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ECC3800: History of economic thought

Faculty of Business and Economics

History of economic thought

Check the Handbook for the latest unit information.


This unit covers the thought of the greatest minds in the history of the discipline of economics. Its main organising principle is the question: "what is the economic problem?" This unit organises the history of thought around two widely different answers. First, the classical economists starting with Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, and culminating with Marx, argue that the economic problem is about the production of surplus. Second, the neoclassical economists starting in 1872 with the writings of Jevons, Walras, and Menger, argue that the economic problem is about the efficient allocation of resources among competing ends. In addition, this unit covers issues related to the philosophy of science, moral theory, the limits of natural resources, social contract theory of the state, modernism, utilitarianism, evolutionary biology, and a secondary question that has been raised by Say's law and questioned by Keynes: is the market system stable?


1 - Within semester assessment - 75% 2 - Examination - 25%


Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. Independent study may include associated readings, assessment and preparation for scheduled activities. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

Sustainable development goals

Adopted by the UN Member States in 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. Read more

This unit covers content related to the following SDGs:

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth