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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Rethinking Economics and the Financial Crisis (SCPL08013)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryStudents on this course will discuss contemporary social, economic and political problems following the lasting consequences of the 2007/2008 financial crisis after engaging with a range of different ways to think about how the economy may be understood and how it interacts with society and the state. Students will engage with classic and contemporary thinkers as well as top-priority current agenda topics such as austerity, welfare reform and financial regulation. The course will be taught in a highly interactive manner and issues will be discussed in a substantive, rather than technical way. However throughout the teaching students will be equipped to engage with economic principles and analyses in a critical and informed manner useful for other courses in the social sciences and humanities. The assessment in this course will allow students to engage with both crucial aspects of the syllabus: on the one hand they will explore a range of literature that questions how we understand the role of the economy, on the other hand they will engage with the actions of and reporting on actual contemporary political actors in the recent national and international sphere.
Course description This course is available to both year 1 and year 2 students.

The financial crisis of 2007/2008 affected most countries across the world with consequences felt until the present day and with strong implications for the future. Current policy making is heavily influenced by the consequences of this crisis with certain approaches dominating the political arena. Championed by a range of politicians, media commentators and economists from many schools of thought, many of these dominants paradigms are however contentious. Not only are they critiqued by certain macro- and political economists, but also by activists, scholars from other social sciences and the humanities focussing on more than the economic mechanisms.

This course will place the current debate about the right approach to the role of the state in relation to the economy in the context of a rich history of social and economic thought. By engaging with classic thinkers, we will explore that the way we think of the economy nowadays is not the only way one could think about it and that scholars traditionally thought of as founders of economics (such as Adam Smith) actually never saw economics as particularly distinct from other forms of social analysis.

Based on this solid foundation we will embark to engage with the contemporary problems faced after the financial crisis of 2007/2008, engaging actively with the political and social implications. In doing so we will ask to what extent political parties provide genuine alternative conceptions of how to do social and economic policy and why particular assumptions about the role of private actors vis a vis the state have become considered as facts by actors on the traditional left and right, although they are very contentious.

For the course no prior knowledge of economics is assumed, as the course is not designed to teach the technicalities of economics or political economy. Students from across the social sciences with an interest in social policy, political decision making, the interplay between the economy and society and theoretical approaches to understanding these issues will find the course useful. The course would also be relevant for students with an interest in these issues from other disciplines (for example economics, history and philosophy).

At the end of the course students will be shown by staff members from different subject areas within the School of Social and Political Science how they may pursue different interests to the learning about the economy in depth through offers made during the honours years.

The course is broken down into three segments: In the first third we will engage with traditional ideas of how the relationship between the economy, the state and society can be understood. In the second part we will look at the emergence of dominant economic paradigms in the 1990s and 2000s and then finally investigate how that has shaped the way we engaged with the aftermath of the financial crisis (and how we do not consider engaging with policy and politics).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay (1500 words) - 35%
Political Actor Profile (2500 words) - 65%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Recognise the differences in approaches to conceptualising economic processes by classic theorists and appreciate how our current economic paradigms are not definitive or without alternative but based on particular intellectual developments
  2. Understand the key mechanisms behind the 2007/2008 financial crisis and critically engage with changes in public discourse and opinion
  3. Critically examine the changed deliberative space for political parties in advanced industrial/post-industrial societies and the concept of a neoliberal consensus
  4. Appreciate alternative economic policy frameworks to the status quo and communicate effectively in discussions on economic policy
  5. Understand basic terminology used in economic arguments and acknowledge advantages and limitations of discipline-specific approaches to studying economic issues
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jan Eichhorn
Tel: (0131 6)51 2921
Course secretaryMiss Grace Oliver
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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