IR368      Half Unit
The Political Economy of Trade

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Marta Soprana CBG.8.10


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped).


Some background knowledge of international political economy, such as that provided in IR206 International Political Economy, will be useful to students taking this course.

Course content

This course provides the basis for understanding the current trends in international trade, including the growth of unilateralism and protectionist pressures and the crisis of the world trading system. This understanding will be base on:

• the intellectual history of free trade and how this has shaped and continues to shape policy;

• an understanding of trade theory;

• background on changes in the nature of trade and investment in the 21st century;

• an analyses the structural tensions in the trading system as well as the domestic economic and political factors shaping policy;

• knowledge of the underlying trends towards the use of preferential and plurilateral rather than multilateral cooperation in trade and investment

• the core issues in current trade negotiations;

• and thus an understanding of the current fundamental challenges facing the international trading system.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term.

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

Formative coursework

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

The formative essay is 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Heydon. K and Woolcock. S (eds) (2012) The Ashgate Research Companion to International Trade Policy, HF 1379 A 82: e-book and hard copies available.

Hoekman. B and Kosteki. (2009) The Political Economy of the World Trading System HF 1359 H69 e-book available but reasonably price in paperback so something to purchase.

Martin. L (ed) (2014) Oxford Handbook of The Political Economy of International Trade, available as an e-book.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 23.2
2:1 48.2
2:2 21.4
Third 5.4
Fail 1.8

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: 23

Average class size 2021/22: 8

Capped 2021/22: Yes (36)

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills