History of Economic Thought
Econ. 3173

Course Objectives:

The major aims of this course are to chart the development of economics through the ages and to understand how the past ideas in economics have contributed to the scope and content of modern economics. We shall discuss major methodological issues in the development of the ideas, understand the relationship between development of a theory and the prevailing socioeconomic conditions, examine internal working of the theories that provide particularly useful insights and their broader implications for the formulation of economic and social policy.

Although we shall review the development of economic ideas from Aristotle to the present, our focus will however be on the major contributions to economic analysis from Adam Smith to Alfred Marshall.


This is a seminar course. All students are expected to work collaboratively in person and through the electronic media. We shall have our distribution list on the computer network to enable us to bounce our ideas with each other twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! We shall attempt to cover the material presented in chapters 1-11 and 14 in the text indicated below. Coverage of the material in other chapters will depend on the availability of time and your enthusiasm.

You are expected to review assigned segments of two original works and complete your assignments on time for each class and present them to the class for discussion. In addition, you are expected to maintain your learning log and submit it to me at the end of Wednesday classes. Late assignments/learning log will not be accepted without a valid excuse.


Class Assignments: 40 marks
Learning log and active participation: 30 marks
Comprehensive exam: 30 marks


Harry Landreth and David C. Colander, History of Economic Thought, Third Edition, 1994

This book is only a guide to the coverage of material and approach to the study. History of Economic Thought, as any other history course, requires many more readings. A list of suggested readings are given at the end of each chapter in the book and several of them and others will be assigned to you to gain a better grasp of the subject matter as we proceed.

Personal Contact:

Personal contact with each other is very important in the collaborative form of learning. We shall maintain a distribution list of all students in the course, including myself, so that you can reach any or all of us at any time to discuss a problem. I am, in person, sure to be available during the office hours indicated above. At other times, please drop in and see if I am there, or phone, or send an e-mail message. Further, if , at any time, you wish to have an informal discussion over a coffee or lunch break, you are most welcome!

Who should take this course?:

If you have a good background of the principles of economics from an intro course and you are keen to learn the development of economic ideas over time and their implications for the principles of modern economics and policies, you will enjoy the course. Your background in the intermediate micro and macro theory will be an asset but it is not essential. The course is strongly recommended for students planning to pursue a graduate programme in economics.

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