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International Trade Policy

Key information

Subject area:

Public Policy, Politics & Security

Course type:

Executive Education

Credit level:


Credit value:



4 weeks

Available course dates:

To be confirmed

Course overview

This module is aimed at the increasing plurality of government officials, private sector managers and civil society campaigners, to whose work, trade policy has growing relevance.

Globalisation, regionalisation and the interconnectedness of global supply chains make trade a criticalengine for modern prosperity. With products being assembled in a dozen different countries and services delivered digitally, remotely or by jet-setting teams, even seemingly minor and technical changes to trade frameworks can have far-reaching consequences.

Trade policy negotiation and formulation is a whole-of-government endeavour, and the impacts of such policies are increasingly understood to reach well beyond their direct impacts on commercial transactions across borders. Understanding the role of governments in shaping international markets is critical to effectively injecting the views of your department, private firm or civil society organisation into policy formulation. The module will use teaching methods including interactive lectures; exerts from negotiated texts, public policy inputs and media coverage.

What does this course cover?

Week 1: Origins, Principles and Politics of the Global Trading System for Goods

International trade is governed by a set of international laws, mutually binding obligations that global governments have taken upon themselves to maintain conditions of international trade that are predictable and conducive to commerce. We will study the the system’s formulation and its evolution from a small group of like-minded countries after World War II to the globally spanning World Trade Organization (WTO) as it exists today. Learners will also cover the basic principles of the World Trade Organization’s goods trade, such as tariffs, the Most Favored Nation principle and the concept of National Treatment.


Week 2: Rules Beyond Goods, and Trade Agreements

Next, learners will explore how the international trading system has gone beyond simply moving physical goods, and the types of trade agreements governments have struck to go beyond their WTO obligations. We will cover trade in services, government procurement, and intellectual property. We will also explore the four broad types of trade agreements (bilateral, plurilateral, preferential and multilateral), as well as the dispute settlement systems used to resolve disagreements about mutual obligations.


Week 3: Trade Negotiations and How to Influence Them

In the final week, learners will go step by step through a trade negotiation to examine what negotiators are seeking to achieve at every stage. Learners will study the process, the inputs required to make it work, and how stakeholders operating within government, the private sector or civil society can most effectively make their viewpoints heard within what can be an opaque process. The goal is to equip learners to put into practice everything they’ve studied in weeks one and two to understand how trade policy can shape outcomes, and how to impact that process.

What will I achieve?

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Critique the political and economic drivers which led to the creation of the contemporary rules-based trading system, its evolution and the challenges it faces.
  • Comprehend the role of trade policy as a toolbox for government. This includes reflection on the policy options available to government in support of various objectives, their potentialities, their limits and the agreed restrictions on them governments have accepted through international trade agreements.
  • Assess how international trade negotiations are prepared for, launched, undertaken, concluded and implemented. This includes an understanding of the full negotiation process from identifying potential partners all the way through to the future work programs and joint bodies modern agreements establish to continue talks into the future.
  • Evaluate constructively and critically in public policy debates about topical trade related issues.

Who will I learn with?

James  Scott

James Scott

Reader in International Politics

Who is this for?

This short course is for mid-career professionals. Standard entry requirements are a 2:1 degree plus 3 years of relevant work experience. Applicants without a 2:1 or higher degree are welcome to apply and typically require 5+ years of relevant work experience.

How will I be assessed?

One written assignment, plus participation in webinars and discussion forums.

Our modules offer high levels of interaction with regular points of assessment and feedback. Each four week module is worth five Master's level academic credits and includes three webinars with a King's lecturer and peer group of global professionals.

What is the teaching schedule?

Format: Fully online, plus 3 x 1-hour weekly webinars

This module has been designed specifically for an online audience. It uses a range of interactive activities to support learning including discussion forums, online readings, interactive lectures videos and online tutorials.

Course status:

Places available

Full fee £950

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