nl en

Foundations of Political Economy


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


Political economy is a multidisciplinary field premised on the assumption that economic aspects of social life may not be understood independently of the broader sets of social relations within which they are embedded. This course surveys major theoretical and empirical concepts and approaches in political economy and uses these to explore contemporary and historical themes and trends. Adopting a problem based approach, students will gain an appreciation of how ideas and methods in political economy can assist an understanding of social and economic aspects of life
in a variety of settings.

Course objectives

Students who complete this course will possess an understanding of key concepts and theoretical approaches in classical and contemporary political economy. They will learn to develop comparative perspectives on political economy, and to collect and analyze data on a variety of themes across a variety of regional and national settings. Students will demonstrate an ability to combine insights from different varieties of political economy. They will possess an understanding of institutional features and social origins and dynamics of economic systems in relation to such key issues as economic growth and productivity, welfare and inequality, and features of capitalism in high, middle, and low-income countries.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


It is the intention that all plenary lectures for this course will be made available in web lecture form, no later than 10 days before the mid-term and final exams, respectively. Please note that these web lectures are intended as additional aid in studying for the exams, not as replacement for the lectures. Students should also not rely on the presence of web lectures for their study plans as they are an extra service and their availability cannot be assured. In the past technical problems have resulted in web lectures not being available.


Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than two of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (30% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first two sessions. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 140 hours, broken down by:

Component Estimated time
Attending lectures 24 hours
Attending tutorials 12 hours
Assessment hours (exams) 4 hours
Study of compulsory literature 40 hours
Preparation of on-line self-tests and journal entries 10 hours
Preparation for tutorials 10 hours
Preparation for Midterm and Final Exams 40 hours

Assessment method


  • Midterm Exam:

    Written examination with:

    25 multiple choice questions (50%);

    four single-paragraph-length short answer questions (20%);

    one essay question (30%).

  • Final Exam:

    Written examination with:

    25 multiple choice questions (50%);

    four single-paragraph-length short answer questions (20%);

    one essay question (30%).


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade, Midterm Exam grade, and Final Exam grade.

  • The weighted average of the Midterm Exam grade and the Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the weighted average of Midterm- and Final Exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier Midterm- and Final Exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2019 – 2020.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

The readings for this course will include a mix of texts drawn from academic texts, scholarly articles and books, technical and policy documents, and popular and business press. An example of a possible text is Clift, B., 2014. Comparative political economy: states, markets and global capitalism. Palgrave Macmillan. There will be many other texts, as indicated above, to be specified later through Blackboard or in class.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Tutorials and Lectures is mandatory.

  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, as long as they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.D. London

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies