Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3206: The Political Economy of the State

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Module Aims

The first aim of the module is to allow you to analyse the development and operation of the modern state. You will do this by first analysing some key historical turning points and processes, such as ‘the Glorious Revolution’, the extension of the franchises in democracies, the development and reform of civil services. How did these come about, what have been their consequences? Our approach will be to apply simplified models that can help you to isolate and analyse the relationships between powerful groups in each context. Application of such models will help you to sharpen your analytical skills and to think counterfactually about complicated situations. Comparing models to the historical and empirical record will help you to develop critical skills for assessing and revising arguments.

A second aim is to understand the contemporary dilemmas facing the state by drawing on insights from history and analytical models. For instance: How should sovereign debt be managed? How should macro-economic policy be made? How should public infrastructure be provided? How far can states reduce their expenditure whilst continuing to function?

Throughout the module you will draw on literature from political economy, economic, political and administrative history.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of key historical turning points in the development of the modern state.
2. Apply political economy models to the analysis of developments of the modern state.
3. Produce in-depth analysis of the dilemmas that currently face states using political economy models and in light of the historical record.
Discipline-Specific Skills4. Critically assess the limitations of political economy models.
5. Effectively and critically use a range of sources and materials commonly employed in political economy research, including historical studies and quantitative data.
Personal and Key Skills6. Develop structured, coherent and theoretically informed arguments about key dilemmas facing the state
7. Write clearly about abstract models and empirical data.