Political Economy for Research Students

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Torsten Persson, Prof Gilat Levy 32L.4.31 and Prof Valentino Larcinese CON.5.02


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Economics, MRes/PhD in Management (Organisational Behaviour) and MRes/PhD in Political Science. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


MRes Economics first year core courses for Economics students, EC400 and adviser’s approval for Government students. EC400, EC411 (or equivalent) and course convener’s approval for all other students.

Course content

The course will provide students with the economic methodology and tools for the analysis of political decision making and its effect on public policy. We will consider how political institutions shape economic policy, e.g., how do institutions such as election, legislative bargaining, political parties or non-democratic regimes shape redistributive policies, fiscal policies, and the size of government. We will also consider how in the absence of institutions, political attitudes, beliefs and norms shape policies. The course will focus on analytical models and their testable implications.


30 hours of lectures in the MT. 30 hours of lectures in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will discuss papers in lectures.

Indicative reading

Political Economics by T. Persson and G. Tabellini (MIT Press 2000); Special Interest Politics by G. Grossman and E. Helpman (MIT Press 2001); Whither Political Economy? Theories, Facts and Issues, by A. Merlo, in Blundell, Richard, Newey, Whitney and Torsten Persson (eds.), Advances in Economics and Econometrics, Vol.1, Cambridge University Press, 2005; Tim Besley and Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters, Princeton University Press Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005; "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press; Positive Political Theory 1, Collective Preference, D. Austen-Smith and J. Banks , Michigan, 2000; Positive Political Theory 2, Strategy and Structure , D. Austen-Smith and J. Banks , Michigan, 2005.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2018/19: 5

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information