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Political Economy of Natural Resources


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • Statistics

  • Mathematical Modeling or Mathematical Reasoning

  • Academic Writing

Basic understanding of economics and politics (as evidenced by successful completion of a 100-level course) is highly desirable for your successful progress in this class.


In this survey course, we will dissect one of the key puzzles in the development of countries increasingly recognized by academic and practitioner communities alike – paradoxically, countries that are endowed with abundant natural resources can be prone to having worse development records than those without such riches. We will look at this phenomenon, dubbed the “resource curse,” under a magnifying glass of various theories, evidence, etc.

Course Objectives

We will strive to broaden our knowledge and hone our tools to dissect, understand, and debate key challenges to sustainable development arising from natural resource wealth. Successful completion of this course should enable you to (achieve these learning outcomes – LO):

  1. understand and discuss key issues in the political economy of natural resource management;
  2. critically apply existing theoretical frameworks to evaluate specific country experiences;
  3. empirically identify existing or potential sources of challenges for specific resource-rich countries, their neighbors, partners and foes,
  4. work toward developing tailored remedies for such challenges and present findings to stakeholders and informed non-specialists.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

We will meet for two 1.45-hour seminars each week, starting each class with a brief recap and following with a discussion of a specific topic based on assigned readings. Most of our discussions will take the form of a structured interaction, including case-based debates, role-plays and simulations, so as to channel our brainstorming and musing productively, efficiently and in a fun way. Collaborative “experiential learning” exercises should help us apply our theoretical knowledge, hone analytical skills in simulated real-life settings, perceive the “reality” from the perspective of actors whose behavior we want to understand, and foster productive team work. Multi-media material should help us connect the dots among various ideas and phenomena. Your preparation, research, contribution and reflection are essential for your success in this course, for the quality of our interaction and, ultimately, the learning of the whole group.

Assessment Method

Learning outcomes 1-4: Contribution to in-class discussions and exercises - 15% (ongoing)
Learning outcomes 2-3: A case study report - 20% (week 4)
Learning outcomes 3-4: Group policy analysis/impact evaluation project - 30% (week 7)
Learning outcomes 1-3: Final research essay - 35% (week 8)

Reading list

Three books are recommended, although not required:

  • Humphreys, Macartan, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Joseph E. Stiglitz, eds. 2007. Escaping the Resource Curse. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. (all chapters are available online if you search for it).

  • Bain, Caroline. Guide to Commodities: Producers, Players and Prices, Markets, Consumers and Trends. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

  • Ross, Michael L. 2012. The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Anar Ahmadov,