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Unit information: States and Markets in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

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
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

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.

Your learning on this unit

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

How you will learn

1hr lecture and 2 hour seminar

How you will be assessed

Essay 1: 1500 words (25%)

Essay 2: 3000 words (75%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLI31559).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.