GV4C8      Half Unit
Game Theory for Political Science

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Torun Dewan


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Science (Political Science and Political Economy). This course is available on the MSc in Political Science (Political Behaviour), 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.

Students enrolled on the Political Science and Political Economy stream of the MSc in Political Science 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. We will also analyse simple settings where all information is known to all players (complete information) and then move to more complex settings 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 Autumn Term and 2 hours in the Spring Term. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the AT. 

Formative coursework

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

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 spring exam period.
Problem sets (50%) in the ST Week 1.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 40
Merit 25.2
Pass 21.7
Fail 13

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2022/23: 26

Average class size 2022/23: 9

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
  • Problem solving
  • Communication