Political Economy

About the major

Political Economy focuses on the relationship between the economy, society and political interests. It deals with important global and social challenges and asks what role can economic policy play in ensuring prosperity, equality and sustainability?

The discipline centres on the proposition that the study of economics must reach beyond technical debates to include an understanding of the economy in its historical, institutional, social and cultural context. Understanding the modern economy requires study of the broad questions that deal with the dynamics of globalisation and the implications for national economic policy settings; economic instability, uneven development and inequality; trade-offs between free markets and universal health, education and social services; the financialisation of everyday life and insecurity, economic growth and ecological sustainability.

Key research and teaching areas include:

  • Global political economy
  • International finance and trade
  • Economic development and well-being
  • The distribution of income and wealth
  • The political economy of human rights
  • Finance, business cycles, neoliberalism
  • Environmental economics
  • Gender and labour in the global economy

Studying political economy will develop the skills you require to analyse a range of economic issues of contemporary public concern, including their social and political aspects.

Requirements for completion

A major in Political Economy requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv)18 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000 level Interdisciplinary Project units

A minor in Political Economy requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

First year

The first year of study in political economy provides students with foundational knowledge and orientation on how to think like a political economist. First year units focus on building student understanding of how society, politics and the economy are related to and inform one another. In ECOP1001 students will be introduced to different schools of economic thought, their historical context and the way theory shapes the kinds of questions we ask about the economy and where we look for answers. ECOP1003 covers the key dynamics of the international economy, finance and trade that shape the global economy and well-being. The first year material provides students with a basic foundation upon which they will enhance and refine their understanding of political economy in the second and third years of study.

Second year

In the second year of study students have the opportunity to make their own choices about the intellectual direction they would like to pursue.

Students choose from three core units each with their own focus – economic theory, economic institutions or economic policy. Some students may use their core unit to set a theme for their continuing studies in the department, supplementing it through the selection of their additional 2000-level unit. Others might like to try units that focus on different topics or methods in political economy.

Both pathways will allow students to develop a deeper understanding of political economy and be ready for the third year of study.

Third year

The third year will look different for students completing a major and those completing a minor in political economy. Students majoring in political economy will select three 3000-level units in addition to the compulsory interdisciplinary project. Students completing the minor in political economy can take any two 3000-level units.

In the third year all students choose from a variety of units eg. neoliberalism, gender, environmental economics, money, finance and business, well-being and human rights. For students completing a major in political economy there is an opportunity to specialise in units that focus on specific areas of political economy. Each 3000-level unit of study requires students to draw on the foundational skills learned in the first two years of study to develop complex and sophisticated political economy analysis in their unit areas.

Honours

If you commenced your degree prior to 2018, admission to honours requires a major in Political Economy with an average of 70% or above.

If you commenced your degree in 2018, admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Political Economy with an average of 70% or above. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing honours.

The honours degree in Political Economy is the premier undergraduate degree offered by the Department. This degree offers high performing students with a major in Political Economy the opportunity to develop superior research, writing and communication skills. This one year program is made up of two advanced level seminar courses and the preparation of a 20,000 word honours thesis on a topic of the student’s choice. The honours thesis is a self-directed research project that is completed under the supervision of a member of the Department. Students are welcome to pursue honours theses that focus on questions of economic theory, policy or method.

The honours program is challenging and will suit high performing students with a strong interest in research. The program provides a straightforward pathway into postgraduate study. Honours graduates in political economy are sought out by employers who value the superior research and writing skills they develop in the preparation of their honours thesis.

Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in Political Economy provides students with a major in Political Economy the opportunity to develop high level research, writing and communication skills through advanced level coursework. The B Advanced Studies in political economy is a one year program that locates advanced study in political economy within an interdisciplinary program. It will enhance your understanding of important dynamics in political economy such as economic growth, labour markets, finance, the welfare state, regulation and public policy. Completion of the Advanced Studies degree will open up new career options, supplementing knowledge developed in your undergraduate major and adding significant value.

The degree requires you to complete a 12 credit-point major project, and two of four 6 credit-point advanced coursework units in political economy. The project unit lies at the centre of the advanced studies program and is designed to give you an opportunity to engage with policy-relevant and industry-specific issues as they occur in real world environments. This contextualized project-based learning unit will extend your critical thinking and writing skills and develop an applied understanding of how theoretical concepts you engage in the classroom shape real world problems and solutions. The project unit is supported by four advanced coursework units in political economy that focus on research methods, theory in political economy, policy analysis and theories of the state. You may complement your project and advanced coursework units in political economy with two electives.

Contact/further information

Dr Elizabeth Hill
Chair, Department of Political Economy

Example pathways

Sample pathway for honours in Political Economy within the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies.

Note: Students are free to complete their majors and selectives from the subject areas available in Table A or S.
* OLE units are indicative only. A comprehensive list of OLE units may be selected from Table O.

Sample pathway

First year

S1

Political Economy major: ECOP 1001:  Economics as a Social Science

Elective

Elective: Introduction to Sociology 1

Second major

S2

Political Economy major: ECOP 1003: International Economy and Finance

Elective

Elective:Introduction to Sociology 2

Second major

Second year

S1

Political Economy major: Either ECOP 2011; 2012 OR ECOP 2612

Elective

OLE*

OLE*

OLE*

Second major

S2

Any other 2000 level ECOP unit

Elective

OLE*

OLE*

OLE*

Second major

Third year

S1

3000 level Interdisciplinary Project unit

ECOP 3000 selective unit

Second major

Second major

S2

ECOP 3000 selective unit

ECOP 3000 selective unit

Second major

Second major

Fourth year

S1

Political Economy honours: Advanced Theory in Political Economy

Political Economy honours: Advanced Research in Political Economy

Political Economy honours: Political Economy Honours Thesis 1

S2

Political Economy honours: Political Economy Honours Thesis 2

 

Learning outcomes
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the core concepts, methodological approaches, analytical tools and historical origins of the principle schools of economic thought.
  2. Apply and adapt major theoretical principles and approaches to analyse contemporary political economic issues.
  3. Demonstrate an awareness of the influence of theoretical frameworks on the use of quantitative and qualitative research methodology, and the nature and appropriate uses of both.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to identify appropriate approaches to contemporary political economic issues.
  5. Analyse contemporary economic issues of public importance, including their social and political aspects.
  6. Demonstrate skills in critical analysis, information gathering, communication, and presentation. 7 Demonstrate an understanding of how political economic and social elements shape economic and ocial order.
  7. Effectively apply political economic approaches in an interdisciplinary context.