30L301 :History of Economic Thought

General info

Instruction language English
Type of Instruction Lecture / Tutorials (Lecture schedule)
Type of exams Written exam (Examination schedule)
Course load:6 ECTS credits
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prof. dr. H.P. van Dalen (Co├Ârdinator)

prof. dr. J.J. Graafland


After completing the course you should be able to compare the main thoughts of prominent economists in the history of economic thought. You should also be able to relate their ideas to modern economic theory and to assess their relevance to current major economic themes or problems.


This course presents an overview of the history of economic thought from Mercantilism, Classical Economics (Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill), Marxism, Neoclassical Economics (Marshall), Keynesian Economics (Keynes) and New Classical Economics (Chicago School). It offers not only a perspective on how theories have developed within economics; it also gives one an impression of how ideas have become accepted or discarded by policy makers. Indeed, as the famous quote of John Maynard Keynes goes: "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.┬┐ By studying and reading the work of the most dominant figures of the past two centuries you will see how almost every important theory or rationale for certain economic policies have their roots in economic thought in history, from Smith and Malthus, to Keynes, Friedman and Dutch economists like Tinbergen and Koopmans. Youwill also discover how paradigms have shifted over time and that lessons of the past are easily forgotten. You should be able to assess the value of ideas of economists in understanding a modern-day problem or phenomenon (by means of an essay) and present and discuss this view with a group of fellow students in class.


The grade for this course will be based on a weighted grade for three team presentations/essays and a written exam (in large part multiple choice and one or two open questions) at the end of the course. The three presentations/essays count for 30% of the total mark and the written exam for 70%. Only those who participated in the team presentations are allowed to take the final exam. One can at most participate two years in this course.

Compulsory Reading

  1. A. Sandmo, Economics Evolving - A History of Economic Thought, Princeton University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780691148427.

Recommended Prerequisites

Knowledge of the principles of economics.

Compulsory for

Recommended option for