Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

History of Economic Thought ECON4048

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 15
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will aim to introduce students to the origins of modern economic thought; the development of the main traditions and the differences and controversies between them, and demonstrate their contemporary relevance.


10 x 2-hour lectures, 

1 x 1-hour revision lecture.


Please refer to MyCampus for timetable.

Requirements of Entry

Entry to an Honours programme in Economics or a minimum grade C3 (average) in Economics 2A and 2B for students taking an Honours programme in another subject.

Excluded Courses





ILO (covered)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course examines the history of economic ideas and the evolution of the main schools of economic thought from the eighteenth century to the present day. The aims of the course are to:

■ Trace the origins of modern economic thought

■ Explore the development of the main traditions and the differences between them

■ Introduce the main controversies stimulated by the differences between the main schools of thought with regard to their contemporary relevance

■ Demonstrate that the subject is rather more than the definition once offered that it was 'the wrong opinions of dead white men'

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Appreciate the history, development, and evolution of economic ideas and their contemporary relevance;

2. Critically appreciate the diversity of economic approaches and how this impacts on the advocacy of certain policies;

3. Explain the contributions of key figures in economic thought;

4. Explain the gains and losses to the discipline of the forming of different schools of thought;

5. Assess how economists have sought to apply different economic principles to applied problems and policy issues;

6. Understand the emergence of an economics canon alongside the emergence of economics as a distinct discipline.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.