Seminar: Study a Classical Writer - cancelled

Course content

In economics we often refer to specific writers when characterizing economic theory i.e. ”this is a model where Ricardian equivalence applies”, ”typically Austrian”, and “Nash equilibrium”, “Piketty is a typical Marxist” or “Keynesian model”.

For some this may make things clear. D oing History of Economic Thought or diving into the writings of famous, sometimes late economists may not be strictly necessary. One can certainly become an excellent economist without knowing what Ricardo himself thoughts about debt vs tax financed public expenditure or whether Keynes, himself was “Keynesian” in the sense of modern textbooks.

However, when you learn how the ideas were construed, you may obtain a better and deeper understanding of the concepts. You can of course learn what “external effects” are by reading a text of public or environmental economics, however when you see how Marshall and Pigou struggled, you get something extra. Sometimes you even learn something of surprising relevance as when Keynes 1919 analyzed the Peace Treaty after World War I.

In the course on “History of Economic Thought” we read (a very good) text on the development of economic ideas. In this seminar, we do the opposite – you select a writer (typically pre 1970) and/or a text and write a seminar about your findings. “Why do we have unemployment in Keynes’ model?” or “why did Marx believe that capitalists would destruct themselves?”

You are welcome to consult all kinds of texts but it is essential that you try to get to grips with the original stuff.



MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome

Having completed the seminar you will obtain some idea about the scientific value added one gets from reading original sources.

Planning/start-up meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-draft of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

A possible starting point is a textbook on the history of economic thought.

Agnar Sandmo: Economics Evolving; Princeton 2011

Mark Blaug: Economic Theory in Retrospect, 5th ed, Cambridge 1999

Roger E. Backhouse: The Penguin History of Economics, Penguin 2002

Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels: The History of Economic Thought A Reader, 2ed, Routledge 2013.

Lionel Robbins: A History of Economic Thought, The LSE Lectures, Princeton 1998

Keith Tribe: The Economy of the Word, Oxford Studies in the History of Economics, 2015

Michel De Vroey: A History of Macroeconomics, from Keynes to Lucas and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, 2016


It is recommended to have followed the course History of Economic Thought.

• Planning meeting: September 7 2017, 14-16
• Supervision: By appointment from end August 2017.
• Deadline commitmentpaper: In agreement with the lecturer and not later than 1st of October.
• Deadline of pre-paper uploaded to Absalon:: November 1st
• Presentations/Workshops: Week 46.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- a seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum and at KUNet for seminars.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

The student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course and the objectives stated in the Curriculum.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • English
  • 206