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

Undergraduate Course: Food, Drugs, and Precious Metals (PLIT10129)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryCommodities are the "elementary unit" of our political economy. This course takes students through the properties, production and trade of 8 commodities including oil, uranium, marijuana and coffee. Using an inter-disciplinary social science approach, it examines commodity production and trading, as well as the political conflicts and opportunities within these.
Course description The main aim of this course will be to learn about and critically analyse the role of commodities in our contemporary global political economy. The commodity lens allows us to analyse how innovations in industrial and agricultural production, transportation, commerce, and finance, as well as how resource scarcity continue to transform the world economy.

This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of
1. what commodities are; and
2. how they are shaped by and impact on people, power and markets.

The course is intended for students with no formal background in Economics, but previous exposure to International Political Economy, preferably as a result of taking the Honours introductory IPE course. It is an advanced, research-led course. This course will take the form of 2-hour weekly seminars. Students are expected to attend each class having completed the weekly assigned materials and tasks in advance.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: International Political Economy (PLIT10018)
Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying Politics and Economics or Politics and Economic and Social History do not need to have completed International Political Economy.

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 also 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 balanced and comprehensive understanding of commodities in the global political economy, including commodities¿ properties and production, as well as key concepts, actors and dynamics related to their production and trade.
  2. locate material online and offline, using library resources, blogs, LEARN and other online resources and analyse evidence and use this to develop and support a line of argument in the seminar discussions.
  3. compare, contrast and evaluate different arguments in the work of other authors encountered in the course of this seminar.
  4. work independently and as part of groups, prioritising objectives, and working to deadlines (both weekly for the seminar preparation and regarding the deadlines for the written assessments).
  5. develop an awareness of what commodities are, how they are shaped by and in turn impact on the global political economy, including security, inequality, and the environment.
Reading List
Marx, K. (1867, 1991). Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy. Penguin. Chapter 1 (The Commodity) and Chapter 2 (Exchange) in Part One, Commodities and Money.

Bain, C. (2013). Guide to Commodities: Producers, players and prices, markets, consumers and trends. John Wiley & Sons.

Radetzki, M., & Wårell, L. (2016). A handbook of primary commodities in the global economy. Cambridge University Press.

El-Gamal, M. A., & Jaffe, A. M. (2009). Oil, dollars, debt, and crises: The global curse of black gold. Cambridge University Press.

Clements, K. W., & Zhao, X. (2009). Economics and Marijuana: Consumption, Pricing and Legalisation. Cambridge University Press.

Kiggins, R. D. (2015). The political economy of rare earth elements: rising powers and technological change. Springer.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In-depth knowledge of commodities in the global political economy.
Critical thinking and analytical skills.
Advanced research skills.
Effective written and oral communication skills.
Global citizenship.
Course organiserMs Charlotte Rommerskirchen
Course secretary
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