Core economics modules
Careers and Employability for Economists
This module aims to provide a means for enabling students to reflect on their personal development and the implications this might have for their future career paths. It will include:
- guidance on recording and evaluating skills
- guidance on careers from the Careers and Employability Service
- information, guidance and advice form a range of graduate employers and alumni
Foundations of Macroeconomics: Growth, Cycles and Policy
This is a single semester introductory course in macroeconomics; there is no assumption of any prior knowledge of economics. Macroeconomics is the study of the aggregate economy. This module will focus on the determinants of aggregate output, both in the short run - addressing cyclical movements of booms and busts - and in the long run - providing an introduction to economic growth.
A running theme will be debates over the role of the government in macroeconomic management, covering fiscal and monetary policy. The module will introduce a series of basic models used in modern macroeconomics.
Foundations of Microeconomics: Choice, Markets and Welfare
This is a single semester introductory module in microeconomics; there is no assumption of any prior knowledge of economics. It begins by analysing how the economic choices of households and firms can be understood using consumer and producer theory. It then looks at how these individual choices are aggregated into market demand and supply to be mediated through the price mechanism.
A variety of market settings are considered, ranging from the paradigm of perfect competition to strategic interactions in oligopolistic markets. The module concludes by providing an introduction to the normative evaluation of economic outcomes in terms of individuals' welfare, covering both market and government failures.
This module aims to introduce you to the essential skills required for writing as an economist. It will be delivered in conjunction with Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR), who will cover content on key information skills relating to the library and learning resources.
It will give an introduction to the language of economics and basic research skills and how to write essays and exams. Among the topics covered will be academic integrity and plagiarism; time management; writing essays; writing quantitative projects; presentation skills; referencing and using the internet; revision and examinations.
Mathematical Economics and Econometrics
This module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on linear algebra, optimisation and their role in formulating and solving economic problems.
This module covers the following:
- Introduction to mathematical economics: mathematical finance
- Analysis of functions
- Supply and demand
- Matrix algebra
- Optimisation subject to constraints
- Lagrange multipliers
Plus at least one of:
Current Economic Issues II
This module focuses on a range of current issues facing the world economy, seeks to illustrate how economists model such issues, and examines potential policy responses. Example topics to be covered are:
- Economic growth
- The global financial crisis
- The world economy
- Emerging economic superpowers
- Consequences of rising economic nationalism
This module is intended as a foundation for the understanding of modern economic theories and policies. It is concerned with the:
- different characters and workings of economies of the past
- changing ways in which economic questions have been interpreted and answered over time
As will be discovered, the 21st century Western views of everyday economic concepts such as ownership, money, exchange, work, poverty, industrialisation, economic growth and government are quite different from those expressed at other times and in other places.
Growth and Development in Long-Run Historical Perspective
In this module we will explore the long-run, historical determinants of the wealth of nations. We will begin by taking a long-run view on modern economic growth, showing how this has led to dramatic changes in the relative wealth of nations over the last 500 years.
We will then ask two key questions: why have modern economic growth started in some places rather than others? And while have some countries been able to catch up, while others have not? These investigations will improve our understanding of why are some countries much richer than others, and will give us some important insights on how to promote sustained growth in developing countries.
The module draws on a vibrant new literature in economics that looks at comparative development as the outcome of a long historical process, and uses techniques originally developed in economics to improve our understanding of history. Without going into the technical details, the module reviews the main findings of this literature, discusses their implications for modern development experiences, and lays out the main challenges for future research.
By providing an historical perspective on growth and development, the module will endow you with a better understanding ofcontemporary economic issues. It will also give you some exciting examples of how the economic techniques you will learn in later modules can be used to understand the world better.
Core philosophy modules
Appearance and Reality
This module involves an examination of some of the central themes in modern philosophy that are found in the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. The two basic questions we will look at are:
- What is the world really like?
- How do we know about the world around us?
Topics covered include:
- empiricism and science
- knowledge, justification and skepticism
- primary vs secondary qualities
- the nature of objects
- substance and essence
This module provides an introduction to modern logic. The module is intended to supply that basic minimum knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary which every philosophy student requires in order to understand a lot of modern philosophical writing.
We introduce the symbolism of modern logic, practice translation between that symbolism and English and discuss in an introductory way the theory of the structure of thought implicit in the symbolism.
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems (for example, the justification of punishment).
The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems.
The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry (such as relativism, egoism and emotivism).
Reasoning and Argument: Introduction to Philosophical Method
This module introduces a series of key skills relevant to the aims and methods of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to help you understand the nature and structure of arguments, acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others, and improve your ability to present your own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner.
The module also aims to assist the development of an independent, reflective and self-managed approach to study, and to familiarise you with the abilities and competences that are expected to be developed during your degree.
Self, Mind and Body
The module introduces you to several central issues in the philosophy of self, mind and body. These issues are of great importance in the history of philosophy, and they continue to attract significant contemporary philosophical attention.
We will examine Descartes' foundational contributions in his Meditations, with particular attention to his discussions of dualism and mind-body interaction. We will also study several related topics, including contemporary theories of mind.
Core economics modules
Principles of Macroeconomics
The modules covers intermediate macroeconomics covering simple macro-models of goods, labour and money markets, such as IS-LM and aggregate supply/aggregate demand, including open economy extensions. Dynamic issues incorporating expectations and long run growth will also be considered. The module will analyse policy questions surrounding exchange rates, monetary and fiscal policy, budget deficits and debt.
Principles of Microeconomics
This module covers microeconomics including general equilibrium analysis, welfare economics, social choice, elementary game theory, and strategic behaviour of different actors such firms, voters and governments.
Optional philosophy modules
Being, Becoming and Reality
We look at some fundamental metaphysical questions about the cosmos. A selection of the following topics will be studied:
- Objects: concrete vs. abstract; existence and nothingness
- Sets and mereology
- Properties, Property bearers, Relations
- States of affairs and non-mereological composition
- Modality (including counterfactuals) and possible worlds
- Time, persistence, change, and the non-present
Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics
Are there moral facts? What is moral truth? Do psychopaths really understand moral language? These are just some of the questions we'll be asking on this module.
Metaethics isn't anything like normative or applied ethics; rather it is about asking how ethics works. This means we'll be thinking about, amongst other things, moral ontology, moral language, moral psychology andmoral reasons.
Freedom and Obligation
This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. Thus the module combines a thinker-based approach to studying political philosophy with a topic-based approach.
The thinkers and indicative themes to be studied are as follows (note that precise themes may vary from year to year):
- Machiavelli - The relationship between moral and political philosophy
- Hobbes - Rationality and sovereignty
- Locke - Rights, property, and rebellion
- Rousseau - Authenticity, democracy, and progress
- J.S.Mill - Freedom, representative government, and utility
History of Philosophy
The module involves the study of one or more texts by one or more influential pre-21st century philosophers. The module will proceed via a close reading of the texts set and also draw on additional material by scholars, background material, and influential responses.
Possible subjects are some of the writings of, for example, Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume. Please note: the module is not a survey of the history of philosophy, and it may focus on the writings of only one philosopher in any given year that it runs.
Knowledge and Justification
This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as:
- the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence (foundationalism vs. coherentism; internalism vs.externalism; evidentialism)
- the justification of induction
- the notion of a priori justification
- the relation between your evidence and what you know
- the natures of perceptual experience and perceptual knowledge
- safety and contextualist theories of knowledge
- Moore's response to skepticism
- testimonial knowledge, "virtue" epistemology and its relation to "reliabilist" epistemology
Mind and Consciousness
This module aims to introduce you to some of the major issues within contemporary philosophy of mind. We will examine four topics and the interactions between them:
- Mental causation
- The status of physicalism
The Nature of Meaning
The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell (including the theory of descriptions), and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences.
In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as 'I', 'now', and 'here'. Some of the skills acquired in Elementary Logic will be applied in this module.
Normative ethics is the branch of moral philosophy that attempts to systematise everyday judgements about the rightness and wrongness of actions. In everyday life we commonly form opinions about such things as whether euthanasia should be legalised, or how we should balance the competing goals of fighting terrorism and protecting individual liberties, for example.
Are these judgements on diverse topics logically disconnected, or should they conform to some common structure or pattern? The focus of this module is on the three main attempts to systematise them that have been made by moral philosophers.
The first, consequentialism, holds that the rightness or wrongness of actions is wholly determined by their goodness. The second, deontology, holds that there are moral constraints on acting such that it can sometimes be wrong to act in a way that brings about the best results. The third, virtue ethics, emphasises the relationship between right action and good and bad character.
Philosophy of Art
This module is a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art.
Topics will include: definitions of art, the objectivity versus the subjectivity of aesthetic evaluations, emotional response to art, the ontological status of artworks, and Walton's theory of make-believe.
This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current views on the status of aesthetic evaluations, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks.
This module will address some key issues in social philosophy, or key ideas from thinkers in social philosophy. Indicative topics that might be covered include:
- philosophy of gender
- philosophy of race
- philosophy of disability
- philosophy of relationships and friendship
- slavery and abolition
- social and psychological oppression
- the political thought of Hannah Arendt
Optional economics modules
This module is a general introduction to the economic problems of developing countries. The module will cover such topics as:
- the implications of history and expectation
- poverty, income distribution and growth
- fertility and population
- employment, migration and urbanisation
- markets in agriculture
- agricultural household models
- risk and insurance
Environmental and Resource Economics
This modules will look at the following:
- Principles of environmental policy: efficiency and sustainability
- Market failure and the need for environmental policy: the Coase theorem
- Instruments of environmental policy: efficiency advantages of market instruments; applications of market instruments, especially the EU Emission Trading Scheme
- Valuation of the benefits of environmental policy
- Biodiversity and its benefits
- International trade in polluting goods
- Mobile capital: race to the bottom?
Experimental and Behavioural Economics
This module provides a foundation in behavioural economics and the role of experimental methods in economics. The traditional approach in economics is to explain market outcomes and economic decision-making using simple theoretical models based on perfectly rational, self-interested agents who maximise their well-being by carefully weighing up the costs and benefits of different alternatives. Behavioural economics, on the other hand, aspires to relax these stringent assumptions and develop an understanding of how real people actually make decisions.
The module will introduce you to behavioural and experimental economics, discuss these fields from a methodological perspective and examine several areas of economic analysis in which they are applied. This will include individual choice under risk and uncertainty, decision-making in strategic situations and competition in markets.
This module will begin by introducing some theoretical concepts related to the functioning of financial markets. Then it will apply these concepts in three main areas; namely consumer finance, corporate finance and financial intermediation.
This module provides an economic analysis of the theory and practice of organisation of firms and industries. It explores the nature of competition among firms and their behaviour in various markets, with the specific emphasis on imperfectly competitive markets. Tools for both empirical and theoretical approaches to the analysis of industries are covered.
Starting from a detailed analysis of market structures, the module goes on to discuss various aspects of firms' behaviour and their influence on market outcome. Among the behaviours covered in the module are price discrimination, vertical integration, advertising, research and development activities and entry and exit of firms. Government regulation of industries is also discussed.
This module is an introduction to international trade theory and policy. It covers the core trade theories under perfect and imperfect competition and applies them to understanding the pattern of trade, gains from trade and modern topics like foreign outsourcing. On the policy side, it examines the effects of different government trade policy instruments and the role of international trade agreements.
Introduction to Political Economy
This module is concerned with the effect of political and institutional factors on economic variables as well as with the study of politics using the techniques of economics.
This module provides an introduction to the economics of the labour market. We will look at some basic theories of how labour markets work and examine evidence to see how well these theories explain the facts.
Particular attention will be given to the relationship between the theory, empirical evidence and government policy. The module will refer especially to the UK labour market, but reference will also be made to other developed economies.
This course will provide a foundation for the monetary economics modules in the third year and is a complement to financial economics for the second and third years. It will cover topics such as the definitions and role of money, portfolio choice, financial markets and banks, central banks and monetary policy, and the monetary transmission mechanism.
Under these headings the module will address issues of theory, policy and practice relating to recent experience in the UK and other countries. The module will feature some current debates and controversies based on recent events.
Public Sector Economics
This module looks at:
- public finances in the uk
- market failures
- fundamental theorems of welfare economics
- social welfare functions
- public goods
- natural monopolies
- public choice
- social insurance: social security, taxation and equity
- excess burden of taxation and tax incidence
Optional philosophy modules
This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will look at logics of possibility and necessity, time, and knowledge, as well as alternative logics, including 'anti-realist' logic and fuzzy logic.
We will apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics including vagueness, the liar paradox and anti-realism. We will also investigate basic set theory, infinity and the limits of formal logic, including soundness, completeness and decidability proofs.
The module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions, in particular, the origin and nature of suffering, the no-self thesis, enlightenment, consciousness, experiential knowing, and the doctrine of Emptiness (lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence).
The module will focus particularly on Nâgârjuna's philosophy of the 'middle way' and some modern commentaries on it. The module will approach Buddhism as a philosophical world-view, rather than as a religious one. The module will not be involved in detailed exegesis of ancient texts. When possible the module will try to link Buddhist conceptions to contemporary ideas about personhood, consciousness and the fundamental nature of reality.
This module will teach you how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing you in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations).
A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the University, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.
A dissertation of 8,000-words on a philosophical topic approved by the Module Convenor. The supervisor is not permitted to read and comment more than once on one draft of 8,000 words.
Free Will and Action
This module involves the study of a set of related issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. Questions to be discussed include the following:
- What would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of 'free will') in a sense that would make it an action for which we are morally responsible?
- Is there is any way in which our actions could be free in the relevant sense, whether or not determinism is true?
- How do actions differ from bodily movements that are not actions?
- Actions are typically (perhaps always) done for reasons, but what exactly is the relation between the reasons and the actions?
- Do the reasons cause the corresponding actions - and if they do, can this be the same kind of causation as is involved in ordinary 'mechanistic' causal explanation? And what about the fact that at least some of our actions seem to have purely physical causes? If they do, doesn't this make any 'mental causes' of those actions redundant?
- What is the connection between intentional or voluntary action and rational action? In particular, it seems that we sometimes intentionally and voluntarily do things that we ourselves regard as irrational - but how is such 'weakness of will' possible?
You will be introduced to the thought of Karl Marx thematically via texts selected from the Marx canon. Marxian themes considered will include: Alienation, The Materialist Conception of History, Ideology and The Labour Theory of Value.
Gaining an overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics will be an important objective for the course.
If you and another person had your brains swapped, would you have swapped bodies? Or should we say that you still exist in your old body, only now your memories, beliefs, personality traits, etc are different? Would you survive teleportation? What if teleporting worked by recording your body state, destroying your body, and then creating a copy of it elsewhere? Would this copy be morally responsible for your crimes? What if the teleporter created two copies?
These puzzles raise the issue of what your continued existence consists of - are you essentially a brain, a soul, a body, a set of mental states, or something else? This is the issue we will examine in this course. We will also examine the moral implications of personal identity.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. The criminal law raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as these:
- Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation?
- What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why?
- What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible?
- What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
- Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment?
- How should the criminal law function in the international context?
Readings will include seminal works by historical figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, as well as prominent work by more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in criminal law.
Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism
What is science? Is there a scientific method, and if so, what is it? Can science tell us what the world is really like? Is it the only way to know what the world is really like? Does science progress? What is a "paradigm" and when/how does it "shif"”? Is science "socially constructed"? Can a sociological study of the practice of science tell us anything about the nature of science? Is science "value-neutral"? Should we "save society from science"? What are "the science wars" and who won?
These are some of the questions we will explore in this module. We will start with the positivism-empiricism of the early 20th century and culminate with the postmodernism-relativism of the late 20th century and its aftermath. Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan.
While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in science. More technical/formal reading materials will be made available to those who are interested, but such readings will not be compulsory for this module.
Taking Utilitarianism Seriously
This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:
- The nature of wellbeing
- Reasons and rightness
- Rights and justice
- Individual decision-making
- Praise and blame
Optional economics modules
Modules covering advanced topics such as:
This module adopts a broad focus on factors influencing growth and development. Topics covered include macroeconomic policies, aid, debt, trade; growth experiences in East Asia, China and Africa.
This module generalises and builds upon the econometric techniques applied to the multivariate linear regression model covered in the year two module, Econometrics I. This will involve introducing a number of new statistical and econometric concepts.
In particular we study large sample, or asymptotic, theory. This is needed in order to obtain tractable results about the behaviour of estimators when the standard modelling assumptions - which frequently cannot be verified in practice - are relaxed.
Experimental and Behavioural Economics
This module provides a window on three important sub-areas of experimental and behavioural economics. The first focuses on design issues and individual decision-making, the next two sections focus on applications to the study of strategic behaviour and market behaviour.
You do not need to have studied experimental or behavioural economics before because all topics will be introduced at a level that will be accessible to the newcomer. The module is, nevertheless, suitable as a sequel to the year two module Experimental and Behavioural Economics because the contents of the two modules cover distinct, but complementary, topics.
The module covers the following:
- Saving, focusing on how agents make intertemporal decisions about their savings and wealth accumulation
- Saving puzzles and household portfolios, focusing on credit markets and credit markets imperfections, and why do households hold different kinds of assets
- Asset allocation and asset pricing, focusing on intertemporal portfolio selection, asset pricing and the equity premium puzzle
- The role of behavioural finance in explaining stock market puzzles
International Trade Theory
The module covers:
- models of intra-industry trade
- trade policy in oligopolistic industries
- mathematical enterprises
- testing trade theories
- the WTO and "new issues"
The module covers an economic analysis of the labour market, with an emphasis on policy implications and institutional arrangements.
This module covers the following:
- Dynamic general equilibrium models, focusing on how the time path of consumption, and saving, is determined by optimising agents and firms that interact on competitive markets
- Growth in dynamic general equilibrium, focusing on the Solow model and the data, and the role played by accumulation of knowledge (endogenous innovation) in explaining long run growth
- Real Business Cycles (RBC), focusing on how the RBC approach account for business cycle fluctuations, and what links short run fluctuations and growth processes
The module is intended to provide an introduction to mathematical techniques used in economics. In particular, examples of economic issues that can be analysed using mathematical models will be discussed in detail.
Particular attention will be given to providing an intuitive understanding of the logic behind the formal results presented. Students who wish to pursue a higher degree in economics will find the module particularly useful.
The module will cover topics in advanced microeconomics and decision theory. The precise content may vary from year to year, but the module will start from the basis established by the Microeconomic Theory module.
This module will provide an outline of the elements of monetary theory and of theoretical policy issues.
The module will introduce some major themes of public economics, using microeconomic tools to analyse public policy. The equity and efficiency implications of policies will be examined within an economic framework.
Time Series Econometrics
This module is a continuation of the module on time series analysis taken in the second semester of the second year. While the earlier module was devoted to basic time series model building methodology, applicable over a broad range of disciplines, the present module concentrates on those developments which can be applied in the subject of economics.
In particular, the emphasis will be on aspects of the behaviour of typical economic time series, and the implications of that behaviour in practical analysis, such as the construction of models linking economic time series.
The key issues addressed will be the identification of non-stationarity through the construction of formal tests and the implications for modelling with non-stationary data. Particular attention will be paid to the contributions of Sir Clive Granger to the spurious regression problem and to cointegration analysis, for which he was ultimately awarded the Nobel Prize.
This module provides an advanced economic analysis of the theory of organisation of firms and industries. It will analyse a variety of market structures related to the degree of market competition with a special emphasis on imperfectly competitive markets. It will also analyse issues related to the internal organisation of firms.
International Money and Macroeconomy
This module will provide an introduction to international monetary issues, including the determination of exchange rates, the functioning of the international monetary system, and international macroeconomic policy co-ordination.
International Trade Policy
This module looks at:
- trade policy: theory and evidence
- trade policy and imperfect competition
- trade and distortions
- the political economy of protection
- trade policy reform
This module covers the following:
Static numerical methods
- Numerical solution methods
- Numerical static optimisation methods
- Applications: resource allocation, computable general equilibrium
Dynamic numerical optimisation
- Discrete dynamic programming
- Implementation of the methods
- Applications: optimal growth, rational expectations, asset management
Agent-based economic modelling
- Foundations of agent-based modelling
- Basics of computer programming
- Applications: evolutionary games, markets
The module will cover the following:
- The rational political individual?
- Voter participation
- Collective action and the role of the state
Core Political Economy
- The economic approach to politics
- Political aspects of economics: rights and the limits of the state
- Political aspects of economics: inequality and the duties of the state
Political Economy in Action
- Political economy in action: some current issues in applied political economy
Topics in Econometrics
This module focuses on a range of econometric methods used in policy evaluation and in the identification and estimation of causal effects. Topics to be covered include:
- potential outcomes framework
- regression analysis and matching
- instrumental variables
- regression discontinuity
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.