EU455      Half Unit
Concepts in Political Economy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Robert Hancke CBG.6.02


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in European Studies, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Fudan) and MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically very high. Priority is given to students from the European Institute, so students from outside this programme may not get a place.

Course content

The aim of the course is to engage students with relevant concepts in political economy and their main applications in European studies. The course will anchor the degree in historical and current debates about the nature of political economy, the role of institutions and the pros and cons of different methodological approaches taken by political economists. The aim of the lectures is to outline key political economy concepts and their theoretical background while the seminars explore the uses and limits of the respective concepts through the systematic analysis of relevant research papers.


This course is particularly recommended for students who wish to pursue a research path in political economy, but also for those who have no background in political science and therefore not familiar with conceptual debate. EU455 is also one of the three core course options for the MSc Political Economy of Europe, two of which must be chosen.


Among the topics covered are: concepts and theories in political economy; the role of ideas, interests and institutions; the tension between democracy and capitalism; rational choice versus behavioural political economy; two-level games; delegation to independent agents; accountability and legitimacy in policy-making; veto players and joint-decision traps; representation and partisanship.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Autumn Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term, and a review session will be held at the start of the Spring Term to prepare for the online assessment.

Formative coursework

One formative essay of 1,200 words on a seminar question based on a presentation in class.

Indicative reading

Caporaso, J and  Levine, D (1992) Theories of Political Economy, Cambridge; Olson, M (2000) The Rise and Decline of Nations, London: Yale University Press. 


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

The online assessment for this course will be administered via Moodle.  Questions will be made available at a set date/time and students will be given a set period in the ST to complete the answers to questions and upload their responses back into Moodle.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 50

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half 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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication