IR470      Half Unit
International Political Economy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr James Morrison CBG.8.06


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

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Students who have this course as a compulsory course are guaranteed a place

Course content

This is the core course for the International Political Economy MSc degrees. It principally aims to introduce students to the wide array of approaches taken to the study of international political economy (IPE), broadly construed. This is undertaken so as to: (1) acquaint students with the diversity of approaches in the field; (2) help students identify the strengths and weaknesses of each set of approaches; and (3) enable students to employ--and, as necessary, advance--these approaches in the context of their own academic pursuits. Put more prosaically, the course aims to help students: (1) build a robust "tool kit" for understanding IPE; (2) deepen their understanding of where, when, and how to employ these "tools"; and (3) set students to task utilising these "tools" on their own projects. This should prove particularly helpful in the context of students' dissertation research; but the "core" learned here should complement students' study in all of their other IPE courses as well.

Substantively, the course will grapple with the contending theoretical, analytical, and methodological challenges and opportunities in the field of IPE. The course will also use empirical material from the past and present to both illustrate and probe these approaches. Thus, the course does speak to timeless and contemporary issues in international economic relations; although it is expected that students will develop proper specialist knowledge in their optional courses.

The first part of the course introduces students to the traditional, "mainstream" approaches to IPE. The course then considers the more "modern," "non-mainstream" approaches. The course, however, goes beyond a mere "survey" of the field or a simple "tour" of the "menu" of approaches on offer. Instead, it emphasises the connections--often, the interactions--between the various approaches. For instance, it considers how domestic-level approaches evolved as a response to the perceived failings of system-level approaches (such as Hegemonic Stability Theory). Similarly, it explores the development of feminist approaches from--but also against--other "critical" perspectives.

Yet, the course is also neither a history of the global political economy nor an intellectual history of the field of IPE. Such history will indeed be considered throughout the course; but that will be done toward the end of helping students understand the approaches themselves. Instead, students will be encouraged--and challenged--to discover the insights that each approach can offer, particularly by applying each approach to their own substantive concerns.

This course design ensures that it will be accessible to students who have limited (or no) prior study in the field of International Political Economy. Those who do have such training will have the opportunity to broaden and advance their skills. Thus, previous training in International Political Economy is helpful, but it is not required. The same is true with the cognate fields of international relations (more generally), international economics, comparative politics, sociology, and history. Background in these fields is helpful, but it is not a requirement. The same is true of practical, working experience. It is quite valuable but not required.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online.

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

Formative coursework

Students will submit regular reaction and application papers throughout the term.

Students will also deliver an in-class presentation.

Indicative reading

It is advisable to begin reading before the lectures start, particularly for students with no prior training in International Political Economy. The following texts are a good starting point. A more complete source list is provided in the course outline.

Oatley, 'International Political Economy' (2017)

Ravenhill, 'Global Political Economy' (2020)

Walter and Sen, 'Analyzing the Global Political Economy' (2009)

J Frieden, D Lake and JL Broz (eds), 'International Political Economy' (2017)


Essay (100%, 2500 words) in the LT.

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.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.1
Merit 70.7
Pass 11.2
Fail 0

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: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: 93

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information