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Module Code - Title:


Year Last Offered:


Hours Per Week:













Grading Type:


Prerequisite Modules:

Rationale and Purpose of the Module:

This module looks at the domestic and international politics of oil production and consumption. The module introduces students to the role that oil has played in the development of the international system, how it has shaped political institutions and conflicts in contemporary states, and what policy issues will emerge over the next few decades if predictions about peak oil prove to be true. In doing so it introduces students to key debates and concepts in contemporary comparative and international politics such as the resource curse, rentierism, and new wars.


1. The hydrocarbon age - the emergence of oil as a driver of modern political and economic growth and the development of oil as a strategic resource; 2. petroleum and the organization of capitalism; 3. the international organization of the petroleum economy: OPEC; 4. oil wealth and regime survival: the monarchical rentier state and the issue of whether oil help autocracies to endure; 5. theoretical perspectives on the resource curse: does oil hinder democracy and growth?; 6. case study of the resource curse: Venezuela; 7. case study of the resource curse: Nigeria; 8. case study of the resource curse: Russia; 9. oil wars: resource rents and conflicts; 10 case studies of oil wars as forms of new wars; 11. the contemporary geo-politics of oil; 12. peak oil and beyond - the policy problems of the transition to the post-oil age.

Learning Outcomes:

Cognitive (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis)

Describe the main roles that oil as a resource plays in modern politics at both domestic and international levels. Determine whether oil producing states are rentier states or not and what effect rentierism might have. Explain the effect that oil has on the political economy of developing nations and contrast the reasons behind policy proposals that have been put forward to ameliorate any negative effects that oil might have. Explain the relationships between oil production and regime type and survival. Distinguish between resource wars as forms of new war in oil producing states.

Affective (Attitudes and Values)

Demonstrate an appreciation of the problems faced in contemporary politics by the prospects of oil depletion and oil's environmental impact.

Psychomotor (Physical Skills)

Develop presentation and group work skills.

How the Module will be Taught and what will be the Learning Experiences of the Students:

The module will be taught through lecture and tutorial with strong emphasis in the latter in students working in small research teams to develop case study research and compare it against aggregate theories from international and comparative political economy that will be introduced through direted reading and lectures.

Research Findings Incorporated in to the Syllabus (If Relevant):

Prime Texts:

Heinberg, R. (2007) The partyÆs over. Oil, war and the fate of industrial societies , Clareview
Kaldor, M., Karl, T.L. and Said, Y. (eds) (2007) Oil wars , Pluto
Karl, T. L. (1997) The paradox of plenty. Oil booms and petro-states , University of California Press
Yergin, D. (1993) The Prize. The epic quest for oil, money and power , Simon and Schuster

Other Relevant Texts:

Gause, F. Gregory (1994) Oil monarchies , Council for Foreign Relations
Kalicki, J. and Goldwyn, D. (2005) Energy and security. Toward a new foreign policy strategy , Johns Hopkins University Press
Lovins, A. (2005) Winning the oil endgame , Earthscan
Tsalik, S. and Schiffrin, A. (eds) (2005) Covering oil. A reporterÆs guide to energy and development , Open Society Institute
Patterson, M. (2007) Automobile Politics. Ecology and cultural political economy , Cambridge University Press
Humphreys, M., Sachs, J..D. and Stiglitz, J.E. (eds) (2007) Escaping the Resource Curse , Columbia University Press

Programme(s) in which this Module is Offered:

Semester - Year to be First Offered:


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