Description: This ten-week course offers a pluralist introduction to political economy and economics. We will examine nine competing schools of thought, each of which offer an original and distinctive illumination of economic and social reality. The course offers a level of learning that would at least match that which is offered by a University. However, you do not need to be connected to a university or to have studied political economy or economics previously to enrol in this particular subject. 

Design: This subject is taught in ‘flipped classroom’ mode whereby you first view an online lecture, then undertake some suggested reading and then participate in a weekly 90 minute tutorial zoom discussion (with a short break at the 45 minute mark). Tutorial sizes have a maximum upper limit of 19 people and are typically a bit less than this in order to generate a conversational, easy-going and genuinely interactive experience. The lectures and readings are all downloadable and may be done whenever you like. The lectures can either be viewed, or simply listened to as podcasts. On one one help is provided whenever you need to clarify anything. 

Commencement date and discussion group time(s)

The subject next runs in Term 4, 2021, starting Monday 4th of October 6pm via zoom, with access to the pre-recorded lecture and readings available now. Tutorial discussions will run via zoom Monday evenings 6pm to 7.30pm with a 5 minute break at the halfway mark. Further tutorial times will probably become available (including at times that will suit those living outside of Australia) so please get in touch and indicate your preferences if the Monday 6pm tutorial does not suit you. 

Cost (major currencies list below, contact us for costs in other currencies)

Australian Dollars    AUD$240 (waged), AUD$180 (unwaged).
US Dollars               US$160 (waged)    US$130 (unwaged)
Euros                       EUR135 (waged)    EUR110 (unwaged)
UK Pounds              GBP120 (waged)    GBP100 (unwaged)

Refunds: If you attend the first class and find that for some reason it is not what you are seeking then we can provide you with a full refund – provided that we are notified within 7 days of your payment. 

Assessment: There are regular questions and answers to allow you to self-test your knowledge, but the results of such self-tests are only available to you. Tutorial discussions are also a great opportunity to test and clarify your ideas.

Accreditation: The purpose of the course is to provide you with a high-quality, accessible, university-level introduction to political economy and economics rather than to provide formal accreditation in the form of a degree, certificate or similar. However, if you undertake and complete the course, you can obviously list that you have done so on your resume and we are able to provide verification of your participation and engagement with the subject.   

Student feedback: Previous student feedback can be viewed here

Week 1 institutional political economy

It is sometimes imagined that the economy is a system of markets when it is in fact a system of institutions (i.e. formal and informal rules). Whilst the market is definitely a central economic institution, it is necessarily nested inside other institutions and these other institutions exert a profound influence over how markets work. Lectures, readings and discussions will introduce you to key ideas in institutional political economy and its key figures such as Veblen, Galbraith and Myrdal.

Week 2 Behavioural economics

Behavioural economics brings psychological insights and methods into economic decision making. A major finding of this school of thought is that our decision making is often surprisingly poor. We consider what (if any) policy implications result from our regularly poor decisions, including contemplating the use of behavioural ‘nudges.’ We also contemplate how behavioural economics might (and might not) improve various real world outcomes. 

Week 3 neoclassical Economics (Part 1)

Neoclassical economics (sometimes called ‘mainstream economics’ or ‘traditional economics’) is something every political economist needs a working knowledge of. The ideas are presented in an accessible manner by focusing on understanding and evaluating the underlying ideas, rather than getting bogged down in technical or mathematical details. If you are seeking to better understand (and better evaluate) the way economists make sense of the world, this material should be both interesting and useful to you. We concentrate in this week of neoclassical microeconomics. 

 

Week 4 neoclassical Economics (Part 2)

We continue our examination of neoclassical economics, turning out attention to macroeconomics. In doing so, we will also introduced basic macroeconomic concepts that are relevant to all schools of thought.

 

Week 5 Post Keynesian political economy

We look at the often badly misunderstood ideas of J M Keynes, particularly his very important ideas concerning the fundamental uncertainty of the future, and the role of money in a market economy. We explain the difference between the Keynes as understood in the economic mainstream versus the ideas as they are expressed in his own writings. We also contemplate the role that Keynesian ideas could play in confronting contemporary challenges such as economic instability, stagnation, inequality and environmental constraint. 

Post Keynesian economics has some common ground with modern monetary theory, so there are some additional readings, including several written by MMTers themselves, for those that are interested in pursuing what (in my personal view) can regarded as an extension, or branch, of Post Keynesianism. 

Week 6 Radical political economy 

In this week we look at various radical schools of political economy including Marxian Economics, Georgist Economics and Radical Institutionalism. This is a big brief, but the major ideas and thinkers will be introduced as well as suggested readings and resources that can allow you to dig further into the subject area of your choice. 

Week 7 GEORGIST political economy 

In this week we look at the work of Henry George and of the issue of land in general. In turn this leads on to a more discussion of the rentier economy. Classical political economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo accorded land special status in economic theory. George extended this work in distinctive and original ways. If you are interested in issue of housing affordability and  inequality of wealth and income you will find much to engage with in Georgist ideas.   

Week 8 austrian economics

This week we look at the ideas of the often strongly libertarian Austrian School. Scholars working in this tradition include Menger, Mises and Hayek. We examine and evaluate the many interesting, important and influential ideas associated with this school. We also examine whether all the ideas of this school of thought are inherently libertarian or whether some of them might also be relevant and useful to those of a more progressive persuasion.    

Week 9 Feminist political economy

Feminist political economists (or feminist economists) seek to illuminate and remedy recurrent and often quite serious gender blind-spots in economic and social analysis to thereby produce better economic inquiry and policy analysis for all. We will examine the key ideas in feminist political economy and look at the policy implications of its analysis. 

 

Week 10 ecological political economy

Ecological political economy is an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary area of knowledge whose foundation stone is the recognition that the economic system sits inside a social system which in turn needs to exist inside the opportunities and constraints of an environmental system. We examine the key ideas and figures in this school. We give particular focus to evaluating de-growth versus steady-state versus green-growth economic systems.