Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, we will be prioritising face to face teaching as part of a blended learning approach that builds on the lessons learned over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at:

WM9E2-15 Trade Policy

Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Paul Gower
Credit value
Module duration
2 weeks
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module will assess how trade policy is determined and discuss the possible outcomes associated with different approaches to policy. The direction of trade policy across countries and regions has major implications for businesses both in terms of their own overseas expansion plans as well as likely competition from foreign organisations. In addition, it can also have implications for the economy and society, more generally, in terms of technological development, innovation, sustainable growth, inequality, job creation and household wellbeing.

The module will assess the role of trade policy within the broader social, political and economic policy context. It will assess the development of trade policy across different countries and regions and analyse the role of global forums such as the World Trade organisation. It will consider the influence of lobbying groups on trade policy and their role in trade agreement negotiations. The key features of trade agreements will be discussed along with the negotiation process behind them.

Module aims

The module aims to provide students with an overview of the role of trade policy and how it is determined. Differences in trade policies between countries and regions will be analysed and the implications of these will be discussed. Students will acquire a greater understanding of the policy making process and how this relates to the negotiation and development of trade agreements. Along with the International Trade module it will provide a context within which students can analyse strategic and operational decision making by businesses and it will enhance their employability in areas such a policy making, consultancy and business strategy.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The main topics covered in the module are likely to include:
An assessment of current and historic trade policies in selected countries and regions such as the UK, the EU, the USA and emerging markets.
A discussion of current bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as CETA and ASEAN.
A discussion the role of global forums such as the World Bank and the United Nations in determining trade policy.
An evaluation of the process leading to the creation of trade agreements including the role of interest and lobbying groups.
A discussion of the importance of market access measures such as tariffs/customs procedures and regulatory measures such as standards and rules of origin in trade policy.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Evaluate the development and implications of trade policies across different countries and regions
  • Critically assess the nature of existing trade agreements and the process by which new trade agreements are negotiated
  • Critically evaluate the role of global forums, such as the WTO and United Nations, in the formulation of trade policy
  • Assess the role and importance of interest groups and lobbying organisations in the development of trade policy
  • Evaluate the role of trade policy within broader economic, social and political policy perspectives
Indicative reading list

Bagwell, K and Staiger, R.W. (2016) The Handbook of Commercial Policy, Volume 1. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-444-63280-7
Klasen, A. (2020) The Handbook of Global Trade Policy. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell ISBN 978-1-119-16738-9


Trade policy will be considered from a global perspective taking account of intercultural differences and the international diversity of the student body on the degree programme

Subject specific skills

Understanding of the role of trade policy within a broader policy context, development and implications of trade agreements, role of global forums in trade policy, role of interest groups in trade policy, recognising the importance of sustainability in trade policy.

Transferable skills

Teamworking, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, intercultural awareness, professionalism, sustainability.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 5 sessions of 2 hours (7%)
Seminars 5 sessions of 3 hours (10%)
Online learning (scheduled sessions) 5 sessions of 3 hours (10%)
Online learning (independent) 5 sessions of 3 hours (10%)
Private study 35 hours (23%)
Assessment 60 hours (40%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

The breakdown includes 15 hours of scheduled online learning. This will be undertaken in small groups (3-4 students) and will enable the students to plan and prepare for the simulated trade agreement negotiation exercise that is planned for the seminars. This will also include scheduled online Q&A sessions, with a module tutor, during which students can ask for clarification of issues. The preparation will involve developing a negotiating strategy based on the role the group has been given (trade negotiators, policy makers, analysts, lobbying organisations etc.). The online independent learning will enable the students to undertake preparatory background reading for the simulation exercise. This will enable them to engage fully in the seminar sessions. The private study hours are for the students to read the material supporting the lectures and view any additional videos that have been prepared to supplement the lectures.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
A personal reflection on the trade agreement negotiation process and outcomes 100% 80 hours

The assignment will use as its basis a trade negotiation simulation undertaken in the seminars during which students will take on given, country specific roles whilst engaged in preparing for and negotiating a bilateral or multilateral trade agreement which also takes account of the requirements of international trade forums such as the WTO (in relation to tariff setting for instance) or the United Nations (through the Sustainable Development Goals for instance). Students must complete an individual piece of work reflecting on the preparation for the rounds of negotiations, the challenges faced during the negotiation, the outcome in terms of the trade agreement reached and its potential impact compared to the objectives set for each stakeholder at the beginning of the process. At the end of each round of negotiations the students will be asked to write a journal entry which will require them to assess the state of the negotiations, challenges they have faced and their own perceived performance during the process. The students will be given a set of specific questions to provide a framework and a structure for the journal entries. These entries will provide them with the basis for the reflective piece.

Assessment group R
Weighting Study time
Analyse the impact of a recently concluded free trade agreement 100%

The student will be given a choice of recently concluded free trade agreements and they will have to select one in order to undertake an assessment of the impact of the agreement on the countries concerned given the likely objectives of various stakeholders at the beginning of the negotiating process.

Feedback on assessment

Individual written feedback


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of TWMA-H1NB Postgraduate International Trade, Strategy and Operations