History of Economic Thought

Course content

The course gives an overview of the development of economic theory from the forerunners of Adam Smith to our time. Although our main attention will be given to the major writers and to the economic issues, which were central to the development of economic theory, we shall occasionally consider also some less spectacular contributions. Much of what will be discussed are early formulations of what today is considered as standard economic theory,


Most writers in the history of economic thought emphasize that economics is a science in evolution, and that the development of economic theory has been fostered by the debate on the main economic issues in that period of time, so that concepts have been suggested, constructed, further developed, and possibly abandoned, as a responce to economic reality. 


MSc programme in Economics – elective course


Bacheloruddannelsen i økonomi – valgfag på 3. år

The Danish BSc programme in Economics - elective at the 3rd year.

Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:



  • Identify and give an overview over economic thinking and how economic theory has evolved over time.

  • Account for the historical and theoretical preconditions for contemporary economic theory.

  • Reflect on the power and coherence of economics and thereby realizing the said science’s limitations as well as strengths when working with real life issues.


  • Analyze historical texts and the process that creates economic theory.

  • Assess and discuss issues in the history of economic thought based on knowledge of basic economic theory.

  • Critically read and discuss selected works in the history of economic thought.


  • Complement and apply the learned knowledge and skills of economic thinking in other economics courses, papers and later on in the professionel world.
  • Implement new economic solutions with a deeper and more critical approach seen in relation to the development of economic theories.
  • Work with economics in a humbler, more critical and therefore safer way!

Lectures, discussions, supervision and paper writing.

We use the textbook indicated above, examples of original texts and occasionally other viewpoints will be introduced in the discussions. The course includes the writing of a voluntary midterm paper, and this will give the participants a possibility for selecting specific writers or ideas for a futher treatment on an individual basis.

Restrictions due to Coronavirus:
The teaching in this course may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online due to COVID-19. For further information, please see the course room on Absalon (for enrolled students).

  • Agnar Sandmo: Economics Evolving: A History of Economic Thought, Princeton University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-691-14842-7
  • Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman: Capital is back: Wealth-income Ratios in Rich Countries. 2014. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 2014 (pp. 1255 – 1310). ISSN 0033-5533

To be able to participate in and understand the course's discussion of economic thinkers' ideas and texts, it is necessary to have followed the first two years of the Bachelor of Economics or equivalent studies.

General knowledge about economic theory equivalent to "Microeconomics II" and "Macroeconomics II" in the Bachelor of Economics program, University of Copenhagen.

2 hours lectures 1 to 2 times a week from week 36 to 50 (except week 42).

Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures please press the link under "Timetable"/​"Se skema" at the right side of this page (E means Autumn).

You can find the similar information partly in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-E21; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Efterår/Autumn”
Press: “ View Timetable”

Please be aware:
- It is the students´s own responsibility to continuously update themselves about their studies, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the curriculum of the study programmes, the study pages at KUnet, student messages, the course descriptions, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, the personal schema at KUnet and myUCPH app etc.



Feedback will be given in connection with a voluntary written assignment during the semester.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 72 timer
individual take-home exam.

Due to other exams and holidays in the same period of the exam, the student have a period of two to three weeks to solve the assignment. See "Exam period".
The student decides when to solve and upload the exam assignment within the period.

The students are not allowed to communicate about the given problem-set and the solution with any one.

The exam assignment is in English and must be answered in English.

All aids allowed at the written exams.


For further information about allowed aids for the re-examination, please go to the section "Re-exam".


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam.
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.


In order to obtain the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.


In order to obtain the passing grade “02”, the student must in a satisfactory way be able to demonstrate a minimal acceptable level of  the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 152
  • Exam
  • 12
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Go to 'Signup' for
information about registration and enrollment

Information about admission and tuition fee:  Master and Exchange Programme, credit students and guest students (Open University)

and venue for teaching:
Go to 'Remarks'.

For exam and re-sits: Go to 'Exam'.
Department of Economics, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Hans Keiding   (12-516a777c37546e726d727770496e6c787737747e376d74)

See ‘Course responsibles’

Saved on the 19-05-2021

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students