MA Political Science - Philosophy and Political Theory

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Theoretical Approaches to Political Economy

Course unit fact file
Unit code POEC61011
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is the core course for the MA in Political economy and will provide the theoretical grounding students require to pursue the other pathways for the programme. The course will typically cover classical, Marxian, institutionalist, Austrian and public choice perspectives in political economy. In exploring these traditions students will become familiar with some of the major theorists in each tradition including figures such as Hume, Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, Polanyi, Mises, Hayek and Buchanan. The course will also involve the critical analysis of central concepts in political economy as they have developed in these traditions such as, value, welfare, power, liberty, equality, self-interest, development, efficiency and exploitation.


This course aims to provide students with the theoretical grounding in political economy which they can employ in whichever particular pathway of study they will pursue in the MA in Political Economy programme. It will introduce students to some of the central classical and contemporary traditions within political economy and will enable students to understand and evaluate the arguments of the major theorists in those traditions. It will also enable students to critically analyse and employ central concepts in political economy.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • understand and evaluate the central claims and arguments by different theorists and traditions in political economy;
  • articulate the differences between these theorists and traditions;
  • analyse and employ some of the central concepts of political economy.
  • the ability to analyse the argument of key primary texts;
  • the ability to formulate their own informed views about the traditions and texts studied;
  • the ability to write a cogent and well-argued essay on a topic taken from the course unit;

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will take place in weekly two-hour lectures, coupled with a one-hour weekly seminar. Seminars will each week be led by brief student presentations.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%

80% Essay – 2,800 words, 20% Participation (learning log,700 words)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 270

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Franco Galdini Unit coordinator

Additional notes


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