History of Economics: How Theories Change

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

To Be Announced


This course is available on the BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History, BSc in Economics with Economic History, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Social Policy and Economics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the ways in which economics has developed from the Mercantilists of the 17th century to the Neoclassical thinking of the later 20th century.

The course will explore how the theories, concepts and methods of economics have changed over the lasts 250 years, focusing on Europe and North America.'. We will use the original texts in order to understand how economists of the past approached perennial questions (about for example, the sources of growth or the role of money) and resolved them in the context of the economic conditions of their own time and place; and use theories about scientific change to understand the longer history of economics.


10 hours of lectures and 8 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to discuss assigned texts and produce several pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

A reading list of original texts and secondary literature will be given at the beginning of the course. For an introduction, students may read R L Heilbroner's, The Worldly Philosophers; for general background, consult Roger E Backhouse's, The Penguin History of Economics or David Colander & Harry Landreth's, History of Economic Thought.

Reading will be made available in a course reading pack.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2015/16: 52

Average class size 2015/16: 13

Capped 2015/16: Yes (60)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills