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Unit information: Political Corruption in 2020/21

Unit name Political Corruption
Unit code POLI30022
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Mircea Popa
Open unit status Not open




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


Corruption, money in politics, and political scandals are central to understanding political life in countries across the world. This unit aims to expose students to recent and highly influential literature on these topics from Politics and related disciplines. Some of the main questions being asked include: Why are some countries more corrupt than others? What role does money play in politics? How does the quality of governance affect economic development? How can we clean up political life? In tackling these questions we will use a range of sources including recent academic papers, classic books in the field, and reliable journalistic accounts.

The unit aims are:

  • To familiarise students with the ongoing academic debates and findings on corruption, money in politics, and governance.
  • To develop students’ ability to critically analyse empirical developments through the theoretical lenses discussed in this unit, in the context of two essay assignments.
  • To prepare students for policy making or policy analysis in the area of corruption and governance.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the main theoretical puzzles regarding corruption and its effects on politics and economics.
  • Critically engage with the literature on corruption and governance.
  • Demonstrate ability to connect empirical evidence with arguments from the academic literature.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

25% essay (1000 words, assesses all ILOs)

75% essay (3000 words, assesses all ILOs)

Reading and References

Rose-Ackerman, S. and Palifka, B.J., 2016. Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform. Cambridge University Press.

Hoffman, D., 2011. The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia. PublicAffairs.

Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J., 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Crown Business.

Treisman, D., 2000. The Causes of Corruption: A Cross-national Study. Journal of Public Economics, 76(3), pp.399-457.

Eggers, A.C. and Hainmueller, J., 2009. MPs For Sale? Returns to Office in Postwar British Politics. American Political Science Review, 103(04), pp.513-533.

Svensson, J., 2005. Eight Questions About Corruption. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(3), pp.19-42.