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Critical Challenges in Political Economy - PPE00001H

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  • Department: Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. John Evemy
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module introduces students to the study of political economy by drawing on insights from across the disciplines of economics and politics to interrogate critical challenges in contemporary society. Students on this course will draw on critical traditions in politics, economics, and political economy to analyze the dynamics of core issues such as growth, inequality and crisis in order to both better understand their causes and develop potential solutions.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

This module aims to overcome the disciplinary separation of economics and politics by embedding questions of power into our study of the economy and situating politics within its economic context. By drawing on and critically assessing approaches that seek to situate politics and economics and a single field of study - political economy - students will enhance their understanding of economic and political processes and the central challenges we face today.

Students on this module will:

  1. be introduced to the core approaches in political economy through the study of contemporary challenges in political economy such as growth, inflation, and economic crises.

  2. develop their understanding and analysis of economic and political processes by drawing on critical approaches from across the fields of politics, economics, and political economy. Highlighting points of synthesis, disagreement and contradiction.

  3. develop their ability to reason critically by grounding their analysis in concrete challenges faced by contemporary political economy and combining theory with empirical data to advance analysis.

  4. develop their problem solving abilities by discussing and evaluating potential solutions to these problems, their strengths and limitations.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify issues and situations in society where concepts and principles from Economics and Politics can provide insight, and confidently apply those concepts and principles as appropriate. (PLO1)

  • Engage with, and draw on, academic and professional research in Politics and Economics, with an ability to distinguish different themes within it, and to synthesise ideas across disciplinary boundaries (PLO5)

  • Use interdisciplinary thinking to reflect upon and engage with complex contemporary socio-economic issues, including the critical evaluation of the economic and financial policies of governments and other institutions (PLO6)

  • Improve academic and personal performance by developing initiative, self-organisation and time management skills, as well as the ability to assimilate advice and feedback in individual or collaborative work (PLO7)

  • Clearly present, explain and communicate complex ideas in a variety of modes including verbal, written and technical (PLO8)

Module content

Summative assessment: 3500 word essay where students are encouraged to both advance an analysis of a challenge in political economy and advance a solution to it. Questions would be framed along the lines of “what should be done about X?”

Formative assessment: 500 word summary of a challenge covered by the module.

An indicative list of the contemporary challenges covered by this course would be: growth models; productivity; inflation; financialisation; immigration; crime; economic, ecological and democratic crisis but would ideally vary from year to year to reflect the changing priorities and relevance of different challenges.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their assessment in no later than 25 working days. They will have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Some indicative texts would be:

Bhattacharya, T (2017) Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression, London: Pluto

Harvey, D (2018) The Limits to Capital, London: Verso

Shields,S, Bruff, I & Macartney, H (2011) Critical International Political Economy : Dialogue, Debate and Dissensus, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Watson, M (2007) Foundations of International political Economy, Basingstoke: Palgrave

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.