Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Capitalist and liberal democratic systems, while being at their global climax in both the developed and developing worlds, are facing serious challenges: from the rising socio-economic inequalities, to the disturbing uncertainties in food, fuel and finance, to the looming threats of nuclear conflicts, trade wars/rivalries, political extremism, terrorism, global pandemics, and above all, climate change. Will global capitalism and Euro-centric modernity survive these crises? Will we be able to transition smoothly into more sustainable and resilient socio-ecological systems? Can new technological advances save civilization? Or do we need far more radical transformations and urgent responses at both the macro and micro levels? Is the end of 'organized life' now more imaginable than the end of capitalism? Is Life beyond Capital, Carbon, Constant growth and Consumerism possible or is this just a utopian dream? What are the plausible post-capitalist futures and how can they be realized?

This course attempts to answer these questions by investigating how the past and present major trends of change influence our future and how grassroots initiatives and movements strive to create future societies beyond dependence on capital, carbon, consumerism, growth and discrimination. More specifically, it provides us with key insights into the nature and future of capitalist globalisation for social justice, sustainability and development.

Availability2021 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2021


  • Semester 1 - 2021

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Evaluate major capitalist processes and transformations

2. Apply analytical frameworks to research major social and ecological problems caused by the expansion of capitalist relations.

3. Identify the effects of capitalist globalisation on economic growth, income distribution, poverty, education, health, social care, and the environment.

4. Critically evaluate neoliberal and post-neoliberal policy reforms and demystify myths about capitalism.

5. Examine post-capitalist alternative practices, systems, models and agendas.


This course will critically review the mainstream theories of capitalist globalisation in terms of their ability to explain social changes and their unprecedented challenges to human development, welfare, and rights. Topics and methods are drawn from the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, economics, political economy, politics, international relations, and geography. The consequences of major capitalist processes (such as commodification, commercialisation, neoliberalism, financialisation) for human development will be analysed. We will explore the root causes of new global risks and crises (such as global inequality, global poverty, global financial crises, conflicts, and the violation of human rights, democratic deficit, and environmental degradations) and examine progressive alternatives to promote social equality, ecological sustainability, and economic democracy.

Case studies from both the global North and global South are used to analyse the socio-ecological consequences of capitalist globalisation for various contexts. Drawing upon critical interpretations of capitalist processes and the situated viewpoints of oppression and resistance among marginalised people, the course presents an alternative understanding of current global changes and the provision of progressive alternatives.

Topics are likely to include:

  1. Contested meanings of capitalist globalisation: Identifying the key issues, historical background and ideological dimensions;
  2. Effects of global change: Is human civilisation in decline?
  3. Theories of capitalist society and ideological discourses of development;
  4. Authoritarian capitalism, neoliberalism, austerity, free trade and economic liberalization;
  5. Welfare states and welfare democracy in the age of global uncertainties;
  6. The rising global divisions and disharmonies;
  7. Global nexus of inequality and poverty;
  8. Global challenges to economic/financial security;
  9. Global challenges to democracy: democratic and civil rights;
  10. Global challenges to health and wellbeing: global health, pandemics, pathologies of globalisation;
  11. Global environmental challenges: climate change, pollution, population movements, resources;
  12. Global challenges to security, peace, and human rights: terrorism, conflicts, cultural/religious clashes, and violence;
  13. The future of capitalism, and post-capitalist alternatives such as Commonism, eco-socialism, eco-feminism, economic democracy, social democracy, de-growth, universal base income cooperativism. 


This course replaces SOCA3420. If you have successfully completed SOCA3420 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

40 units of study at 1000 level

Assessment items

Quiz: 5 small weekly online or in-class quizzes (15%)

Literature Review: Critical Review of Reading Materials (25%)

Annotated Bibliography: Annotated bibliography (20%)

Case Study / Problem Based Learning: Case Study Essay (40%)

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks starting in week 1



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks starting in week 1

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.