GV4C8      Half Unit
Game Theory for Political Science

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Rafael Hortala-Vallve


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available on the MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University) and MSc in Public Policy and Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

MSc Political Science and Political Economy students will be granted priority access as this is a compulsory course on this programme. Other postgraduates wanting to take the course (space permitting) require the permission of the teachers responsible.

The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 1 October 2019. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

Course content

Introduction to game theory for graduate students of political science

1. The ingredients of games. Static games of complete information. Normal form and extensive form representation. Dominant strategies. Iterated deletion of strictly dominated strategies. Nash equilibrium.Mixed strategies.

2. Dynamic games of complete information. Backward induction and subgame perfection. Sequential bargaining. Finitely and infinitely repeated games. The Folk theorem.

3. Bayes rule and rationality. Bayesian Nash equilibrium. Perfect Bayesian equilibrium.

4. Applications to Political Science.


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of seminars in the ST.

In addition students will sit a two hour mock exam in week 11 of MT.

Formative coursework

Weekly problem sets to be completed and discussed in class.

Indicative reading

The core text for the course is M J Osborne, An Introduction to Game Theory, Oxford University Press 2004


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 34
Merit 27
Pass 25
Fail 14

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 37

Average class size 2018/19: 12

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication