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Global Perspectives on Neoliberalism


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


Neoliberalism counts among the political phenomena that have elicited much public conflict in recent decades. While some have praised neoliberalism for advancing efficient, market-oriented solutions not just to economic but to political and social problems, others have condemned it for stoking inequality and promoting a general economization of everyday life. Although neoliberalism has come under renewed attack since the financial crisis of 2008, it retains a powerful presence in contemporary affairs.
This seminar examines neoliberalism from its programmatic beginnings in the interwar years to its subsequent proliferation across the globe. We will read neoliberal classics (Hayek, Freedman, James Buchanan) before examing key explanations for the worldwide spread and adaptations of neoliberalism in manifold political and social contexts since the 1970s. The course comprises an interdisciplinary dimension and draws on work by historians, sociologists, political scietists and economists.

There will be no test at the beginning of the course but students are firmly expected to be familiar with the short book listed below.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
  2. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
  3. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  4. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  5. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
  6. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
  7. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
  8. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
  9. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
  10. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;
    -in the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the Present: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;
  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the Present: international comparison and transfer; the analysis of the specific perspectives of secondary studies; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  1. is familiar with the central tenets of key neoliberal thinkers.
  2. is able to approach the history of neoliberalism from interdisciplinary perspectives.
  3. has gained knowledge why neoliberalism has proliferated in various regions of the globe.
  4. (ResMA only) – The paper for ResMA students is based on a larger number of primary sources as well as wider reading of secondary literature than for students on the regular MA. Details will be provided at the beginning of the course.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, the student is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (6.500-7.500 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-9, 11-15 (ResMA also: 16)

  • Oral presentation
    measured learning objectives: 3-7 (ResMA also: 10)

  • Active participation in class
    measured learning objectives: 3-7, 9


  • Written paper: 70%

  • Oral presentation: 10%

  • Participation: 20%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list

Manfred Steger and Ravi K. Roy, Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.