BSc Global Development with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Political Economy of Globalisation

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI20072
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit surveys major political-economic forces of change which have shaped the contemporary world. The unit traces globalisation and socio-economic change in terms of (i) temporality (beginning in the 12th century and ending in the 2020s); (ii) geography (with examples drawn from across world regions); and (iii) key dynamics (including trade, production, finance, governance and ideas). Lectures alternate between historical sessions (which begin with long run trends such as rise and fall of colonialism and the formation of the world economy and increasingly then zoom in to the global political-economic history of the late 20th and early 20th centuries) and thematic sessions (for instance exploring free and unfree labour, the economic geography of trade and production, monetary regimes and the interplay between globalising and mercantilist forces). Each week a one hour tutorial looks at the week’s lecture topic in the context of a particular time and place- from energy in the context of 1973 Arab-Israeli War and oil crisis to the high globalisation of the 1990s seen through the experiences of the former Soviet Union.


  • Provide students with a broad grounding in the political-economic processes and dynamics which have shaped today’s world
  • Introduce a variety of perspectives on the connections between processes of change and development at global and national level
  • Foster students’ understanding of the ways in which globalisation has variously constrained and facilitated development possibilities at different times and places
  • Develop transferable skills, including developing an argument, participating in group discussion, preparing and delivering verbal presentations and expressing ideas in writing


Indicative weekly lecture and tutorial schedule

  1. Globalisations past, present, future
  2. The great divergence
  3. Free and unfree labour
  4. Empire to decolonisation
  5. Extraction, centres and peripheries
  6. The Cold War and the development project
  7. Governing the globe
  8. The end of history
  9. World money
  10. The South-East turn
  11. Deglobalisation?

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will be based on lectures (1x2hr week) and tutorials (1x1hr per week). An additional workshop on preparing for assessments will also take place. Lectures will provide a presentation of the week’s topic in overview, including key concepts, combined with some interactive discussion. Tutorials examine the week’s topic in relation to a particular case study, with sessions based around critical discussion of learning material and small group work. Students will be kept regularly informed on upcoming classes and how to prepare for them via Blackboard. The course unit handbook, reading list, lecture slides and tutorial worksheets will also be posted to Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify the main debates and intellectual currents around globalisation past, present and future
  • Explain how social, economic and political change occurs via the interaction of global and local dynamics, across a range of historical and contemporary contexts
  • Contextualise the political-economic features of today’s world by tracing the key global forces which have produced them

Intellectual skills

  • Interpret and synthesise theoretical and empirical material on contested political-economic questions relating to globalisation
  • Compare and evaluate competing perspectives on global political and economic change

Practical skills

  • Appropriately select and weight material for inclusion in written work and verbal presentation
  • Build a consistent and critical line of argument and effectively integrate it within a piece of writing

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Articulate complex ideas and arguments with clarify and concision, in written form and in a short verbal presentation
  • Plan and organise effectively to meet deadlines and keep current on reading each week
  • Cooperate with group members in a variety of small group exercises and discussions

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Oral assessment/presentation 30%

Feedback methods

Verbal feedback on contributions to tutorial activities will act as formative assessment to prepare students for this summative assessment.

Written comments with summative assessment on Blackboard. The content and timing of feedback will be consistent with University policy.

Recommended reading

Abu-Lughod, J. L. (1991). Before European hegemony: the world system AD 1250-1350. New York: Oxford University Press

Scholte, J. A. (2008). Defining globalisation. World Economy, 31(11), 1471-1502.

Patel, R., & Moore, J. W. (2017). A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A guide to capitalism, nature, and the future of the planet. Berkely: University of California Press.

Pomeranz, K. (2000). The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the making of the modern world economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Anievas, A., & Nişancioğlu, K. (2017). How Did the West Usurp the Rest? Origins of the great divergence over the longue durée. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59(1), 34-67.

Parthasarathi, P. (2011). Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia did not: Global economic divergence, 1600-1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beckert, S. (2015). Empire of Cotton: A global history. New York: Vintage.

Silver, B. (2003).  Forces of Labor: Workers’ Movements and Globalization Since 1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

LeBaron, G., Pliley, J. R., & Blight, D. W. (Eds.). (2021). Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: History and contemporary policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Wolf, E. R., & Eriksen, T. H. (2010). Europe and the People without History. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Zarakol, A. (2010). After Defeat: How the East learned to live with the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Getachew, A. (2019). Worldmaking after Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Nelson, S. R. (2022). Oceans of Grain: How American wheat remade the world. New York: Basic Books.

Scheduled activity hours Lectures 22 Tutorials 11

Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicholas Jepson Unit coordinator

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