Postgraduate Modules: POL6800 - Theories and Issues in International Political Economy

Module Code

POL 6800

Module Title

Theories and Issues in International Political Economy


Level 4




30 credits

Taught by:

Professor John Hobson and Dr. Liam Stanley

Module Description:

This module seeks to introduce students to some of the most important theoretical and practical debates within the field of international political economy (IPE), and to then push on to a more advanced level of theoretical sophistication. The module begins with an examination of the key theoretical perspectives in IPE, which comprise the orthodox/mainstream theories before considering some of the established and rising heterodox/critical theories. The module is grounded within key debates in the discipline. These include the question as to when IPE as a discipline emerged, whether it be in the 1770s or the 1970s, and what were the normative reasons for its emergence. This takes the student into the deep issue of disciplinary identity and historiography and the issue of the ‘moral purpose’ of the discipline. The module also considers some of the key intellectual-organising frameworks that underpin the theoretical study of the world economy and asks the student to reflect critically about them. The second part of the module applies these various theoretical perspectives to a series of issue-specific case studies, including hegemony and empire, great power political economy, the origins of the 2008 Western financial crisis, the return of China, and globalisation – past and present.

Module Aims:

This module aims to provide an advanced level of understanding of orthodox and heterodox
theoretical approaches and intellectual frameworks in IPE, which can then be applied to key issues and events in the world economy, past and present. By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical, normative and identity-based contexts within which the discipline of IPE emerged;
  • Be able to see the connections and disconnections between the different theories and to be able to ‘zoom out’ in order to see the bigger picture as well as ‘zoom in’ to spot subtle differences and similarities;
  • Apply these different theories to past and contemporary issues and events within the world economy and to be able to utilise these frameworks within related modules; and,
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including the ability to evaluate advanced concepts and theories, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, and above all to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement of all things politico-economic, both theoretical and empirical.

This module also equips students with a range of important transferrable skills, which are vital
in terms of employability, including working independently as well as part of a team; managing a varied workload; assimilating and synthesising multiple theoretical ideas; constructing coherent, independent and critical arguments.

Module Schedule:

1 Module Introduction
2 What is IPE?
3 Neorealist hegemonic stability theory
4 Liberalism
5 Gramscian Marxism
6 Statism/neo-statism
7 Postcolonial IPE
8 Hegemony or Empire (1): Britain in the 19th Century
9 Hegemony or Empire (2): USA in the 20th Century
10 The origins of the 2008 Western financial crisis
11 China in the global economy
12 Globalisation, Eurocentrism and global history

Teaching Methods:

  • 12 * 2 hour lectures


  • Essay 1 (2,500 words) - 40% of mark
  • Essay 2 (3,500 words) - 60% of mark

Resources Available:

  • Individual feedback and guidance sessions with module tutors.
  • Detailed 25-page module handbook.
  • Dedicated module site on MOLE2.
  • Extensive library materials, including a wide variety of electronic and digitised resources.

Indicative Reading:

Blyth, Mark (2009) The Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy. New York:Routledge.

Cohen, Benjamin J. (2007) ‘The Transatlantic Divide: Why are American and British IPE so Different?’ Review of International Political Economy, 14(2): 197–219.

Cox, Robert W. (1981) ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory’. Millennium, 10(2): 126–55.

Gilpin, Robert (2001) Global Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hobson, John M. (2000) The State and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hobson, John M. (2013) ‘Part 1. Revealing the Eurocentric Foundations of IPE: A critical historiography of the discipline from the classical to the modern era’. Review of International Political Economy, 20(?): forthcoming.

Hobson, John M. (2013) ‘Part 2. Reconstructing the non-Eurocentric Foundations of IPE: From Eurocentric “Open Economy Politics” to Inter-Civilizational Political Economy’. Review of International Political Economy, 20(?): forthcoming.

Murphy, C.N. and R. Tooze (eds.) (1991) The New International Political Economy. Boulder, CO.:Lynne Rienner.

Phillips, Nicola (ed.) (2005) Globalizing International Political Economy. Houndmills: Palgrave.

Watson, Matthew (2005) Foundations of International Political Economy. Houndmills: Palgrave.

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