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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Politics of Oil (PLIT10123)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the history of the international oil industry from its early roots in the United States to the era of concessions, OPEC, and the contemporary period. It offers an overview of questions that are debated in connection with the international political economy of oil with a special focus on the Rentier State and its critics.
Course description Oil plays a significant part in our modern life: providing energy to power production and facilitate transport of people and goods. Its control has been argued to influence international and national power dynamics and arrangements. This course starts with an examination of the history of the international oil industry from its roots in the United States to the era of concessions, OPEC, and the contemporary period. We will survey the literature on the Resource Curse- specifically the Rentier State strand. The Rentier State approach took many forms since the 1970s. In more recent years, it has been focused on finding a causal relationship between a state's dependence on oil income, and its ability to suppress democratic politics and impose an authoritarian political system. This course will examine the debates on the impact of oil on democracy and the (de-)formation of state institutions. After examining these debates, we will visit the various critiques that question the nature of the causality between acquisition of oil wealth and lack of democratic politics, and/ or weakened state institutional structure. The last two weeks of the course will be dedicated to studying one oil-rich country that has been the object of debate in the scholarship on the oil resource curse.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

As numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course.

High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to the international political economy of oil
  2. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues regarding the connection between oil on the one hand and politics on the other
  3. Ability to verbally articulate and engage with competing analytical arguments.
Reading List
Daniel Yergin. The Prize: The epic quest for oil, money and power. Free Press, 2008.
Timothy Mitchell. Carbon Democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso, 2011.
Adam Hanieh Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. Palgrage: 2011
Kiren Aziz Chaudhry. The Price of Wealth: Economies and Institutions in the Middle East. Cornell University Press, 1997.
Terry L. Karl. ┬┐Understanding the Resource Curse,┬┐ in Svetlana Tsalik and Anya Schiffrin [eds.], Covering Oil: A Guide to Energy and Development. Open Institute, 2005.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:
Critical analysis and evaluation of evidence.
Ability to effectively formulate and articulate a line of argument.
Ability to identify and critically engage with arguments in scholarship and public discourse.
Effective written communication skills.
Keywordsoil,energy,politics,middle east
Course organiserDr Nida Alahmad
Tel: (0131 6)51 1368
Course secretaryMr Daniel Jackson
Tel: (0131 6)50 2309
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