History of Economic Thought and Methods

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Economics

Module overview

Please note that this course is capped at a limit of 25 students

The economic crisis that has affected the world economy since September 2007 has unfolded deep flaws in the content and the teaching methods of economics. Courses such as economic methodology and history of economic thought have slowly been removed from the economics curriculum around the world. This new module provides students the opportunity to participate in the revival of interest in studying history of economic ideas and economic methodology. The study of the evolution of economic ideas and of the economics profession remains relevant to understand how theory and methods have developed historically in economics. The dynamic nature of the economy and of economic phenomena determines a change in the importance attached to various perspectives and schools of thought due to their public policy implications. Thus, in economics, the practical relevance and usefulness of economic ideas and policies is never fully exhausted. The emphasis of such a course is on 'the real world' and the development of economic ideas related to the economic and social conditions of the time. This course will not just explain 'how' and 'why' economic ideas changed in the way they did but it will also identify and explain how economic ideas have interacted with other disciplines. The course will bring the necessary elements of plurality and interdisciplinarity that economics students need in order to understand the 'wealth' of economic ideas and policy stances but also that there is no  'absolute economic truth' and that we need to contest existent and 'accepted' economic wisdom.


153400123 - Macroeconomic Analysis


153400130 - Microeconomic Analysis

(Note: For BSc Economics and BSc Development Economics students both these courses are core courses in year 2 of their degrees, but BA two-subject degree students can only take EITHER of these two courses in their year 2)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • Understand the context of the original formulation of some fundamental analytical methods and theoretical concepts used by modern economists.
  • Interpret and analyse critically classical and historical texts in economics.
  • Think critically about the boundaries of economic analysis in a broader socio-economic context.
  • Understand the applicability of these methods and ideas in relation to the economic world today; and the debates on economic affairs of interest today.
  • Appreciate the uncertainty and limits of economic knowledge and the diversity of ec*onomic ideas that informs the current economic discourse.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 80% / Coursework 20% (1 essay of 2,500 words). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this course.

Suggested reading

Core readings:

  • Sandelin, B., H.- M. Trautwein and R. Wundtrack (2015), A Short History of Economic Thought (3rd ed.), London and New York: Routledge.
  • Kurz, Heinz D. and N. Salvadori (2014), Understanding 'Classical' Economics: Studies in Long Period Theory, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Kates, S. (2013), Defending the History of Economic Thought, Edward Elgar.
  • Medema, S.G. and W.J. Samuels (2013), The History of Economic Thought: A Reader, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Vaggi, G. and Gronewegen, P.D. (2003), A  Concise History of Economic Thought from Mercantilism to Monetarism, Basinstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Medema, S.G. and Samuels, W.J. (2003), The History of Economic Thought, London and New York: Routledge.
  • J.K. Galbraith (1987), A History of Economics: The Past as the Present, London: Hamish Hamilton
    Robert Heilbroner (1999), The Wordly Philosophers (7th ed.), New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Joseph Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis (ed. Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter), New York: Oxford University Press, 1954.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules