GV482      Half Unit
Political Science and Political Economy: Current Issues

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Stephane Wolton


This course is compulsory on the 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.

Other postgraduates wanting to take the course (space permitting) require the permission of the teachers responsible.


Students should either have attended GV4C8 and GV481 or equivalent courses. Knowledge of game theory at the level of GV4C8 and empirical method to the level of GV481 is required.

Course content

The course will cover four topics in political science and political economy. Each topic will be covered over two to three weeks. During these weeks, students will learn how game theory and empirical methods can be used to understand and think critically about pressing political issues. In recent years, the topics covered have been: 1) The critiques of democracy, 2) Populism, 3) Discrimination, 4) Autocracy or democracy?.

During the lecture, students will be taught important papers on the topics covered. Seminars will be of two sorts. Some seminars will consist of replication exercises (Weeks 1, 5, 8, 9, and 11). Others will be problem set based (Weeks 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10). All seminars will be related to topics viewed during the lectures.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Winter Term (20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars). There will also be a take-home mock exam and a two-hour revision seminar in the Spring Term.

There will be a reading week in WT Week 6. 

Formative coursework

Students will hand in one problem set and one replication exercise before the reading week. There will also be a take-home mock exam in the Spring Term.

Indicative reading

Mostly journal articles. The reading list varies each year.


Coursework (50%).
Online assessment (50%) in the ST.

The coursework will consist of a research project on a political science issue picked by the course convenor. Students will be provided with a dataset and will be asked to empirically investigate the question at hand. The online exam will consist of a problem question using game theory and an essay question (estimated amount of effort required for the online exam: 3 hours in a 24 hour-period, though there is no limit on how much time the student spends on the exam during the 24-hour period).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2022/23: 27

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

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.