A general outline of the history of economic thought

Ludwig List
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2022S, scientific seminar (SEW), 4.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03994


// In case of another lockdown the classes will be held via Zoom, the students will be informed with the details via mail.


Course Content


This module represents part two of the course on the history of economic thought. It tries to offer a problem-oriented introduction into the history of economic thought and its historical context from a critical, macroeconomic perspective. Apart from presenting various basic economic concepts, several goals, instruments and fundamental debates in economic theory and policy will be explained and discussed.

The focus of this course lies in

  • A critical analysis of traditional goals of economic policy
  • Possibilities of counter-cyclical policy
  • The challenges of national and international distribution policy
  • A basic overview of several different economic paradigms

Learning Outcomes

This course’s goal is to

  • Analyse todays’ problems related to Austrian, European and international economic policy
  • Create awareness of the need for more engagement with economic history and history of economic thought

After finishing the course, the students should be able to

  • Assess problems of economic policy using social and economic criteria
  • Differentiate between different points of view regarding economic theory and policy
  • Use a wider array of arguments for future debates.


While the overall content of the course (a deeper understanding of the different ways to perceive and think about the economy and the people in it) is clear, the structure of the course depends of the students. During the first session, the students can choose between three options:

a)  a topic-based approach: Here, the students will choose around three topics out of a set of possible topics. To each of these topics, a set of corresponding documents (mostly articles or book chapters) will have to be read. Each topic will take two to three sessions to discuss, with the corresponding texts being discussed over these two to three sessions.

b) a guided reading: Here, we will read one single classic economics-related book that left its mark in history. The book will be chosen during the first session and is available online.

c) a comparison of different economic schools of thought: Here, the texts to read will present several schools of thoughts and what aspects of the economy they highlight, their idea how humans and institutions work etc. The students can choose from a pool of schools suggested by the lecturer.



To prepare themselves, the students read one or several text passages or chapters of books or reports. Furthermore, they organise in groups in order to prepare mandatory literature and provide valuable inputs for the following debate. After a discussion of the presented texts, the teacher gives an introduction to the texts that the students are supposed to read during the next session.

Additionally, students are expected to hand in short reflections of the readings prior to class. These summaries need to include 2-3 questions regarding text passages that the students did not understand as well as 2-3 reflections that emerged during the reading of the texts.

At the beginning of the lecture, the lecturer introduces the students to specific topics and gives a short summary of important persons in the history of economic thought with emphasis on the respective historical context.

In general, the course design provides space for discussion with the goal of comparing different points of view in political economy. Finally, it should motivate the students to elaborate proper arguments on their own and to gain experiences in the presentation of content and their own opinions.

Students from other faculties or universities will receive a place on the course subject to room capacities.

Examination Modalities

Grades are given based on the students’ active participation as well as their presentation in groups. Participation consists of the students’ reflections (40 %), participation in class and a group presentation of one text (30% each). As an alternative, class participation points may be achieved via the submission of summaries discussing the content of the class and the texts discussed.




  • “Students from other faculties or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.”



Ludwig List: ludwig.list@uni-ak.ac.at




 A proper discussion and learning process, especially in a guided reading, needs the students to read the texts alone BEFORE class. It is not expected that the students grasp every aspects of the texts (that’s what university teachers are there for, after all). It is emphasised, however, that while it is the teacher’s duty to prepare and lecture the students, it is the student’s responsibility to come to class prepared and having read the mandatory literature.


Recommended Literature (not needed for successfully finishing the course)

Allen, R. C. (2011). Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (1 edition). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Blaug, M. (1997). Economic Theory in Retrospect (5 edition). Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hobsbawm, E. (1989). The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 (Reprint edition). New York: Vintage.

Hobsbawm, E. (1996). The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 (1st edition). New York: Vintage.

Hobsbawm, E. (2000). The Age of Capital, 1848-75. London: Orion Pub Co.

Kurz, H. D. (2017). Geschichte des ökonomischen Denkens (2nd ed.). München: C.H.Beck.

Robbins, L. (2000). A History of Economic Thought: The LSE Lectures (New Ed edition). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Key Words

history of economic thought, economic history, economics, political economy


11 March 2022, 17:15–19:45, "class will be held online (see mail)"
18 March 2022, 17:15–19:45, "class will be held online (see mail)"
25 March 2022, 17:15–19:45, "class will be held online (see mail)"
01 April 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
29 April 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
06 May 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
13 May 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
20 May 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
27 May 2022, 17:15–19:45 Conference Room 13
10 June 2022, 17:15–19:45 Seminar Room 27

Course Enrolment

From 22 February 2022, 13:48 to 18 March 2022, 23:55
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas: Study Area 3: Economics and Politics

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Economy and Politics: Deepening / Application

Individual courses: possible