Review of GL2102 – Global Political Economy

For other reviewed modules, check here.

(Alternate Title: GL2102 – Pretty similar but not quite the same as IPE)

Introduction

One of the core mods I needed for a GL minor, I had to appeal to take this module in the same semester as GL1101E as it required completion of GL1101E as a prereq. My desire for taking this module in the same semester was to maximize my module Content Synergy – aka taking modules with similar content so that I could study for one module and do two papers based on it. That was precisely the reason which given in my appeal and it succeeded, making me pretty happy and curious as to how this module would differ from its IPE counterpart.

What I expected

Well, something similar to political economy but more towards global issues? I wasn’t very clear what this module offered since the whole realm of political economy was new to me so I went in not expecting much.

What I got

70% similarities to PS3238, 30% difference. In terms of course content, the course starts out on similar ground with its IPE counterpart by going through the three PE paradigms before tackling issues of trade, finance and production for the rest of the course. The themes covered are largely the same, yet there is more than sufficient course material that distinguishes this course from PS3272.

For example, the historical differences between what Adam Smith had originally envisioned and how he was later inaccurately represented as an ardent supporter of increasing the market’s role at the State’s expense in every realm of life was most interesting, as was List’s original circumstances which later led to some appropriations forming the basis of Statism or mercantilism. While some would dismiss this as an intellectual curiousity, I found that covering it helped me to appreciate the nuanced differences between each paradigm through understanding its origins.

Notable distinctives of this module included an in-depth discussion of the Great Recession from a different angle than that which was adopted by IPE (which studied the Great Recession among other crises under the theme of international crisis cooperation), as well as introducing new concepts such as the Varieties of Capitalism approach. Both modules are sufficiently different that one can use something new they’ve learnt in one for the other, and they are similar such that if one doesn’t understand a core concept very well, they can count on getting a different explanation of that same concept in the other module.

Taking this module under Dr. Mennillo was interesting as her style flows in a manner somewhat similar to having a stage presence. Watching her lecture almost feels like one is attending a play or a performance art exhibition – it is a really different feel from the ‘sage on a stage’ that one usually gets in lectures. Perhaps it’s due to her undulating manner of speech and the general way she vocalizes thoughts – it is most welcome at a 10am lecture slot when most are still rather sleepy, and I don’t recall anyone falling asleep in her lectures (which is a good thing). She’s also pretty open to visiting for consultations (although I did not consult her during the semester, which was my bad ><) and suggestions (had suggested a certain Econs rap battle and was pleasantly surprised when she showed it for educational purposes towards the last lecture), so overall I found her a certainly competent instructor for the module.

[Webcasted?] Partially, if a lecture has to be made up and it clashes with timetables later on. Otherwise nope.

[Course Materials?] Global Political Economy – 4th Edition by John Ravenhill along with some PDF readings.

Assessment & Workload

One is assessed as follows:

  1. Tutorial Participation (15%) – Nothing too difficult, the usual ‘read, show up and discuss.’
  2. Term Paper (35%) – Quite similar to a mid-term exam (questions given in Week 6, due in Week 7) but requires proper citations – a few questions are offered and one picks from them to write their paper on. 2-2.2k words so it has some scope for elaboration and examples but not that much.
  3. Semester Finals (50%) – Forming the bulk of one’s grade for this module, it’s a mixture of MCQs and medium length essays (if I remember it was four choose two). Due to its heavy weightage, one should definitely do their best for the earlier two components to minimize any damage caused by a poor performance at finals (though the paper’s difficulty felt average).

The workload for this module is relatively light to moderate – some weeks have only two light readings while other weeks are a bit heavier in terms of reading difficulty and length (particularly when it comes to concepts being introduced). One should be fine spending an hour to an hour and a half every week for this course’s readings, but if they lack any prior knowledge of Political Economy then factor in a little extra time for consultation to clear up any doubts.

Expected Grade

No idea what my tutorial participation was and I wasn’t given a letter grade but a numerical score for my analytical essay: 29/35. That seems to be about a B+ to A- range, so that’s what I thought I’d get at worst.

Actual Grade

Most surprisingly (again), I was blessed with an A. Perhaps the final paper’s weight helped since I could use knowledge from other modules to substantiate my answers or improve my understanding. TGBTG 😀

Conclusion & Tips

Those doing anything related to GL will obviously need to do this module, but I can recommend it for those who wish to take a broader perspective of political economy as opposed to the more state-centric approach which I feel PS3238 adopted. At some points PS3238 provided a better knowledge of some theoretical basics, but at other times it felt like PS3238 focused a lot more on international interactions rather than looking at the whole as being more than the sum of its parts. Granted, both modules probably had different aims despite their largely similar course content, so if you can do both in the same semester as I did that would probably be for the best 🙂

  1. A pretty good grasp of the content is necessary to even begin writing the Analytical Paper. Don’t skip your readings and consult if you’ve got any problems. Also, independent research will go a long way towards substantiating your points because the textbook doesn’t offer very much.
  2. As mentioned above, if you can do both this and PS3238 in the same semester, you might have an easier time both in terms of workload and understanding the course materials. Module Content Synergy really helps at the end of the semester since one will approach their revision with familiar eyes, saving one time that can then be channeled towards other purposes.

Click here for a preview of material I went through!

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4 thoughts on “Review of GL2102 – Global Political Economy

  1. Pingback: The Grace of 5% | Ramblings of Roe

  2. Hello! I am interested to know how taking GL2102 and PS3238 was like for you? (If it is possible may you reply to me through my email? Thank you! (and thanks for the module review!)

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  3. hi sorry for the previous question, to clarify I am interested to know how its like to take it in the same semester? Was originally planning to take them in different academic years but timetabling schedules might force me to have to take them together in the same semester. Would like to know how your experience was like! Thanks!

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    • Hi Brian,

      What is it like to take both in the same semester…well, I’d actually recommend it. Not just because of the grades I ended up receiving for both modules, but because of module synergy. I felt like PS3238 gave one the skeleton of the subject while GL2102 helped to flesh out other aspects which PS3238 might not have covered; for example, GL2102 looks at things from a more global perspective as opposed to individual economic relations between different states/economies. There’s a more macro feel which is reflective of the slight distinction between Global Studies and Political Science (and also is reflected in the different modules names, ‘Global’ vs ‘International’ political economy). One will certainly get two rounds of explanations from slightly different angles about the key Bretton Woods institutions and other stuff, which might seem boring if you’ve already heard it before but I beg to differ; it helps one understand a bit more fully these things. And the same goes for taking both these modules in the same semester as well: You’ll get 70% similar content but 30% different, which makes module assignments a lot easier (since you can use readings from, say, GL2102 if they’re relevant to write a PS3238 paper or the other way around) to tackle.

      In fact, doing it across two semesters might be boring. In the same semester you can directly compare what you’re learning within lectures held over a few days; across two semesters some of these details are forgotten and it might end up feeling like ‘I’ve learnt most of this before last semester, why do I need to pay attention for this again?’ That said, if you hate political economy then you might not enjoy reading so much about a hated sub-field in the same semester. If you approach it with an open mind, though, you might actually enjoy both modules and appreciate the synergy between their content.

      Workload’s quite managable; neither are infamous modules and PS3238 has the sweet bit of MCQ finals (which should also still be on the menu for next semester). So…being able to use what one’s learnt in one module to reinforce their understanding of the same topic in another module will help one considerably in studying both modules within the same sub-field, and from there it’s a lot easier to complete assignments when they come.

      Hope it helps!

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