EU455      Half Unit
Concepts in Political Economy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Waltraud Schelkle CBG 6.01


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MPhil/PhD in European Studies, MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Europe and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The aim of the course is to engage students with relevant concepts in political economy and their main applications in European studies. The course will anchor the degree in historical and current debates about the nature of political economy, the role of institutions and the pros and cons of different methodological approaches taken by political economists. The aim of the lectures is to outline key political economy concepts and their theoretical background while the seminars explore the uses and limits of the respective concepts through the systematic analysis of relevant research papers.


This course is particularly recommended for students who wish to pursue a research path in political economy, but also for those who have no background in political science and therefore not familiar with conceptual debate.


Among the topics covered are: concepts and theories in political economy; the role of ideas, interests and institutions; the tension between democracy and capitalism; rational choice versus behavioural political economy; two-level games; delegation to independent agents; accountability and legitimacy in policy-making; veto players and joint-decision traps; representation and partisanship.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One presentation per student. One formative essay in week 4 of 1,000 words on any seminar question (typically on the one that will be presented and can be rewritten after the presentation). Another essay of 1,500 words will consist of the analysis of a research paper.

Indicative reading

Caporaso, J and  Levine, D (1992) Theories of Political Economy, Cambridge; Weingast, B.R. and Wittman, D.A (eds) (2006) The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy, Oxford University Press; Olson, M (2000) The Rise and Decline of Nations, London: Yale University Press. 


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

The online assessment for this course will be administered via Moodle.  Questions will be made available at a set date/time and students will be given a set period in the ST to complete the answers to questions and upload their responses back into Moodle.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2018/19: 19

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication