BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Politics of the Global Economy

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI10502
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Politics of the Global Economy sets out to provide an introduction to the academic discipline of International Political Economy (IPE). The course will introduce you to the study of the global political economy particularly in the context of globalization, neoliberalism and the recent global financial crisis. It will help you to think about how the main features of the global economy are changing and will familiarise you with the recent history of the global economy. The course is also particularly concerned with how these changes are having an impact on the present.

Unlike many introductory courses that outline a set of particular topics that you need to learn about an academic discipline, this course is built around the research areas of members of the Politics Global Political Economy Research Cluster. All of us are concerned with a set of problems in the global economy and how they influence the lives of ordinary people all around the world. We will introduce you to the problems and issues that we think are crucial to understanding how the world is now, how it could be, and how it should be in the twenty first century - your future.


The unit aims to:


•      introduce students to the study of the global political economy and the phenomenon of globalisation;

•      familiarise students with the recent history of the global economy and its impact on the present;

•      introduce students to the key issues shaping the global political economy.

Learning outcomes

Student should be able to:


  • To understand the political nature and significance of the global economy;
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, evolution and contemporary dynamics of the global political economy and globalization;
  • To reflect on various issues shaping the current phase of economic globalization and relate them to key conceptual issues;
  • To use the library, academic journals and other appropriate learning resources to research and prepare academic essays;
  • To develop critical, evaluative and communicative skills through in-class presentations, participation in class activities and discussions and through the production of an essay.


After an introductory lecture and seminar, the course turns to focus on key forms of inequality in the global economy: gender, race, and class. It then explores important dimensions to the globalisation of the economy, through trade, finance, transnational production, and climate change. It explores the dominant contemporary ideological underpinning of the global economy: neoliberalism. Throughout, we explore three key questions, regarding the nature of power in the global economy, the ways that global economic forces are resisted, and the interactions between political institutions and economic processes in shaping the global economy. In the final lecture, the course team will reflect on contemporary events in the context of the themes of the course.


Indicative week-by-week outline:


Week 1: Introduction to the Global Political Economy

Week 2: Why does poverty exist in a world of Wealth?

Week 3: What role does gender play in the global political economy?

Week 4: How does race and racism structure the global economy?

Week 5: How is the fourth industrial revolution changing the politics of production and labour?

Week 6: The Politics of International Trade

Week 7: How is finance political?

Week 8: How is climate change affecting the global economy?

Week 9: Is neoliberalism really about the free market?

Week 10: Conclusions

Assessment methods

Essay 1,500 words 40%

Exam 60%

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff.

Recommended reading


Preliminary reading:

O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2013), Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics, 4th edn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).


Ravenhill, J. (2011), Global Political Economy, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stuart Shields Unit coordinator

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