The Politics of Economic Policy

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Mark Thatcher CON 4.17


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


Students will normally be expected to have taken GV101 Introduction to Political Science or equivalent, in a previous year. An introductory knowledge of economics would be useful.

Course content

The aim of this course is to look at political science explanations of changes in public policy, and to apply that literature to major cases of economic policy (both contemporary and historical). In particular, it aims to examine the extent to which economic policy change is affected by ideas, interests and institutions, and the interaction between international and national factors. The material for the course is drawn mainly from the comparative literature on the politics of markets in industrialised countries.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 6 hours of lectures, 10 hours of classes and 4 hours of workshops in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Classes will run from Weeks 2-5 and 7-11 in MT and Weeks 1-5 and 7-11 in LT. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of both terms.

Formative coursework

Two formative essays of 1,500 words each. One presentation to be given in class.

Indicative reading

W. Streeck and K Thelen eds, Beyond continuity: institutional change in advanced political economies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), V Schmidt and M Thatcher (eds), Resilient Liberalism in Europe's Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2013); C Hood, Explaining Economic Policy Reversals (Buckingham: Open University Press,1994), Blyth, M (2002) Great Transformations. Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (CUP), V S. Schmidt, The Futures of European Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), PA Hall and D Soskice (eds),. Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage.(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%).



The Class Summary Grade for General Course students will be calculated as follows: 10% attendance, 10% participation and project presentation, 80% formative coursework.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 12.7
2:1 72.7
2:2 9.1
Third 0.9
Fail 4.5

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 55

Average class size 2016/17: 14

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 63%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)