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History of Economic Thought

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
3 year, 1, 2 module

Course Syllabus


The purpose of the course is to give students an overview of the process of development of economic thought from the Antiquity till the second half of the 20th century. Special attention shall be paid to the nature of the problems the economists of all times faced and tried to solve. Understanding of continuity and changes in the problem-solving activity of economists may contribute to a better grasp of the logic of the evolution of economics as a discipline. Upon successful completion of the course students should be able to distinguish between the main schools and trends in the history of economic thought and to understand the analytical foundations of the approaches in the economics of the 19th and 20th centuries. The course is aimed at students of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of BSc.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Work with information: to find, evaluate and use information from various sources, necessary to solve scientific and professional problems (including those on the basis of a systematic approach)
  • Critically evaluate and rethink the accumulated experience (own and others'), to reflect on professional and social activities;
  • Critically evaluate the main trends of modern economics, competently lead a discussion about the arguments in favor of each of them;
  • Based on the description of economic processes and phenomena, he is able to build theoretical models, analyze and meaningfully interpret the results obtained.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • - describe Plato’s social and political theory - understand Aristotle’s realistic approach and main principles of analysis - critically analyze the notions of Money, exchange and wealth in Aristotle’s works including of justice and ‘just price’
  • - understand the social conditions that lead to the formation of ET of Middles Ages - understand and critically analyze the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas including the concepts of money, value, usury, and just price - understand the influence of the scholastic thought on the subsequent development in economic theory
  • - understand and evaluate the role of international markets in the development of ET and policy of nation-states - describe and analyze National Schools of Mercantilism in their theory and practice
  • - understand the significance of the notion of value and its interrelations with concepts of price and money - describe and evaluate the development of the value theory in the given period - describe and evaluate the development of the monetary theory in the given period
  • - understand the principles of new method of inquiry - understand Petty’s concept of wealth - understand the role of commodity and market in Petty’s theory, understand the process of distribution and price-formation
  • - understand the intellectual context of Phisiocratic thought - describe the theories of Boisguilebert and Cantillon and evaluate them as predecessors of Quesnay - understand and analyze Quesnay’s Tableau Economique as a model of the circular flow and its place in future development of ET - describe the principles of economic policy including Laissez-faire doctrine - describe and evaluate the contribution of Turgot
  • - understand Smith’s moral philosophy, describe ‘The Smith’s problem’ - describe The Wealth of Nations and its significance for economics as a discipline - use the notions of value, distribution, factors of the economic development, the division of labour and capital thought the prism of Smith’s ET
  • - understand the development of ET in the context of reforms and revolution - describe Malthus’ theory and his interpretation of economics as ‘a dismal science’ - explain the difference between the problem ‘Say’s law’ and the under-consumption theories (Malthus, Sismondi) - understand and describe Bentham’s theory of utilitarianism
  • - understand the principles of Ricardian methodology - describe Ricardo’s theory of value and distribution, his views on Money and taxation, International trade theory and the Corn Laws - understand the role of technological change and employment in Ricardian theory
  • - understand the relationship between economics and ideology - describe the rise of the socialist ideas - evaluate ideas of Bastia as a defender of economic liberalism - explain debates on money and credit in the English literature - understand the theory of J.S. Mill and the significance of the first synthesis in economics
  • - understand the interrelations between political economy and philosophy - understand the principles of Marxian methodology - describe the relations between Marx’s theory and the classical school - explain the theory of commodity fetishism, theory of value and the concept of exploitation and theory of reproduction - analyze Marx’s view on economic dynamics - be able to critically analyze results of revolutionary experiments in the context of theory and practice of Marxism
  • - describe German tradition of Staatswissenschaft, romanticism and conservatism -understand and explain List’s life and ideas - explain how the old historical school constituted as a reaction to the classical school - explain the concept of “National economy” and problems of economic policy - describe the evolution of the historical school
  • - understand Schmoller’s theory and Methodenstreit - describe the historical school in Russia - understand the theories of Sombart and Weber as a part of “New” historical school
  • - describe and explain the context and the results of the precursors of marginalism - be able to explain methodological changes, a subjective theory of value, the concept of equilibrium, rational choice - understand and use mathematical methods in economics - describe and explain Jevons’s theory, namely theoretical model of exchange, utility and price.
  • - describe and explain J.B. Clark’s ideas and the theory of marginal productivity - understand the main methodological principles of the Austrian school of marginalism, the concept of economic goods, exchange and price - explain the notion of capital and interest rate in the Böhm-Bawerk’s theoretical system
  • - understand the main ideas of the Lausanne school of marginalism, including Walras and Pareto - understand the general equilibrium model and its significance, explain the existence, uniqueness and stability of equilibrium and its relation to optimum - describe the social implications of the general equilibrium theory
  • - describe Marshall’s theoretical synthesis, methodological ideas and use of mathematics - understand and explain partial equilibrium method, concept of elasticity and representative firm - explain the difference between the long-run and short-run analysis, consumer and producer surplus - describe Marshall’s take on theory of welfare and taxes
  • - explain Veblen’s critique of neoclassical theory, analysis of institutions and the impact of the institutions on behaviour of economic agents - describe relationship between industry and commerce
  • - understand the process of development ant the results in the theory of cycles - understand M.I. Tugan-Baranovsky’s ideas and his theory of crises. - describe N.D. Kondratiev’s theory and his contribution to the theory of economic dynamics - be able to describe Soviet debates on industrialisation - explain Schumpeter’s theory of economic development - describe ideas of R. Prebisch and Latin American structuralism
  • - describe Keynes’ life, writings and his intellectual background - explain and use Keynes’ monetary theory, the General Theory - understand the notions of liquidity preference, multiplier - explain the relation between savings and investment - describe Keynes’ recommendations for economic policy, reasons for rejection of Say’s law and of laissez-faire doctrine.
  • - explain the foundations of the new synthesis, the American Keynesians - explain the main principles of the Post-Keynesian school and theories of economic growth - understand the main principles of economics of the welfare state - be able to describe the reasons of the rise of monetarism
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction into the course. Economic thought of Ancient Greece
    History of economic thought as a discipline. Economic thought and economic analysis. Plato’s social and political theory. Aristotle’s ‘realistic’ approach, his main principles of analysis. Theory of justice and ‘just price’. Money, exchange and wealth in Aristotle’s works
  • Economic thought of the Middle Ages
    General description of the social conditions. What was the scholastic thought? Its foundations. St. Thomas Aquinas as a representative of the scholastic thought. The concepts of money, value, usury, and just price. Influence of the scholastic thought on the subsequent development in economic theory. The notion of natural law.
  • Mercantilism
    The development of the international market and the policy of the nation-states. Mercantilist theory and practice. National schools of the Mercantilism.
  • Theories of value and of money (16th – 18th centuries)
    The notion of value and its significance. Value, price, and money. The developments in value theory. The developments in monetary theory.
  • William Petty and the origins of Political Economy
    A new method of inquiry. The concept of wealth. Commodity and market. Distribution and prices.
  • The Physiocratic thought
    Intellectual context of the Physiocracy. Boisguilebert and Cantillon as precursors of Quesnay. Quesnay’s Tableau Economique: a model of the circular flow. The method and its future in economics. The principles of economic policy. Laissez-faire doctrine. Contribution of Turgot
  • Adam Smith’s economic theory
    His life and times. The tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith’s moral philosophy. ‘The Smith’s problem’. The Wealth of Nations and its significance for economics as a discipline. Smith’s theory of value and distribution. The factors of the economic development. The division of labour. The notion of capital. Economic liberalism.
  • Economic science at the turbulent time
    Reforms and the Revolution. Malthus: ‘a dismal science’. The problem ‘Say’s law’ vs. the under-consumption theories (Malthus, Sismondi). Bentham’s untilitarianism
  • David Ricardo
    His life and times. The Ricardian methodology. Ricardo’s theory of value and distribution. Money and taxation. International trade theory and the Corn Laws. Technological change and employment. The Ricardian School.
  • Economic science of 1830s – 1860s
    A general overview. Economics and ideology. The rise of the socialist ideas. Bastia as a defender of economic liberalism. Debates on money and credit in the English literature. J.S. Mill: the first synthesis in economics.
  • Economic and social theory of Karl Marx
    His life and times. Political economy and philosophy. The Marxian methodology. Marx and the classical school. Theory of commodity fetishism. Theory of value. The concept of exploitation. Theory of reproduction. Marx on economic dynamics. Some results of revolutionary experiments: theory and practice of Marxism.
  • The Historical School
    German tradition of Staatswissenschaft. Romanticism and conservatism. List: his life and ideas. The old historical school as a reaction to the classical school. The concept of “National economy” and problems of economic policy. Evolution of the historical school. Schmoller and Methodenstreit. The historical school in Russia. “New” historical school: Sombart and Weber.
  • The Marginalist revolution
    The context and the results. The precursors of the marginalism. Methodological changes. A subjective theory of value. The concept of equilibrium. Rational choice. Mathematical methods in economics. The schools of marginalism. Jevons: theoretical model of exchange. Utility and price. J.B. Clark and the theory of marginal productivity. The Austrian school of marginalism. Methodological principles. The concept of economic goods. Exchange and price. Capital and interest rate in the Böhm-Bawerk’s theoretical system.
  • General economic equilibrium
    The Lausanne school. Walras and Pareto. General equilibrium model and its significance. Existence, uniqueness and stability of equilibrium. Equilibrium and optimum. The social implications of the general equilibrium theory.
  • Partial equilibrium analysis: Alfred Marshall
    Marshall’s theoretical synthesis. Methodological ideas and use of mathematics. Partial equilibrium method. Concept of elasticity. Representative firm. Long-run and short-run analysis. Consumer and producer surplus. Theory of welfare and taxes.
  • American institutionalism
    Veblen: his life and ideas. Veblen’s critique of neoclassical theory. Analysis of institutions. The impact of the institutions on behaviour of economic agents. Relationship between industry and commerce. Further developments of the “old” institutionalism.
  • Studies in business cycles and economic development
    Early explorations into the theory of cycles. M.I. Tugan-Baranovsky and his theory of crises. N.D. Kondratiev and his contribution to the theory of economic dynamics. Soviet debates on industrialisation. Schumpeter’s theory of economic development The concepts of modernization. R. Prebisch and Latin American structuralism.
  • John Maynard Keynes and the Keynesian revolution
    Keynes’ life and writings, his intellectual background. Keynes’ monetary theory. The General Theory. Liquidity preference. The concept of multiplier. Savings and investment. Recommendations for economic policy. Rejection of Say’s law and of laissez-faire doctrine. Keynes and the Keynesian theory.
  • Economic theory after Keynes
    The foundations of the new synthesis. The American Keynesians. The Post-Keynesian school. The theories of economic growth. Economics of the welfare state. The rise of the monetarism.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Class Participation
  • non-blocking Midterm exam
  • non-blocking End-of-course written exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.5 * Class Participation + 0.4 * End-of-course written exam + 0.1 * Midterm exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Roncaglia, A. (2005). The Wealth of Ideas : A History of Economic Thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=132292
  • The wealth of ideas : a history of economic thought, Roncaglia, A., 2006

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Smith, A. (2013). Wealth of Nations. Hertfordshire [England]: Wordsworth Editions. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1023596