The Geopolitical Economy of Energy

School: School of Government
Department of Political Science and International Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
Duration: Spring term

Lecturer: Dr Richard Connolly

This module aims to provide an understanding of the role of energy and energy security in global political economy. It will explore energy and energy security at the international level. The module will be available to postgraduates from the School of Government and Society.

Course content

The module will introduce students to the basic theoretical, historical and geopolitical contours of the geopolitical economy of energy today as an essential dimension of contemporary international political economy. Because energy is critical to economic growth, this module will explore issues related to the supply of energy, energy markets, environmental impacts of energy use, and prospects for energy transitions. Energy security refers to questions of risk and security of supply as well as volatility in energy prices, and to supplies that are dependable and not subject to unexpected disruptions. Global Energy Security is concerned with the interests of both supplier and producer countries, even though the preferences (for example, on the terms of energy trade) of the two groups are often different.

Taking energy security as the starting point, this module explores not only how countries shape their strategies to meet their energy needs, but also how such actions have implications for other countries and the international system. It looks at new technologies and innovations – such as those making the extraction of shale gas economical – and how they are changing patterns of trade and could shape new alliances. Finally, while acknowledging that oil and gas will be dominant for the next 20-40 years, the course considers the consequences of a successful shift away from petroleum based economies to anticipate how a new energy order might fundamentally alter the nature of global politics.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the key features of the role of energy within the broader context of international political economy and different analytical/theoretical frameworks used to understand it.
  • Critically assess debates about the role of energy in the global economy and synthesise academic materials from different sources.
  • Utilise key conceptual frameworks relevant to the study of energy security issues
  • Demonstrate familiarity with primary data sources on global energy supply and demand, and learn how to use data for research.
  • Understand most important themes surrounding energy supply and demand in global political economy. 


  • 1 x 4000 word essay 80%
  • 1 x presentation 20%

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.