Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Capitalism and International Politics
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3000 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a knowledge of central elements of Marx's theory of capital
2. Evaluate the historical specificity of capitalism as a form of society
3. Evidence an understanding of the distinctiveness of Marx's critical theory in relation to disciplines such as history, economics and politics
4. Engage in critical evaluation of Marx’s theory of capital and its historical legacy
5. Show a knowledge of important applications of the critique of capital in IR
6. Historically contextualise theories of capitalism and international politics
7. Critically reflect on the use made of the theory of capital in IR and evaluate prevalent interpretations
8. Interpret key dynamics of contemporary capitalism through the theory of capital

Brief description

This module is intended to enable students to develop an understanding of the concept of capital and a critical appreciation of the historically distinctive character of capitalist society, its unique dynamics and how it shapes contemporary international politics. To this end, it engages in depth with the thinking of the major theorist of capital as a social and historical phenomenon, Karl Marx, examining a number of the central elements of his thought. Having explored the concept of capital, it goes on to look at some of the many ways in which capitalism profoundly influences international politics, integrating the world through exchange at the same time as it divides it through relations of power and domination. Students will be encouraged both to explore the crucial conceptual aspects of capital and to think critically about how they work in the world.


In the first half of the module we will concentrate on exploring the concept of capitalism in order to try to gain a closer understanding of what it is. This section will accordingly focus on the work of Marx, and will explore important aspects of his thought. These include the idea of historical materialism, the significance of class and the class structure of capitalist society, the concept of 'value' and its centrality to a critical theory of capital, the complexities of exchange, surplus value and accumulation. The intention is to grasp key aspects of Marx’s critical theory of capital, which he understands not merely as 'economics' but rather as a distinctive historical mode of social existence.
The second half of the module will look at how capitalism shapes the dynamics of international politics and also explore some of the ways in which Marx's critical theory of capital has been used to explain international relations, both conflict and co-operation. Among the topics covered are theories of imperialism, understandings of hegemony and transnational class formation and the idea of globalisation and its connection to capitalism as a worldwide process, as well as patterns of power and subordination, inclusion and exclusion in the capitalist world economy and the link between capitalism and environmental crisis.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to form their ideas both verbally in seminar discussion and in writing in the essays, and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will learn how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be 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. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare to meet coursework deadlines will focus students’ attention on the importance of managing their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format and to use online sources appropriately when researching.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two essays will require that students develop 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; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research when working on the essay. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather, organize and analyse appropriate and interesting resources and materials
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: • Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module • Evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 6