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Programme & Unit Catalogues

PL30879: Modern silk roads: international trade in a global economy

[Page last updated: 02 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Semester 2
Assessment Summary: CW 30%, EX 70%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework (CW 30%)
  • Open Book Exam (EX 70%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: Students successfully completing the unit will demonstrate:
* a good understanding of the WTO system;
* knowledge of the main theoretical debates surrounding trade, the WTO and non-WTO trade arrangements;
* awareness of the history of trade and globalisation.

Aims: The unit focuses on a key area of International Political Economy theory, namely the global trading system. It offers a theoretical overview of the main aspects of the system, including a brief history of trade policies and trade arrangements; the WTO; regional trade arrangements and current arrangements outside of the WTO. The unit engages the changing nature of the global trade system and analyses current challenges to the established WTO system stemming from emerging and developing states, and also from the financial and economic crisis. The last sessions of the unit concentrate on current controversies surrounding trade policy, which link to other aspects of International Political Economy and International Relations (e.g. trade and the environment, trade and technology, trade and human rights).

Skills: Skills in critical analysis, precision in the use of written and spoken language, exercise of independent judgement, reasoned argument, effective communication, teamwork and the planning/conduct/reporting of non-quantitative research are developed and assessed in this unit.

Content: The unit includes trade theories, the linkages between trade and foreign policy, trade policies of key international actors (US, EU, China), the institutional regime and rules of the WTO, other forms of trade governannce beyond the WTO such as preferential trade agreements. The unit addresses modern shifts in trade negotiations and trade polices beyond traditional trade in goods aspects, such as intellectual property rights, linkages to environmental and social standards, regulatory implications of trade negotiations, to understand how emerging ideas and governance structures interact with state capacity. It also establishes links between these elements and current trade-related developments in the real world.

Programme availability:

PL30879 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Economics
  • UHES-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics (Year 3)
  • UHES-AAB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-AKB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHES-ACB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Combined Placement and Study Abroad (Year 4)
Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AFB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations (Year 3)
  • UHPL-AAB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AKB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics (Year 3)
  • UHPL-AAB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHPL-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 4)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.