Economic Controversies - EC538

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
5 15 (7.5) DR W Collier


EC304 Principles of Economics (or equivalent)
EC305/EC306 Mathematics for Economics Mode A or B
EC309 Statistics for Economics (or equivalent)





This module introduces students to the skills of economic reasoning and argument by exposing them to critical debates within the discipline. It is designed for students who have completed Stage 1 Economics.

The module draws on current and past controversies to give students a critical insight into theoretical and empirical differences of opinion and approach to economics in the real world. The curriculum provides an insight into the academic and professional development of the discipline, and provides opportunities to develop a range of highly transferable skills. It also lays the foundations to many of the skills required for modules taught at Stage 3.

Four controversies will be covered each drawn from a range of topics pertinent to the discipline and relevant sub-disciplines. Students must study two controversies.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

2 Skills workshops
2 Controversies Workshops (2 hours)
2 Tutorials


This module is an elective for all Single and Joint honours programmes in Economics.
This module is not available to students across other degree programmes in the University.

Method of assessment

Non-Technical Summary 1 (1000 words) (20%)
Non-Technical Summary 2 (1000 words) (20%)
Extended Essay (4000 words) (60%)

Indicative reading

• M Blaug (2009), Economic Theory in Retrospect, 5th edition, CUP
• M Blaug (1992), The Methodology of Economics or How Economists Explain, CUP

The following journals will be used where relevant surveys of the literature for each topic are identifiable:

• Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association
• Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association
• Journal of Economic Surveys, John Wiley and Sons
• Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press
• Economic Policy, Oxford University Press
• Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Other journal articles, book chapters and research publications (NIESR, IPPR, IEA, pamphlets) are included in the assigned readings and/or referenced in plenary lectures. In each instance, students should be able to obtain the readings freely using available electronic resources.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you will be able to:

* identify and apply economic concepts, models and theory to the real world.
* abstract the essential features of an economic issue, problem and system.
* assimilate, understand and critically evaluate an economic issue in depth.
* synthesise and critically compare different economic analyses of an economic issue.
* demonstrate the analytical skills required to formulate and consider a range of economic problems and issues.
* construct coheret economic arguments by making references to relevant theories and empirical evidence.

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