This module is centred primarily around one question: is it a coincidence that states with multiple natural resources appear to have some of the most severe corruption challenges?

Attempts to answer that question inevitably lead to further questions: if we find that this relationship exists, why is that so? Why do certain states fall into the ‘natural resources trap’ whereas others – Norway and to an extent Botswana, for example – manage to avoid it? What types of institutional architecture can protect against falling foul of the natural resources curse?

During the course of this module, you’ll gain a clear theoretical and empirical understanding of the processes at work.

This module evaluates the success and (at times, frequent) failures of solutions to the problems outlined above. These suggested solutions are both national and international in scope.

We evaluate the anti-corruption efforts of states with significant natural resource endowments as well as international efforts in this area.

What future, for example, do initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) have in fighting corruption? Does the UN’s Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) have a role to play here? What can we learn from states that have successfully avoided the corruption-related pitfalls of having large amounts of natural resources?

Module Lead: Francis McGowan

What you’ll learn

  • You’ll understand what the natural resources curse is before analysing why it takes the forms that it does.
  • You’ll learn to critically evaluate domestic initiatives that have been undertaken to try and alleviate the corruption-related impacts caused by having large natural resource endowments.
  • You’ll learn to analyse and interpret drivers of and results that have flowed from the international community’s proposed solutions in this area.

By the end of the module, you’ll be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of why so many states have fallen foul of the natural resources curse
  • explain why attempts to do something about the natural resources curse have proven so difficult to carry through
  • apply this knowledge to a range of real-world country and sector-specific cases around the world.

Types of assessment may include:

  • an essay (70%) – you’ll write on one of five specific issues ranging from why natural resources are so often viewed as a fast track to entrenching corrupt practices, to the role of globalisation on resource governance
  • a written brief (30%) – the briefing document will be pitched at a company, government, NGO or international organisation (depending on your preferences) and will focus on updating that organisation on one of the key issues (the role of resources in fostering conflict, whether to sign up to an international transparency register etc.) covered in the module.