EC302GC      Half Unit
Political Economy (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Callen 32L.3.18


This course is available to General Course ‘Spring Semester’ 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. The ability to interpret basic econometric estimates is essential.

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: Political agency models; bureaucracy; the political economy of transfers, public good provision, and reform; state capacity; the dynamics of political institutions, democracy versus autocracy.


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 25 hours across the 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

Two pieces of written work 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 book is recommended as a supplement to what is covered in the lectures:

• Besley, Tim. 2006. Principled Agents? The Political Economy of Good Government. Oxford University Press.

For additional readings see:


Exam (80%, duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Group project (20%) 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: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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