Political Economy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Ronny Razin 32L4.01 and Prof Timothy Besley 32L3.37


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


This course makes use of key concepts in economic theory as well as econometric analysis. We welcome all students with  a strong background and proven record in quantitative courses such as econometrics, statistics, microeconomics, mathematics, other advanced economics courses.

Course content

The course seeks to introduce students to the major theoretical models of Political  Economy and the available empirical evidence. Sample topics to be covered include: Social Choice theory and Preference aggregation; Comparative electoral systems; Political economy of income redistribution; Turnout in elections; Strategic and Sincere voting; Political Parties; Debates and Communication; The political economy of transfers and public good provision; state capacity; the dynamics of political institutions, democracy versus autocracy.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Two hours of revision lectures will be held early in the Summer Term.

Formative coursework

Four pieces of written work (two per term) will be handed in and assessed by class teachers.

Indicative reading

There is no text book covering all the material in the course. The following books are recommended as supplements to what is covered in the lectures:

  • Analyzing Politics, Rationality, Behavior and Institutions, K.A. Shepsle and M.S. Bonchek. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
  • Liberalism Against Populism, W.H. Riker, Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, Illinois.

For additional readings see:


Exam (90%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Group project (10%) in the LT.

In the LT students will be assessed by a group project, consisting of an essay of no more than 3000 words, and a 20-minute presentation on the essay topic - 10 minutes to present the main ideas and 10 minutes of Q&A. All students will be expected to contribute to both the essay and the presentation, including providing responses during the Q&A. Students will work in groups of no more than 5. Groups will be assigned by the class teacher. 

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2018/19: 68

Average class size 2018/19: 18

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills