Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Capitalism and International Politics
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1  2000 Words  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2  2000 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the historical distinctiveness of capitalist society.

Evidence an appreciation of the importance of a theory of capitalism.

Outline and analyse the main elements of Marx’s theorization of capitalism.

Demonstrate an understanding of the interdisciplinary dimensions of studying capitalism.

Analyse and evaluate important attempts to conceptualise the international politics of capitalism.

Apply ideas from the theorization of capitalism to important contemporary issues in world politics.

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 its importance in shaping contemporary international politics. To this end, it follows two paths. First, it investigates the concept of capital, critically engaging with the most important theorist of capitalism as social and historical phenomenon, Karl Marx. Secondly, it explores some of the many ways in which capitalism profoundly influences international politics, looking at both theories of the international politics of capitalism and thinking about how capitalism drives major issues in international politics. Students will be encouraged both to explore the crucial conceptual aspects of capital and to think critically about how they work in the world.


The module is taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Key thematic issues for analysis through the lectures and seminars include:
- Capitalism as a historical form of society
- The theory of capitalism as economic system
- The existence of capitalism on a world scale
- Theories of the international politics of capitalism, such as imperialism and hegemony
- Capital and contemporary international political issues, such as climate change and global finance

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas verbally and in writing, and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will develop skills in using the many sources of information available 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 written assessments 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 the module convenor and other students. 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 how to answer assessed essay questions.
Information Technology Students will enhance their proficiency using Blackboard, where materials to support learning will be made available. Students will also develop skills in searching for, and assessing the validity of, online information sources as part of preparation for lectures, seminars and assessed tasks. Assessed work will be presented in electronic format, according to standard expectations.
Personal Development and Career planning The 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 requires students to write 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 a goal of the module; the submission of written assignments 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; 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 in order to complete the assessed work. This will involve utilizing a range of information sources, including core academic texts, journal articles, electronic publications, and online news sources.
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 • Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary social and political problems.
Team work For many of the topics of this module, seminars will involve 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 5