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Global Perspectives on Neoliberalism


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


Neoliberlism 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 pr)blem;

  • 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

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;

  • in the specialisation Political Culture and National Identities: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:

  • in the specialisation Political Culture and National Identities: 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:

  • 13) is familiar with the central tenets of key neoliberal thinkers.

  • 14) is able to approach the history of neoliberalism from interdisciplinary perspectives.

  • 15) has gained knowledge why neoliberalism has proliferated in various regions of the globe.

  • 16) 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 timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he 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, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Seminars: 13x2=26

  • Presentation: 20

  • Study of compulsory literature: 65

  • Written paper: 169

Assessment method

  • Written Paper

  • Presentation

  • Class Participation


  • Written paper (6500-7500 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 9, 11-16

  • Oral presentation
    measured learning objectives: 4, 7-9

  • Class Participation
    measured learning objectives: 4, 7-9


  • Written paper: 70%

  • Oral presentation: 10%

  • Class 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 sufficent.

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


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

Exam review



Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

  • key readings will be posted on the course website on blackboard

Reading list

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


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Prof. dr. Bernhard Rieger