University of Sydney Handbooks - 2013 Archive

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Political Economy

The Department of Political Economy is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

Program structure and content
Studies in Political Economy are a focal point for critical inquiry into contemporary national and international economic issues, taking account of their connections with social, political and environmental concerns. Political Economy is an excellent background for a wide range of careers such as journalism and the media, economic research, teaching, public service, non-government organisations and management.

Political economists study the relationship between the main players in the economy, such as transnational corporations, small businesses, households, national governments, consumers and trade unions. To get a good understanding of how the economy works, they draw on different currents of economic thought – from the birth of capitalism to the modern globalisation era. They study the sources of economic power and how the exercise of that power impacts on the lives of millions of people.

Students seeking some general knowledge of economic issues to accompany their studies in other subjects in the humanities or social sciences can take introductory units in their first year. Others who want to go on to more thorough study of the subject may consider taking a major in Political Economy.

Requirements for a major
For a major in Political Economy, students must complete the following:

  1. 12 credit points of compulsory junior units in Political Economy
  2. 12 credit points of compulsory senior units in Political Economy
  3. At least 4 units of study (24 credit points) of senior elective units of study selected from the units offered (see units of study entries in this handbook).

Political Economy honours requires a further year of study, in which students write a thesis on a topic of their own choosing and do two seminar-based units of study. Intending honours students should take the honours preparation units during their second and/or third year units of study.

Contact/further information
Department website:

Chair of Department: Dr Damien Cahill