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Unit information: States and Markets in 2021/22

Unit name States and Markets
Unit code POLI31559
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Magnus Feldmann
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Are market economies always associated with high levels of inequality? Are free markets the only engine of growth? Do markets promote the most efficient investments? Are unions bad for economic performance? Does globalisation undermine the welfare state? Is Britain becoming more like Europe, or is Europe as a whole becoming more like America in terms of economic policy? This unit examines these topical questions by studying the linkages between politics and economics in comparative perspective. It introduces some of the most influential theoretical perspectives on political economy. It examines the political forces (e.g. the state, democracy, class politics and interest groups) shaping differences across countries in welfare states, labour relations, financial systems, inequality and growth. The unit examines whether there are distinct varieties of capitalism and whether globalisation undermines differences between countries. The main empirical focus of the unit is on OECD countries (EU, North America and Japan), but the unit also highlights the implications of these debates for other parts of the world.


  • To understand the linkages between politics and economics in OECD countries
  • To assess different theoretical perspectives on the political economy
  • To understand different national models of political economies and their consequences for economic welfare and political representation
  • To understand different ways of organising financial, welfare and industrial relations systems and their political underpinnings
  • To understand the effects of institutions on economic performance
  • To understand change in political economic institutions
  • To understand the effect of globalisation on political economic institutions.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this unit students will:

  • Be familiar with different theoretical perspectives on the linkages between politics and economics
  • Be familiar with current debates about different varieties of capitalism and national models of the political economy
  • Be familiar with the diversity of modern capitalist institutions in the OECD
  • Be able to assess debates about institutions and economic performance
  • Be able to assess current challenges to European political economies

Teaching details

1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar

Assessment Details

Essay 1: 1500 words (25%)

Essay 2: 3000 words (75%)


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