Political Economy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Stephane Wolton

Dr Stephane Wolton CBG 3.40


This course is available on the MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, MSc in Economics, MSc in Economics (2 Year Programme), MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) (LSE and Peking University) and MSc in Political Science (Political Science and Political Economy). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students must have completed Introductory Course in Mathematics and Statistics (EC400).

In exceptional circumstances, students may take this course without EC400 provided they meet the necessary requirements and have received approval from the course conveners (via a face to face meeting), the MSc Economics Programme Director and their own Programme Director. Contact the Department of Economics for more information ( regarding entry to this course.

Students should have completed courses in intermediate level microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics.

Course content

This course proposes a broad overview of seminal papers and recent advances in the growing field of Political Economy. The course covers both theoretical and empirical works. Each lecture is organized around a theme, with themes changing every year as a function of recent debates in the scholarly community and current problems in the world. In the academic year 2023/24, topics will include elections in developed and developing democracies, the political affect of media online and offline, interest groups, populism, democratic backsliding, discrimination, as well as several lectures on politics in autocracies.  The course material will expand students’ capacity to think about policy and about relevant issues at the intersection of economics and political science.


22 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the AT. 20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of seminars in the WT. 1 hour of seminars in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of WT only (no lectures or classes that week).

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 60 hours across Autumn Term, Winter Term and Spring Term.

There will be a mock exam and a revision session in the first week of ST (on-campus if possible or online).

Formative coursework

At least two written assignment for handing in per term (assignment will include some work with data sets provided by the instructor).

Indicative reading

Most of the reading is from journal articles; lists will be supplied at the start of each term. Two books are of particular interest for students to get started: T Besley, Principled Agents? Selection and Incentives in Politics, Oxford University Press, 2005 and T Persson & G Tabellini, Political Economics: Explaining Political Outcomes, MIT Press, 2000.


Assessment path 1
Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.
Essay (50%, 6000 words) in the ST.

Assessment path 2
Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Students taking MSc Economics must take Assessment path 1 and will be required to submit the extended essay at the start of ST.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2022/23: 10

Average class size 2022/23: 10

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.