Inequalities in the Global Economy ESH5068

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course critically understands inequalities through assessing flows of capital, manufactured goods and natural resources in the global economy. It uses perspectives drawn from heterodox economists, social scientists and historians to assess debates over the drivers of persistent inequality, addressing trade and investment patterns, technology, government policy and path dependencies. The first half of the module is orientated towards theoretical and historical explanations of inequality, poverty, and enrichment, addressing global processes of accumulation and the distribution of economic rewards. In the second half, focus shifts towards case studies and thematic discussions related to inequitable outcomes of contemporary global economic production.


10 x 2 hour classes, once per week. Each class will comprise a lecture and then group-work in a seminar setting. Timetabling challenges may exist and course delivery is context dependent.

Requirements of Entry

Students will required to be enrolled on a postgraduate programme within the College of Social Sciences.

Excluded Courses





Assessment 1 (Portfolio): Act as an advocate for a participant in a global commodity chain and/or national or localised economic development by writing a c.1,000 word blogpost that persuasively argues for their position. Either put forward an explanation for how your party is advancing sustainable development or explain why and how your subject suffers economic injustice and put forward possible remedies. Apply at least one of the approaches outlined in weeks two, three and four to explain these experiences. Your case study can vary from global business strategy to national government policy to a highly localised development, or between these levels. If you wish to present your work in an alternative format such as a short (c.5 minute) podcast this can be arranged in discussion with the course convener. Week 5(1,000 words) (30% of overall mark)


Assessment 2: As part of a group of 4 or 5 students, develop a case study of inequality in the global economy. This could take the form of critiquing local or national economic development experiences- either singular or comparative - or a multinational's investment pattern or a global commodity chain. In this assessment you are tasked with identifying the competing interests involved in the scenario you are critiquing. The case study should consist of three parts. In the first you should outline the problem, in the second section outline the perspective of at least two competing stakeholders, and in the third discuss possible policy remedies. Options for the case study can build on the first assessment or could be taken from the classes contrasting national development models, or case studying mass production and natural resources or discussions on policymaking. Students will be rewarded for outlining how these developments are connected to broader political and economic structures and power relations. Where possible, academic literature should be supplemented by relevant sources related to the case study such as archival sources, business surveys and reports, or material from local, regional and national governments and NGOs.


Week 10 Part I: A 10-minute presentation (20% of overall mark).


Week 14 Part II: A 4,000 word report. (50% of overall mark).

Course Aims

To introduce and develop understanding of theoretical accounts of economic inequalities.


To introduce and develop understanding of case studies of inequality in the global economy.


To critically apply theoretical frameworks to real-world examples of economic development.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:


Understand and critically assess uneven nature of economic development in the global economy.


Evaluate changing relationships between the Global North and Global South.


Analyse the role of particular sectors in shaping regional and national economies.


Integrate race and gender inequalities within their knowledge and understanding of economic inequalities.


Orally discuss relationships between inward investment, government policy and development models in shaping regional and national economies and present written analyses in varied formats.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.