The Political Economy of International Trade

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leonardo Baccini LCH 2.08


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Political Economy, MSc in International Political Economy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the Student Statement box on the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

Course content

The study of the choice of trade policy and the institutional context in which it takes place. This course investigates how theories of emphasising distributional interests and institutions can explain trade policy choices. Particular emphasis is placed on giving students an understanding of the fundamental models of political economy. The course then applies these various issue-areas of trade policy, among them the role of the GATT and the WTO, regional trade agreements, trade in services, and the relationship between trade and foreign direct investment. While there is no formal pre-requisite for the course, it would be preferable for students to have already completed an introductory course in microecnomics and basic knowledge of quantitative analysis. Students without a previous background in quantitative methods can attend lectures from M1451 and M1452

Watch a short introductory video on this course:


10 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

A series of 20 lectures (IR457) and 18 seminars (IR457) based on student presentations. Lectures begin in week one of the MT and seminars begin in the third week of the MT. Fourteen lectures on Introduction to Some Concepts in Economics will also be given as part of IR450.1, explaining the law of comparative costs, purchasing power parity, the quantity theory of money, the balance of payments and other concepts currently used in the literature. These lectures, starting in week one of the MT, are highly recommended for MSc IPE students without any background in economics. 

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading

The bulk of this course will be taught using journal articles. In addition, students will find it useful to consult several overview texts on the political economy of trade and the workings of the global trading system, among them Paul R. Krugman, Maurice Obstfeld, and Marc Melitz (2011), International Economics, 9th ed. Prentice Hall; Bernard M. Hoekman and Michel M. Kostecki (2010), The Political Economy of the World Trading System, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press; Douglas A. Irwin (2009), Free Trade Under Fire, 3rd edition, Princeton University Press; and Robert Feenstra (2004), Advanced International Trade: Theory and Evidence, Princeton University Press. A detailed reading list will be made available on Moodle.


Exam (60%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (40%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 8.6
Merit 56.8
Pass 33.8
Fail 0.7

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2012/13: 45

Average class size 2012/13: 11

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information