module specification

EC4001S - Economics and Society (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Economics and Society
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 30%   15 min presentation and student debate
Seen Examination 70%   Part seen part unseen exam (2 hours)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module develops student’s knowledge and understanding of the development of economic theory and  provides an introduction to some major economic issues facing contemporary society.

Module aims

This module has been designed to introduce students to the development of economic theory.  By the end of the module students will have:

  1. stablished the basic understanding of the evolution of economic theory and an understanding of major current economic issues;
  2. developed their study skills, analytical  and evaluative capabilities, and improved their key transferable skills and knowledge that will be of value in employment and self-employment;
  3. enhanced their ability to carry out independent scholarly research contributing to an analysis and evaluation of important economic and financial problems.

It also aims to develop students' skills, in particular: academic study skills; literacy; critical thinking; subject research; communication, including oral presentation; and applied analysis.


The evolution of economic ideas and major contemporary economic issues

Political economy and free market order. How markets were understood in relation to political, moral order. Plato, Hobbes, Smith, Ricardo, Chalmers, Mill.
Critics of political economy - moral economy. How critics raised issues around the absence of moral relations in markets and how this related to the understanding of slavery. How the market order was understood.  Carlyle, Ruskin, Charles Dickens- debate with Mill.
Critics of political economy. Marx, Hobson.
Alfred Marshall. Professionalisation of Economics, poverty and the assessment of policy.
Keynes and need for a macro perspective. Crisis of Keynesianism. Hayek, Friedman, and Lucas.
‘Market fundamentalism’. Fama, Jensen, and Lucas. Efficient market hypothesis. Shareholder value, global liberalisation, economics and global financial crisis.
Problems of market fundamentalism: Stiglitz, Krugman, and Sen.
Big Society theorists. From market fundamentalism to free market order?

The abuse of common property resources. Externalities and environmental quality.
Public goods and their appropriate level of provision. Merit goods and the economic rationale of the welfare state.
Monopoly, competition, and regulation.
Inequality. The distribution and state redistribution of national income.

Learning and IT development
Reading and reviewing academic research, presenting arguments in various formats, the concept of critical thinking.

Developing professional communication skills of presentation, audience engagement and participation to a basic professional standard, and demonstrate sound debating skills and the ability to present coherent arguments and influence and persuade others.

Learning and teaching

Students’ learning is organised around direct contact time with the teaching team, and reflective independent learning. The direct contact time takes place through lectures, seminars and group workshops. Students must complement this 'formal' learning activity with further reading of the material suggested in the teaching sessions, using economic analysis, research, writing, planning and preparation for class tests, and the final exam.

Student contact time will typically be 3 hours per week. Lectures will normally be around 2 hours duration and will deliver core knowledge. Workshop and other activities may replace the formal lecture from time to time. As this module emphasises the relation between economic history and the application theory as policy, a seminar of around 1 hour will provide examples of how to use economics to understand and analyse the developments covered each week. Formative feedback will be provided in these seminars.

Contact time with teaching teams will be organised around a range of learning activities including active learning to acquire knowledge and understanding, group reading and analysis of journal articles, discussion of policy issues and debate.

Lecture and seminar activities are structured to enable students to develop basic knowledge and  then to progress to develop higher order skills of synthesis and critical evaluation. All activities require students to carry out independent work prior to the seminars.

Study and research skills are supported in lectures and seminars, and through independent directed learning and assessment. Skills development  is enhanced through learning in seminars, working co-operatively in groups. Inititative and independence is developed progressively through the module so that students take greater responsibility for their work.

Contemporary student debates are integrating sessions which draw on module material (2 weeks around Easter. Groups of 3 or 4 students prepare arguments for or against propositions in a present, reply, questioning, open discussion format. Presentatations involve  6-8 students per week, 12-18 students in two week periods.

The module makes use of virtual learning environment platforms (WebLearn, Publisher E-resources) in which module lecture material, course handbooks, test questions, previous assessment with feedback, and other material is placed. Students are required to engage with research published in academic journals. ICT resources include links to key web resources such as Government departments, research institutes, historical sites and multi-lateral organisations. Students will be shown to treat all material with caution and research from a variety of sources.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of how economic theory has evolved since the time of Adam Smith and to relate this understanding to current economic problems and debates;
  2. demonstrate study skills development including academic reading, writing, critical thinking and reference, plan, communicate, self-manage, and effectively present  the results of their own work.
  3. develop a presentation to a basic professional standard, and demonstrate sound debating skills and the ability to present coherent arguments and influence and persuade others.

Assessment strategy

The coursework will examine issues, policy and application; ability to apply and to critically assess what students learn directly to their own research in this field; ability to marshal evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to understand and critically evaluate theoretical and policy issues in the area.

The final exam will test the student’s knowledge and understanding of the key debates covered in the module . Students will be required to answer questions relating to the evolution of economic theory.


Backhouse R E. The Penguin History of Economics. Penguin,  2002.
Heilbroner R. The Worldly Philosophers:  The Lives, Times and Ideas of The Great Economic Thinkers, Penguin, 7th Ed.
Krugman P. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008, December 2008.

Derek H. Aldcroft . The European Economy 1914-2000, 2001
A. Alexander. The Arc of Japan’s Economic Development, 2008.
Levy, David & Peart, Sandra How the Dismal Science Got Its Name: Classical Economics and the Ur-Text of Racial Politics  The University of Michigan Press
Paul Mason Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed  Verso
Raghuram G. Rajan Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy Princeton University Press

Joseph Stiglitz Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy Penguin
Blond, Philip, Red Tory Faber
Mankiw, N.G. and Taylor, M.P. (2010)  Economics, Special Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning
Sloman, J. and Wride, A. (2009), Economics, 7th edition, Prentice Hall

Selected articles from the Financial Times