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Unit information: Global transformations: Issues and Trajectories in 2015/16

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Unit name Global transformations: Issues and Trajectories
Unit code SPAIM0015
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Henderson
Open unit status Not open




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


The unit seeks to convey an overview of the problems associated with contemporary transformations of the global political economy and the policy issues and debates they engender. In so doing, it will attend to the different theoretical traditions (partly disciplinary specific) that seek to comprehend the dynamics and consequences of global change. The first three sessions and the final one will offer an integrated ‘totalisation’ of the subject matter, while the intervening sessions will (a) provide introductions to some of the key problem areas and (b) provide an opportunity for colleagues to ‘showcase’ some of the content of the optional units that will be available to participants in TB2. The intention is the offer sessions associated with all of the problem areas that options deal with, while requiring participants to choose six of them as components of this unit. The unit will be team taught by colleagues from: SPAIS, Education, EFM, Law, Geography (Bristol); and Economics, Education and Social and Policy Sciences (Bath). Sessions 1-3 These sessions will provide an overview of the key processes that have forged the contemporary global condition. Inter alia it will flag-up matters of capital accumulation and cyclical crises, disparities of wealth and life chances, environmental problems, the shifting balance of global power etc. As far as possible it will be comparative across world-regions, show how an analytic focus on ‘the global’ tends to problematize the state-centric assumptions and discourses on which much social science is predicated and raise some of the related policy questions. In so doing these first sessions will provide a broad context for the substantive issues raised in the subsequent sessions. In addition, these initial sessions will emphasize that the substantive issues will be approached from a variety of theoretical (and possibly methodological) perspectives. Sessions 4-9 These sessions will deal with some of the vectors and problem areas (or ‘hot topics’) associated with global transformation and will ‘showcase’ the options that participants could take in TB2. Examples for the foci of these sessions include: Trade; Global Finance; Global and Regional Governance; Production Networks and Industrialisation; Environmental Crises and food security Education and skills; Migration; Human Rights; Changing Contours of Global Power; The Rising Powers and Their Consequences; Global Poverty and well-being. Session 10 This final session will offer a conclusion to the unit by identifying some of the trajectories for change evident in vectors and problem areas discussed in the body of the unit.

Aims To compare explore how global transformations are critically analysed from different social science perspectives with reference to specific policy areas

Intended learning outcomes

Deepened interdisciplinary understanding of social science discourses and methods for analysing global processes of change both generally and in specified policy areas, including the role of different forms of data and analysis in globalised policy development. Deeper understanding of how global and national policy processes interact.

Teaching details

2 hour sessions from S1 weeks 2-9

Assessment Details

One course work essay of 4,000 words, on a topic agreed with unit director

Reading and References

  • David Held et al, Global Transformations (Polity Press, 1999)
  • David Hulme, Global Poverty (Routledge 2010)
  • Manuel Castells, The Information Age, Vols I, II, II (Blackwell, 2000-03)
  • Andrew Glyn, Capitalism Unleashed (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Nicola Phillips and Catherine Weaver, editors: International Political Economy: debating the past, present and future (Routledge, 2010)