MSc Global Development (Politics, Governance and Development Policy) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Global Political Economy

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60072
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The aim of this course is to illuminate and critically evaluate various perspectives on global political economy and the insights these provide into development possibilities, constraints and outcomes. Within a historical context the course reviews the way our global political and economic architecture has been formed, how it operates today, and how it might be influenced. Students will be able to develop an appreciation of several conceptual approaches and be exposed to key debates and significant trends. The course will cover conventional and critical theories of global political economy, globalisation and the state. Specific topics such as the global agricultural and natural resource complexes, global institutions, and the rise of China are examined within the context of changing dynamics of globalisation and the shifting contours of today’s global economy. Where appropriate examples will be drawn from different country contexts and sectors across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Learning outcomes

This module draws on a range of teaching and learning strategies, including lectures, seminar discussions, group presentations and independent learning by students. Most two hour sessions will be predominantly lecture based. Questions and student participation are encouraged and welcomed. Seminars will involve guided discussion around selected questions and texts and group student presentations of different case studies prepared during the course.  Students are expected to have completed the required readings for each session.

Teaching and learning methods

8 x 2-hour lectures

4 x 2-hour tutorials

Knowledge and understanding


  • Understand the role of political economy as a cornerstone discipline of development studies
  • Demonstrate a grounded understanding of conceptual approaches, empirical trends and issues concerning global political economy from a development perspective
  • Understand and be able to compare conceptual and analytical debates over the global economy
  • Be able to critically evaluate empirical data, case studies and official reports on global political economy with reference to specific issues including natural resources, agriculture and finance

Intellectual skills


  • Be informed of different paradigmatic approaches to analysis of the global economy and changing dynamics of mobility and work
  • Critically assess and compare a variety of analytical perspectives that underpin policy debates over global political economy
  • Apply different conceptual perspectives to analysis of the issues across diverse sectors (including extractive industries, agribusiness and manufacture) in different development contexts (including in Asia, Africa and Latin America)

Practical skills


  • Have developed their critical, analytical, writing, communication and presentation skills.
  • Ability to understand and analyse policy debates and interventions

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Improved competence in developing reasoned arguments, gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a variety of sources, undertaking both team-based and independent work to deadlines, and both written and verbal forms of communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 75%
Written assignment (inc essay) 25%

Take home exam

Questions will not be available before the date of the exam. Once students receive the exam paper they will have 72 hours to submit their answers. Students do not have to complete the assessment under exam conditions and may use notes, articles, books, etc. in the same way as an non-timed essay assignment.

Recommended reading

Arrighi, G. (2010 [1994]). The Long Twentieth Century: Money, power, and the origins of our times . 2 nd Edition. Verso

Auty, R. (2002). Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies: the resource curse thesis . Routledge

Brautigam, D. (2009). The Dragon's Gift: The real story of China in Africa . Oxford University Press.

Bunker, S. G., & Ciccantell, P. S. (2005). Globalization and the Race for Resources . JHU Press.

Dicken, P. (2011). Global Shift, Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy, Sage Publications. (Sixth edition).

Kiely R. (2007). The New Political Economy of Development: Globalization, Imperialism, Hegemony, Palgrave Macmillan.

Krippner, G. R. (2011). Capitalizing on Crisis: The political origins of the rise of finance . Harvard University Press.

Lee, C. K. (2018). The specter of global China: Politics, labor, and foreign investment in Africa. University of Chicago Press.

Payne A. (2005). The Global Politics of Unequal Development, Palgrave.

McMichael P. (2012). Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective. Sage Publications: London. (Fifth edition).

Phillips, N. (2005). Globalizing International Political Economy, Palgrave.

Polanyi K. (2002). The Great Transformation ,. reprint. Beacon Press, Boston.

Ravenhill, J. (2011). Global Political Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Saad-Filho, A., & Johnston, D. (2005). Neoliberalism: A critical reader . University of Chicago Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 16
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicholas Jepson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

GDI Programmes on which course unit is offered:


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