Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
International Political Economy, Ideas, Institutions and Capitalism
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 11 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe and critically engage with the key theories, concepts and thinkers of IPE.
2. Be able to demonstrate the distinctiveness of IPE approaches to the international system, power, and key agents.
3. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of globalisation and global governance from an IPE viewpoint.
4. Display a detailed knowledge of the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the key issues which delineate their power in the present global political economy.
5. Demonstrate a concrete understanding of the centrality of global policies for trade and finance in determining the structure of the global political economy.
6. Possess an in-depth knowledge of historical grounded approaches to capitalism, and the major transitions in that system from the end of empire to the present.
7. Discuss and evaluate the relationship between contemporary capitalism, underdevelopment and economic crises.
8. Demonstrate through written work and seminar discussion an ability to evaluate the centrality of IPE to explaining power and outcomes in the international system.


This module is intended to compliment existing departmental modules in the areas of International Relations Theory and Post-Colonial studies. It enhances existing departmental provision by enabling student entry into an important discipline/sub-discipline that covers the relationships between states, markets and institutions; the development of contemporary capitalism and governance of the global political economy; and the theoretical interface between IR and political economy. The course will address the theoretical development of the field, considering the main ideas, concepts and thinkers in the Realist, Liberal and Marxian canons. It will move on through the relationship between states and markets in an era of globalisation. It will cover the main Bretton Woods institutions and issues they generate for governance. Finally, the course discusses the centrality of capitalism as a mode for organising the global political economy and social life, including key issues such as development and power in the international system

Brief description

This module examines some of the key theoretical approaches in IPE and grounds them in the main institutions and social forces that characterise globalisation. It will supply the key concepts and contending perspectives on the key issues and institutions that dominate contemporary thought on global political economy. Capitalism is also central for understanding IR and the distribution of power and life chances in the world today


Part One: Theories
1. Introduction: IPE the Development of the Field
2. Realism and IPE: Gilpin to Strange
3. Liberal and Neoliberal IPE
4. Marxian Approaches

Part Two: Forces, Governance and Institutions
4. Globalisation and the State
5. Governance of the Global Political Economy
6. The World Bank and the IMF
7. The WTO and the World Trade System

Part Three: Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Development
9. Theories and History of Capitalism
10. The Dominance of Neoliberalism?
11. Divisions, Development and Crises

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students¿ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as BIDS and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students¿ verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of two essays will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of two essays will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 7