AØKA08030U History of Economic Thought

Volume 2013/2014
BSc in Economics
MSc in Economics

The course gives students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the development of economic theory from Adam Smith to the 1970s. Obviously, only the major writers and the most controversial issues will be taken into account.

The basic philosophy of this courses stems from the selected textbook – that economics is an emerging science, where evolution happens continuously. We see how the major concepts have been suggested, constructed, and further developed.

The textbook will be the frame of the course. It will be read by participating students and discussed at the lectures. This will approx. take up half of the available time. The other half will be spend on participating students writing and presenting papers. These papers will be based on independent research of relevant literature (the expositions can be focusing on writers – i.e. Wicksell – or themes – i.e. the evolution of the idea of external effects). Projects can the written and presented individually or in small groups of participating students, normal seminar rules apply.

An approved project is a condition for standing for the exam.

Learning Outcome
To provide an overview of economic thinking, to demonstrate  how economics has evolved over time, to give students knowledge about historical and theoretical preconditions for contemporary economic theory, and through this help students to a deeper understanding of the power of economics to clarify and solve many kinds of issues and problems.

Qualifications achieved: Participating students should become capable of recognizing and stating the position of basic key economic concepts and reasoning within the history of economics. Students should also become capable of demonstrating knowledge of the major theorists and their main texts in the history of economic thought. It is expected that students achieve the capacity to  (1) work with issues in the history of economic thought based on knowledge of basic economic theory,  (2) read and digest selected works in the history of economic thought and (3)  put historically given economic ideas and theories into a contemporary theoretical context.

Highest marks are obtained for examination papers that demonstrate independent and analytic comprehension, without essential errors, of selected problems in economic theory including a discussion of the theories' positions in the academic food chain. In addition, papers with the highest marks must demonstrate a capacity to draft and present key problems in the history of economic thought in a clear manner.


Agnar Sandmo: Economics Evolving: A History of Economic Thought, Princeton University Press, 2010

No particular qualifications are required except for the general knowledge about economic theory acquired at the two first years of the BSc program, which is precondition for being able to participate in and understand the content of the course.
General knowledge about economic theory equivalent to Microeconomics B and Macroeconomics B in the Bachelor’s programme is required. This is necessary in order to be able to participate in and understand the course's discussion of economic thinkers' ideas and texts.
Lectures, discussions, paper writing and presenting.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 3
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 161
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 3 hours under invigilation
3 hours written at Peter Bangsvej.
Exam registration requirements
It is a condition for standing for the exam that a paper has been presented and accepted.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period
Will be updated before the start of the semester
Same as ordinary. But if only a few students have registered for the re-exam, the exam might change to an oral exams with a synopsis to be handed in. This means that the examination date also will change.
Criteria for exam assesment
The Student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course.