Political Economy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Ronny Razin 32L.4.01 and Dr Michael Callen 32L.3.18


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; Political Agency Models; Citizen-Candidate Models; and Empirical Studies of: Political Selection, Representation and Policy Outcomes, Bureaucracy, Gender and Politics, and Conflict. Empirical studies will be mostly focused on developing countries.


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

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 50 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes, live streamed (recorded) lectures, and some flipped content delivered as short online videos.

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. 

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2019/20: 49

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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