Information in the Degree Programme Tables may still be subject to change in response to Covid-19

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Theology and Ethics

Postgraduate Course: Economy, Ecology and Ethics (THET11034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the philosophical and theological roots and the social and ecological limits of modern political economy, and ecological and ethical alternatives.
Course description Academic Description:
This course aims to investigate ethical, ecological and religious critiques of capitalism, engaging critically with classic political economy, with key moral and theological critiques of political economy, and with alternative approaches to economic and political organisation. The course is based on readings of classic and contemporary texts in political economy and theological and environmental ethics on the subjects of debt, money, wealth, justice, virtue, human flourishing, and ecological sustainability. The context for the course is the growing interaction between the humanities and economics since the global financial crisis, the conflict between exponential growth in economic activities and the health of the planet, and the growing moral and religious critique of the current trajectories of global capitalism towards increased private debt, inequality and social exclusion combined with excessive wealth accumulation by large private corporations and wealthy individuals.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The course is organised around key themes, both historical and conceptual, in the interdisciplinary study of economy, ethics and ecology including the gift and archaic exchange, the origins of the market economy, the philosophy of economic liberalism, the Marxist and romantic critiques of modern political economy, ethical and theological accounts of the nature of persons, and ecological and ethical alternatives to mainstream capitalism including distributism, ecological economics and fair trade. Texts to be studied in the course are by key shapers and critics of modern political economy including Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Ruskin, Karl Polanyi, Hilaire Belloc, R. H. Tawney, F. Schumacher, Herman Daly and John Milbank.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course is taught through the following: private study of set extracts of primary texts; on line blogging on weekly set texts at the course web site on Learn; weekly one hour tutorial group discussion of set texts; weekly one hour lectures on set texts; essay writing on set texts and themes arising from them. Students will write a mid-semester essay and a longer final paper due towards the end of the exam period. For the purposes of blog discussion of texts, and face to face discussion of texts, the class will be divided into groups of around 12. Students wanting to be challenged and stimulated by a fascinating interdisciplinary course that some past students have described as 'the best course I took at Edinburgh University' are warmly invited to take this course. But in turn the course manager expects students to devote one third (11 hours) of their available degree study hours (35) per week to this course. Reading and writing tasks for this course will require commitment and hard work but the rewards in new understanding and learning will be commensurately high.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical conceptual understanding of the roots of the separation of political economy from ethics and ecology
  2. Articulate and critically compare ethical and ecological critiques of political economy.
  3. Describe and evaluate alternative approaches to human economic exchange than those of the dominant model of political economy.
  4. Identify and explain key terms and their meanings in political economy and ecological and ethical approaches to it.
  5. Exercise good judgement on the relative importance of items on course bibliographies.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Michael Northcott
Tel: (0131 6)50 8947
Course secretaryMs Roisin O'Fee
Tel: (0131 6)50 8921
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information