GV4C8      Half Unit
Game Theory for Political Science

This information is for the 2021/22 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 the programme. Other postgraduates wanting to take the course (space permitting) require the permission of the teachers responsible.

Course content

Game theory provides a scientific approach to the study of social interactions which focusses on the strategic aspects of decision-making between two or more individuals or groups. This course will cover the basic elements of game theory and how they have been applied in the area of political science and political economy. The aim of the course is to provide a deeper understanding of game theoretic tools and to help you understand how these ideas have been developed and applied in the political science literature. The course will be divided into looking at static games where all players move simultaneously and the dynamic games where players move in sequence. In each of these parts we will start with a simple setting where all information is known to all players (complete information) and we will then move to more complex setting where some information is not known to all players (incomplete information).


This course provides a combination of seminars and lectures totalling 40 hours in the Michaelmas Term and 2 hours in the Summer Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the MT. 

Formative coursework

Weekly problem sets to be completed and discussed in class and a two hour mock exam in week 11 of MT.

Indicative reading

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


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Problem sets (50%) in the LT Week 1.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 34.5
Merit 30.1
Pass 26.5
Fail 8.8

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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: Government

Total students 2020/21: 43

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication