ASTK15402U COURSE: Theories and Issues in International Political Economy

Volume 2015/2016

Bachelorlevel: 20 ECTS

Masterlevel: 15 ECTS


Core Course in the Specalization "International political economy"


This course offers an advanced introduction to the field of International Political Economy (IPE). The course divides into three inter-related parts. The first considers the history of the international economy and the various ways in which it has been ordered politically. The part of the course supplies a vital historical backdrop to contemporary debates, but it also allows for an early discussion of competing accounts of world order and the necessary and sufficient conditions for the construction and maintenance of a liberal economic order. The second part of the course examines these theoretical positions in more detail. The following are covered: liberalism (in its economic and IR variants), economic nationalism, realism and neo-realism, Marxism and varieties of critical IPE (including feminism). These first two parts of the course are taught intensively through two 3-hour sessions per week for the first seven weeks. Students will then take a pass/fail exam. The third part of the course takes a thematic approach to the study of contemporary IPE. Topics covered include finance, production, trade, consumption, the environment, gender and development. Several recurrent themes will be woven into these discussions, which will each be covered in one 2-hour class across the second part of the course. These themes include debates about the locus and operation of power, the significance of institutions, the prospects for ‘global governance’, the role of the state under conditions of ‘globalisation’ and the importance of ideas (such as neoliberalism).


The course is structured as follows:


1(a) Introduction

1(b) What is IPE?

2(a) The world economy in the nineteenth century

2(b) Inter-war crisis of the world economy

3(a) The rise and fall of the Bretton Woods system

3(b) Globalisation and beyond

4(a) Major debates in IPE

4(b) IPE: the anatomy of a field

5(a) Economic nationalism

5(b) Realist IPE

6(a) Economic liberalism

6(b) Liberal institutionalist IPE

7(a) Marxism and IPE

7(b) Critical theory and feminist IPE

8. Trade in the global economy

9. The political economy of production, foreign direct investment and corporate governance

10. Global finance and the world economy

11. The political economy of consumption

12. The IPE of the environment

13. IPE, Gender and development

14. Conclusions and examination preparation


Competency description

This is the core compulsory course for students taking the master specialization in International Political Economy. The course provides a comprehensive overview of the field of IPE and can be used as a stepping-stone to further study in the form of more specialized courses or master dissertations. The substantive content of the course will be of interest to students wishing to pursue careers in national and international public administration, think tanks, NGOs and the media. 

Learning Outcome

On completion of the course, students should (a) be able to demonstrate familiarity with the main theoretical traditions in IPE; (b) be able to analyse one or more of these traditions in relation to specific cases; (c) be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of both different approaches to the study of IPE and their principal critics (d) be able to discuss key contemporary topics in IPE in the light of historical and theoretical consideration.   


  • Grade 12 is given for excellent performance, and full or almost full mastery of the content of the course materials and the literature and an excellent ability to discuss, analytically and with critical insight, theories and issues in IPE
  • Grade 7 is given for good performance, and good understanding of the content of the course materials and literature and a good ability to discuss, with a solid degree of analysis and critique, theories and issues in IPE.
  • Grade 02 is given for sufficient performance, and understanding of the content of the course material and literature and some ability to discuss theories and issues in IPE.

The following is an indicative list of core readings. A detailed list of core and required readings will be provided before the start of the course.


Abdelal, Rawi, Blyth, Mark and Parsons, Craig Constructing the International Economy, Cornell University Press, 2010.


Blyth, Mark Handbook of International Political Economy, Routledge, 2009.


Chorev, N.  ‘The Institutional Project of Neo-Liberal Globalism: The Case of the WTO’, Theory and Society, 34(3), 2005, pp. 317-355


Clift, Ben Comparative Political Economy: States, Markets and Global Capitalism, London Palgrave, 2014.


Cox, R. ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies vol, 10, no. 2, 1981, pp. 126-55.


Crane, George T. and Amawi, Abla (eds) (1997) The Theoretical Evolution of International Political Economy, second edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Crouch, Colin The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism, Polity Press, 2011.


Hall, P. and Soskice, D. (eds) Varieties of Capitalism, Oxford University Press, 2001.


Helleiner, E.  ‘Economic Nationalism as a Challenge to Neoliberalism? Lessons from the Nineteenth Century’, International Studies Quarterly 46 (3), 2002, pp. 307-329.


James, H. ‘The multiple contexts of Bretton Woods’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy 28(3), 2012, pp. 411-430.


Kindleberger, C The World in Depression 1929-39, University of California Press, 1973, chapter 14, pp. 288-305.


Krippner, G.R. ‘The Financialization of the American Economy’, Socio-Economic Review 3, 2005.


O’Brien, Robert and Williams, Marc Global Political Economy, 4th  edition, Palgrave Macmillan 2014


Polanyi, Karl The Great Transformation, Beacon Press 2002 (Originally published 1944)


Prügl , E. ‘“If Lehman Brothers Had Been Lehman Sisters...”: Gender and Myth in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis’, International Political Sociology  6(1), 2012, pp. 21-35.


Ravenhill, John (ed.) Global Political Economy, 4th  edition, Oxford University Press, 2014,


John Gerard Ruggie, J.G. ‘International Regimes, Transactions and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order,’ International Organization, vol. 36, no. 2 (1982), pp. 379-416.


Veblen, T The Theory of the Leisure Class, Unwin 1970 [1899]


Watson, Matthew Foundations of International Political Economy, Palgrave, 2005.


Core readings will draw heavily upon the following journals: Global Governance, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, New Political Economy, Review of International Political Economy, Review of International Studies, Socio-Economic Review.

A good knowledge of key literatures in international relations, comparative politics and political theory. An interest in economics is advantage, but formal training in economics is not essential.
Classes will consist of a mixture of mini-lectures, small group exercises and plenary debates and discussions. The course will be team taught with an emphasis on active learning.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Course Preparation
  • 140
  • Exam Preparation
  • 105
  • Exercises
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 7
  • Total
  • 412
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner