University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

Download full 2016 archive Page archived at: Fri, 13 May 2016 14:40:30 +1000

Political Economy

The Department of Political Economy is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS), and is the only one its kind in Australia.

About the major

A major in Political Economy will equip you to understand a range of competing economic theories. You will learn how to apply these different theories to analyse contemporary economic issues. You will also study the historical development of capitalist economies and their institutional foundations. In junior units, you are introduced to the principal schools of economic thought and the historical development of the modern international economy. The senior (intermediate and advanced) units progressively build upon these foundations. You can specialise in particular approaches to understanding the economy and can choose from a range of contemporary political economic issues, including economic development, the distribution of income and wealth, the political economy of human rights, finance, neoliberalism, the environment, business cycles, global political economy, work and gender. Completing a major in political economy shows that you have developed the skills to analyse economic issues of important contemporary public concern, including their social and political aspects.

Pathway through the major

A major in Political Economy requires at least 36 senior credit points from the unit of study table, including at least 12 credit points of core 2000-level units of study and 6 credit points from 3000-level units of study.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Political Economy. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete two junior units of study: ECOP1001 Economics as a Social Science and ECOP1003 International Economy and Finance.

ECOP1001 introduces you to historical and contemporary developments in economic thought including the classical, Marxist, Keynesian, institutionalist and neoclassical traditions. ECOP1003 introduces you to the key dynamics of the global economy and to important debates about its operation and effects. Together, these units provide a grounding in the key concepts and analytical concerns of the principal schools of economic thought, the insights into current problems and policy approaches provided by these different schools, an appreciation of national and international economic policies and regulation, and an understanding of the major forces shaping the global capitalist economy.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You complete 12 credit points of core senior-intermediate (2000-level) units of study chosen from: ECOP2011 Economic Theories of Modern Capitalism, ECOP2012 Social Foundations of Modern Capitalism, ECOP2612 Economic Policy in Global Context.

These units build upon the issues and concepts introduced by junior units, and offer a more detailed focus on political economic theory and its utility in explaining broader capitalist economic processes. In choosing at least two out of three core units, you have the opportunity to focus upon areas of particular interest. ECOP2011 provides a more advanced examination of economic theory and its conceptual underpinnings. ECOP2012 provides more advanced conceptual tools for examining the processes by which the capitalist economy has evolved, and the ways in which the global economy is embedded in social structures, relations and institutions. ECOP2612 provides a more detailed and advanced focus upon macroeconomic theory and its relationship to processes of economic policy and regulation. Together, these core units offer students a detailed grounding in heterodox economics.

You also complete at least 6 credit points from senior-advanced (3000-level) units of study as part of your major. These units provide an opportunity to apply core knowledge in particular policy or issue areas.

The remaining credit points for your major can be taken from senior units of study listed under electives in the unit of study table. This allows you to pursue areas of particular interest and specialise in topics encountered within core units.


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.

To proceed to honours in Political Economy, students must have completed the requirements of a major in Political Economy and have an average of 70 percent or above in 48 senior credit points from Political Economy, including ECOP2911, ECOP3911, and ECOP3912.

Contact/further information

Department website:

Chair of Department: Professor Adam Morton