International Political Economy

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stephen Woolcock CLM 6.13


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Political Economy and MSc in International Political Economy (Research). This course is available on the MSc in International Political Economy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

An advanced introduction to concepts and contending approaches in international political economy, and an overview of the evolution of international economic relations since the late nineteenth century.

This course is the core course for MSc International Political Economy. It aims to introduce students to various approaches to the study of international political economy (IPE), and to apply theories to important historical and contemporary empirical issues. The first part of the course introduces students to the main theoretical concepts in and methodological approaches to political economy, emphasising the overlap between international and comparative approaches. After surveying the main schools of thought in the subject, it examines more recent theoretical developments, including the comparative and domestic approaches that have become increasingly prominent in the literature. The second and third parts of the course address the political and economic history of the international political economy. The issues covered in this part include particular events such as the 1930s economic depression, the issue of economic development, the construction and evolution of international economic regimes and institutions, and contemporary issues related to 'globalisation'. Previous background in international relations, international economics, comparative politics and history is helpful but is not a requirement. Students with no previous background in the subject should read Walter and Sen, Analyzing the Global Political Economy (2009), Oatley, International Political Economy and Ravenhill, Global Political Economy by the end of the first term.

Watch a short introductory video on this course:


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

There will be a lecture course (IR450.1) on International Political Economy commencing in week one of the MT, with an examination preparation and expectations lecture in week 2 of ST. Students will be assigned to International Political Economy seminar groups (IR450.1A) which accompany the lecture series; each seminar group will be run by a teacher involved in the MSc IPE programme. A supplementary series of 14 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. This supplementary lecture series is primarily intended for those with little or no background in international economics and is not examinable.


Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.


Formative coursework

Three 2,000-word essays will be set and marked by the seminar teacher.

Indicative reading

It is advisable to begin reading before the lectures start, and the following general texts are recommended. A more complete source-list is provided in the course outline. Oatley, International Political Economy (2012); Ravenhill, Global Political Economy (2011); Walter and Sen, Analyzing the Global Political Economy (2009); J Frieden & D Lake (eds), International Political Economy (2009); J Frieden, Global Capitalism (2006); Robert Gilpin, Global Political Economy (2001); Susan Strange, States and Markets.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Students will be asked to answer three out of 12 questions.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.9
Merit 56
Pass 34.3
Fail 2.8

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2014/15: 94

Average class size 2014/15: 13

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 91.8%



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