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History of Economic Thought



GED, ID, PSc, Ec

Admissions requirements

Principles of Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, or similar.


Though the course is fully accessible to beginning readers in economics, the course provides a thorough overview of the evolution of economic theory from its earliest formation to the present day, with an emphasis on the developments since Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations in 1776.

The course focusses on developing an understanding of the interrelationships that exists between the historical environment and the economic theories used to understand this social reality. How did economic theories, as well as economic policy issues, evolve in response to changes in technology, market institutions, and political structures? The emphasis will be on those topics that are of continuing present-day interest.

The course introduces the students to different economic theories, ideologies and concepts of great thinkers such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Carl Menger, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek.

Course objectives

  • The course is historical in content and international in perspective allowing students to describe the influence of evolving economic thought on contemporary global economics.

  • The course aims to let students to compare and contrast the evolution of economic theories, concepts and policies. The students are expected to acquire adequate basic and essential analytical skills to enable them to conduct individual research; analyze the various theories and be able to relate these to practical situations; infer the various economic concepts introduced by various theoreticians and be able to determine its relevance to economic activities.

  • The ability to detect the differences between the main schools of economic thought, to describe the historical debates between the advocates of different theories, to interpret contemporary events from the perspective of the great economic thinkers who have preceded us, to write coherently about the just-said.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course uses a variety of teaching methods: interactive lecturing, student presentations, class debate and is writing-intensive.


  • Book response papers: two papers of 3 pages each (10%). You will be required to read four chapters of Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers before the second, as well as, before the fourth week does start. After you do the reading, write a 3 page response briefly summarizing the chapters and one or two major ideas of the economists discussed in each reading and do relate those ideas to the present.

  • Discussion papers (in total 35%). Presentation and student-led discussion of, at least, two weekly seminars. The weekly seminars are chaired by students. Depending on the number of students, each student has to chair at least two seminar-meetings (20%). The student starts each seminar with giving an overview (a first written-out draft) of the structure and contents of the seminar and giving a preliminary summery of the contents of that week’s required reading of the two text books. Other students are asked to give their ideas/questions on that week’s reading which subsequently will be discussed. The student incorporates the results of the discussion in the first draft and does sent the two final papers (5 pages each) to the lecturer before next week’s session (15%).

  • Class participation (15%).

  • Research paper (in total 40%). The largest component of your grade is the final research paper of about 15 pages. The grade will consist of a presentation of your research (5%) and the final paper itself (35%). The final paper is intended to be an independent, creative research project on a subject in the history of economic thought that you find particularly interesting.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

  • Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers), (any edition)

  • Steven Pressman (2014), Fifty Major Economists, third edition, Routledge.

  • Sylvia Nasar, Grand Pursuit. The Story of the People Who Made Modern Economics, Fourth Estate


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Auke R. Leen:


Preparation for first session: reading from the book of Heilbroner, the introduction and the chapters I (the Economic Revolution) till V (The Visions of the Utopian Socialists).