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Emerging Powers in World Politics


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Tutor: Ali Burak Güven
  • Assessment: a 1500-word essay (25%) and take-home test (75%)

Module description

The accelerated rise of a select group of large developing nations, collectively known as the 'emerging powers', represents a fundamental shift in the make-up of contemporary world politics. Countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and several others in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are augmenting their weight in the global economy in leaps and bounds. Many also pursue more assertive foreign policies than before and seek a stronger voice in global governance. In the process they inevitably encounter novel domestic problems and produce unique challenges for global policy coordination.

This module provides a detailed account of this phenomenon from an interdisciplinary perspective. It tries to capture the diversity of emerging country experiences while also highlighting instances of common trajectory and collective systemic impact. Following a brief overview of current approaches to late development, the discussion quickly engages the most pressing issues that crop up in the fields of comparative politics, international political economy, and international relations with regard to emerging countries.

One major theme of the module is therefore the question of political continuity and change, with particular emphasis on issues such as authoritarianism and elite politics, populism and clientelism, and processes of democratisation. Equally important are the enduring problems of economic development and integration in these countries. Among the main topics analysed in relation to this second theme are questions of market governance and institution-building, the evolving role of international organisations, problems of income distribution and inequality, and strategies of regional and global economic integration. Finally, the module examines the 'rise of (some of) the rest' from the standpoint of international politics, focusing on enhanced emerging country involvement in platforms of global governance but also on examples of coordinative failure in various domains ranging from international security to global trade.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the evolution of the major approaches to economic and political development
  • demonstrate understanding of distinct historical problems and patterns that have characterised the emerging regions of the world (emerging Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the European periphery)
  • apply insights from various theories to comparatively assess the political and economic circumstances as well as developmental prospects of several major emerging countries
  • demonstrate understanding of the workings and problems of international cooperation in the context of large middle-income economies
  • combine the learning outcomes above to critically evaluate the implications of the rise of new powers for global politics, the global economy and global governance.