A calendar listing topics by week is shown below.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Discussions: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


This course focuses on strategic and political implications of ongoing trends in global energy markets, particularly markets for crude oil and natural gas.


The course will be organized in a lecture format, meeting once a week for a total of 14 class sessions. In addition, there will be a weekly discussion session lead by the teaching assistant.



Students will be expected to digest weekly reading assignments before each class session and to reflect critical engagement with the readings in their participation in each week's discussion sessions. Each student will also be required to complete two "take home" exams. The first of these will be distributed in class during Week #8 and is to be turned in during class on Week #11. The second "take home" exam will be distributed in class during Week #12 and is to be turned in during class on Week #14.


Graduate students are responsible for additional weekly readings. They will submit a term paper with topics and requirements based on three consultations with the instructor. The term paper topic must be determined by Week #7.

Required Texts

Deutch, John M., James R. Schlesinger, and David G. Victor. National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency: Report of an Independent Task Force. New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations, 2006. ISBN: 9780876093658.

Crandall, Maureen. Energy, Economics, and Politics in the Caspian Region: Dreams and Realities. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006. ISBN: 9780275991302.

Marcel, Valerie. Oil Titans: National Oil Companies in the Middle East. Baltimore, MD: Brookings Institution Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780815754732.

Parra, Francisco. Oil Politics: A Modern History of Petroleum. New York, NY: I.B. Tauris, 2004. ISBN: 9781860649776.

Victor, David, Amy Jaffe, and Mark Hayes, eds. Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521865036.

Weintraub, Sidney, Annette Hester, Veronica R Prado, and Luis Alberto Moreno, eds. Energy Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere: Benefits and Impediments. Washington, DC: The CSIS Press, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007. ISBN: 9780892064885.

Additional readings are also assigned during the course of the semester.



Discussion participation 30%
Take home exam 1 35%
Take home exam 2 35%



Term Paper: 100%

Recommended Citation

For any use or distribution of these materials, please cite as follows:

Flynt Leverett and Paul Staniland, course materials for 17.906 Reading Seminar in Social Science: The Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of Global Energy, Spring 2007. MIT OpenCourseWare (, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Downloaded on [DD Month YYYY].


1 Introduction to course  
2 The global energy industry - companies and governments; markets and politics  
3 The global energy balance - present status, future trends, and strategic responses  
4 Markets, cartels, and consumers - resource nationalism and resource mercantilism  
5 Resource nationalism and market power (I) - OPEC and the challenges  
6 Resource nationalism and market power (II) - Iran, Iraq, and the future of hydrocarbon production in the Persian Gulf  
7 Resource nationalism and market power (III) - Russia, the Post-Soviet Space, and Europe  
8 Resource nationalism and market power (IV) - Russia and Asia Take home exam 1 out
9 Resource mercantilism - China, India, and Japan  

Energy battlegrounds (I) - energy and regional security in East Asia

The international energy agency and the future of consumer cooperation

New prospects for producer-consumer cooperation

11 Energy battlegrounds (II) - Central Asia, the Caspian Basin, and Iran Take home exam 1 due
12 Energy battlegrounds (III) - The United States, Canada, and Latin America Take home exam 2 out
13 The geopolitics of energy and U.S. foreign policy - managing energy interdependence Graduate term papers due
14 The geoeconomics of energy and U.S. foreign policy - energy, currency, and the future of America's global leadership Take home exam 2 due