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POL1131 : Studying Political Economy: Ideas, Theories and Skills

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Judy Murray
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of the module are twofold:

1. To introduce students to the study of Political Economy
2. To highlight and develop the skills that students require for effective study and learning

Related to these aims, the module seeks to:

1. Examine and discuss key thinkers, theories and ideas in political economy
2. Develop students' knowledge and understanding of fundamental questions and arguments in political economy
3. Make students aware of the skills that are required for effective study and provide opportunities for further skills development
4. Provide students with a foundation in knowledge and skills from which they can go on to take further modules in Politics, Economics and Political Economy

Outline Of Syllabus

Module outline:

The module introduces students to the study of political economy as it examines the life, ideas and legacy of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. The module also discusses more contemporary views on neoliberalism, globalization and the on-going global economic crisis. In addition, the module is focused on developing key study skills, including effective note taking and essay writing.

Outline of syllabus:

1. What is political economy? An introduction to POL1131
2. What is Capitalism?
3. Models of Capitalism
4. Mercantilism
5. Adam Smith and the ‘invisible hand’
6. Karl Marx and the crisis of capitalism
7. John Maynard Keynes and the Great Depression
8. The neoliberal critique: Hayek and Friedman
9. Economic globalization: the case ‘for’ and ‘against’
10. Political economic crisis: 2008 and beyond

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery91:009:00Provide students with the opportunity to discuss essay and exam requirements and to provide revision
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1159:00159:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

POL1131 is composed of 22 lectures and 10 seminars.

Lectures – The lectures will provide students with an introduction to the subject and an overview of the key thinkers, issues and debates in Political Economy. This will provide the basis for self-directed study and seminar discussion.

Seminars - The seminars will provide an environment in which students can explore and deepen their understanding of the issues raised in lectures and readings through discussion in a small group context with their peers. The seminars will also provide the context in which students will develop many of the skills outcomes associated with the module. They will be central to the development of critical thinking and data synthesis skills. The seminars, with their requirement for advance preparation, will promote self-management skills while the in-seminar discussions will provide opportunities to develop and enhance interaction skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A501.5 hour exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay (50%) - the 2000 word essay will be used to assess students individual knowledge of the subject. In addition, the essay will assess their ability to gather and synthesize information from a wide range of sources, think critically and present their ideas clearly in a written format.

Exam (50%) - The unseen examination will assess students understanding across the broader curriculum. Students will be required to answer examination questions on different topics to those addressed by their 2000 word essays.

Reading Lists