GV313      Half Unit
Politics of Trade in Comparative Perspective

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Stephanie Rickard


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped at two groups.


A background in political economy would be advantageous.

Course content

The course focuses on the role of institutions and interests in the process and formulation of trade policy. We examine the causal influences of institutions and interests in trade, focusing predominantly on developed countries. We draw on theories from economics and political science and analyze these using both historical and contemporary examples, and do so from a comparative perspective, rather than an international relations perspective.

The primary focus of the course is on actual policy outcomes.


This course provides a minimum of 25 hours of lectures and seminars in the Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus sessions. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Weekly writing assignments.

Indicative reading

Frieden, Lake and Schultz (2010) World Politics. 216-233.

Hiscox, Michael. (2002) “Commerce, Coalitions, and Factor Mobility: Evidence from Congressional Votes on Trade Legislation.” American Political Science Review 96(3): 593-608.

Milner, Helen V. and Keiko Kubota. (2005) “Why the Move to Free Trade? Democracy and Trade Policy in the Developing Countries.” International Organization 59 (Winter): 107-144.

Rickard, Stephanie J. (2010) “Democratic Differences: Electoral Institutions and Compliance with GATT/WTO Agreements.” European Journal of International Relations 16(4): 711-729.

Nielson, Daniel L. (2003). Supplying Trade Reform: Political Institutions and Liberalization in Middle-Income Presidential Democracies. American Journal of Political Science 47:3 470-491.

C. Schonhardt-Bailey, From the Corn Laws to Free Trade: Interests, Ideas and Institutions in Historical Perspective (MIT Press, 2006).

Zahrnt, Valentin. (2008). Domestic constituents and the formulation of WTO negotiating positions: what the delegates say. World Trade Review 7 (2): 393-421.

Wei and Zhang (2010) Do external interventions work? The case of trade reform conditions in IMF supported programs Journal of Development Economics Volume 92, Issue 1, May 2010, Pages 71–81.

Frieden, Jeffry, Ronald Rogowski. (1996) “The Impact of the International Economy on National Policies: An Analytical Overview.” In Internationalization and Domestic Politics. Edited by Robert Keohane and Helen Milner, p. 25-47.


Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills