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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.


In this Foundation of Political Economy course, as the name suggests, we will discuss the interaction between politics and the economy. It is a two-way relationship: the political process and institutions affect the economic progress and, conversely, the economic development shapes the political institutions. As in any Foundation courses, the key objective of this course is to provide you with useful basic analytical framework (or theories, or models), so that you can produce systematic answers to your subject of inquiries within the discipline– in this case, a specific question within the complex interactions between political and economic progress (or lack thereof).

Our approach is emphatically practical and analytical, not ideological. A good analytical framework shall be judged by its ability in addressing the essentials and providing clear direction to organize evidence; and its empirical testability and robustness. Critical analysis is welcome, but first things first – you need to know the basic. And this is why a Foundation course is indispensable.

In this course, we will, first, start with introduction to data. It serves two purposes: to get you a feel about the real magnitude of various political economy issues and to show the current wealth of available data and information that later you can use to examine the theories and/or contending arguments. In the second part, we will explore basic conceptual definitions and logics of politics and economics; and the inherent gap in the system that make politics and economy are closely intertwined. In this part, we will also discuss on how we think about the actors’ behaviour (voters/economic agent, interest groups, and the state) and the rules of the game (market and institutions). In the third part, we will look up theories and evidence on selected major contemporary political economy issues: economic growth, poverty and inequality, trade and globalization, labor market, and economic crisis and stabilization policy.

We will utilize various relevant journal articles, book chapters, and research reports.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • possess an understanding of key concepts and theoretical approaches in classical and contemporary political economy.

  • develop an ability to examine insights from main political economy approaches and theories and its debates.

  • 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.

  • possess basic analytical tools to study key issues of economic growth, poverty and inequality, trade and globalization, labor market, and economic crisis and stabilization policy.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

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.


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 Tutorial-lecturer in advance. Being absent at more than two of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (40% 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 Tutorial-lecturer.

Assessment method


  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with short open questions and (up to) 50% multiple choice questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 40%
Final Exam 60%

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 and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

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


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 60% of the exam material, replacing the earlier Final Exam grade. 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 2023 – 2024.

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.

Reading list

Reading list will be made available on Brightspace at the start of the course. There is no particular textbook for this course. Readings are mostly journal articles and chapters of books indicated in each lecture topic. We expect students to read them before coming to the class. We also encourage students to read popular political economy books. Ideally, students should read widely and critically.


General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.



Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). The use ofAI chatbot (i.e., ChatGPT) for assignments and final essay is not permitted.