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EC228: Political Economy: Theory and Applications

  • Kirill Pogorelskiy

    Module Leader
15 CATS - Department of Economics
Summer Module
Autumn Module

Principal Aims

This module develops mathematical models of collective decision making that form the standard corpus of modern political economy frameworks and applies them to study the rational behaviour of voters, politicians, and government officials.

The module first introduces the students to the theory of social choice, analysing various ways of aggregating individual preferences into a coherent collective decision, and demonstrates the fundamental trade-offs any democratic mechanism faces. Next, game-theoretic models of political competition in elections are covered in details. The module then moves on to analyse how a group can aggregate information better (or worse) than each of its members and the problems of coordination and free-riding in competing groups of political agents. Overall, this module provides the formal basis for positive and normative analysis of many political institutions.

Principal Learning Outcomes

Subject Knowledge and Understanding :...demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: Political economy: the decision-making behaviour of voters, politicians and government officials from the perspective of economic theory. The teaching and learning methods that enable students to achieve this and all other learning outcome are: Lectures, seminars, problem sets, and background reading. The summative assessment methods that measure the achievement of this and other learning outcomes are: Midterm and Final Examination.

Cognitive skills:...demonstrate capacity of: Abstraction and Problem solving. Applying critical analysis to the topics of the module, formulating concepts and hypotheses, and showing how they are tested in relevant literature.

Cognitive skills:...demonstrate capacity of: Critical, creative and strategic thinking.

Key Skills:...demonstrate proficiency in study and research skills such as: reviewing the relevant literature and evidence.

Key Skills:...demonstrate proficiency in study and research skills such as: communicating their knowledge and understanding to others, verbally and in writing.

Key Skills:...demonstrate proficiency in study and research skills such as: data skills: Use of library and internet as information sources. Knowledge of how to locate relevant data, extract appropriate data, analysis and present material.

Key Skills:...demonstrate proficiency in study and research skills such as: mathematical/statistical skills: use/application of mathematics and diagrams in economic analysis; understanding of statistical analysis of data.


The module will typically cover some of the following topics:

Voting as preference aggregation;

The social choice approach.

Voting rules: unanimity, simple majority.

Problems of majority voting: cycling, Arrow’s impossibility theorem.

Restrictions on preference profiles.

The single crossing property.

Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem, strategy-proofness.

Voting with more than two alternatives: majoritarian methods, Condorcet extensions, and positional methods.

The spatial model of elections.

Majority rule core, global cycling, McKelvey’s chaos theorem.

Game theoretic approaches; two-party competition, median voter theorem.

Public choice in a representative democracy; voting over redistribution.

Voting with incomplete information; Condorcet Jury theorem.

Public goods and collective action; paradox of voting.

Agenda manipulation.

Bargaining in legislatures.


Optional Module
GL11 - Year 3, GL12 - Year 4, L1P5 - Year 1, L1PA - Year 1, LM1D (LLD2) - Year 2, V7ML - Year 2, V7ML - Year 3, V7MP - Year 2, V7MP - Year 3, V7MR - Year 2, V7MR - Year 3, V7MM - Year 4, LA99 - Year 2, LA99 - Year 3, R9L1 - Year 4, R3L4 - Year 4, R4L1 - Year 4, R2L4 - Year 4, R1L4 - Year 4
Pre or Co-requisites

Any of:

EC106-24 Introduction to Economics OR

EC107-30 Economics 1 OR

EC109-30 Microeconomics 1 OR

EC131-15 Economics for Business OR

EC121-12 Mathematical Techniques A OR

EC123-12 Mathematical Techniques B


Modules: EC106-24 or EC107-30 or EC109-30 or EC131-15 or EC121-12 or EC123-12


Assessment Method
Coursework (20%) + Online Examination (80%)
Coursework Details
Midterm Examination (20%) , Online Examination (80%)
Exam Timing

Exam Rubric

Time Allowed: 2 Hours

Read all instructions carefully- and read through the entire paper at least once before you start entering your answers.

There are TWO Sections in this paper. Answer ONE question in Section A (40 marks) and ONE question in Section B (60 marks).

Approved pocket calculators are allowed.

You should not submit answers to more than the required number of questions. If you do, we will mark the questions in the order that they appear, up to the required number of questions in each section.

Previous exam papers can be found in the University’s past papers archive. Please note that previous exam papers may not have operated under the same exam rubric or assessment weightings as those for the current academic year. The content of past papers may also be different.

Reading Lists