Positive political economy (international edition)

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Content and language integrated learning - CLIL

Aims and scope: 

This course introduces economics to students completely new to the subject. The conversational yet precise style of this course is an excellent way of presenting the science of economics to tomorrow's decision makers. The course is designed to provide students with a sound conceptual understanding of the subject using contemporary examples where possible. It stands out amongst all other introductory economics courses by stressing the importance of economic conflicts and by encouraging students to apply an economic way of thinking to their analysis of government policies. The course covers the most important topics in positive political economy while reflecting European economic structures and institutions and adapting the language and cultural references to a European audience. For instance, the euro is the basic currency referred to throughout the course, and case studies and examples largely refer to the European economy and EU policies. These features are apparent when dealing with the EU's common agricultural policy, external trade policy, competition policy, VAT, the euro and ECB monetary policy. By the end of the course, students should be able to understand the market effects of government policies such as a the establishment of a minimum price, a price ceiling, a quota, or a subsidy; the effects of taxation and the design of optimal tax systems, market failure (monopoly, externatilies, public goods) and ways to deal with it, macroeconomic data, economic growth, monetary policy, and fiscal policy. They should also be acquainted with the political conflicts related to economic policy and economic explanations of policy making.


This is an international co-operative course that brings together teachers and students from different partner institutions of the EUROSCI Network around the world. The course is based on synchronous lectures and webinars and asynchronous online written discussions. The dates and times of live meetings are carefully selected with time-zone differences in mind in order to facilitate student attendance. A sophisticated continuous evaluation system measures the quantity and quality of student participation and influence on their colleagues. Selected institutions and teachers agree to recognise credit for their participating students and co-sign a final certificate.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is an approach for learning content through an additional language (foreign or second), thus learning both the subject and the language simultaneously. This approach to teaching and learning has never featured as strongly on university curricula as it does now. Besides, the great revolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has had a tremendous impact on education and on the development of foreign language communication skills in particular. ICT is an ideal platform for developing interactive strategies and methodologies that promote independent learning, peer interaction, and language use for real communicative purposes. In a world where students are digital natives and where broadband connections and mobile-data enabled smartphones are widespread, there is great potential for combining CLIL with ICT. If we add to this the opportunities that international university partnerships and networks offer for student interaction across borders, we have all the necessary ingredients for a successful course.


1. Three principles of political economy. Thinking like an economist. Introduction to the scientific method. Economics, economic policy and public choice. 2. Supply and demand. The market equilibrium. Elasticity and its applications. Can a good harvest be bad for farmers? 3. Supply, demand, and public policies. Price controls. Quotas. Why is food more expensive in the EU than in the US? Why can't you find a new GPU at MSRP? Why do ZARA clothes have a higher list price in Venezuela? Why do they sell "milk drinks" in Venezuelan supermarkets? Was it a good idea to raise the minimum wage in Spain in 2020? 4. The three effects of a tax. The deadweight cost of taxation. Optimal tax systems. Tax incidence. Sufficiency, efficiency and equity. A reduced VAT rate for food? A reduced income tax for IT professionals? 5. The efficiency of free trade and the cost of protection. Tariffs. Quotas. Non-tariff barriers. Winners and losers from trade. Arguments for protection. How protectionist is the EU? 6. Preferential trade agreements. Trade creation. Trade diversion. Would Romania benefit more from Moldova's EU integration than Moldova itself? 7. Externalities. Pigouvian taxes. Quotas. Tradeable pollution permits. Public goods. Private goods. Rivalry. Excludability. Club goods. 8. Monopoly. The costs of monopoly. Economies of scale and natural monopolies. EU competition policy. Should the EU allow the creation of European champions? 9. Measuring the macroeconomy. Production, growth, employment, inflation, income distribution. Is Ireland the most developed country in the EU? 10. Money and monetary policy. Inflation. The inflation tax. The money multiplier. Who creates money in the EU? The Covid-19 pandemic and a digital currency for the ECB? 11. Fiscal policy. The multiplier effect. Crowding out. Ricardian equivalence. How much is the government spending multiplier? The political business cycle: partisan and opportunistic. The Stability and Growth Pact. 12. Economic growth. The Harrod-Domar model. The neoclassical growth model. Conditional convergence. Why does Romania grow faster than Germany? 13. Introduction to public choice. The median-voter theorem. The principal-agent problem. Exit, voice and loyalty. 14. Closing lecture.

Indicative reading: 

Mankiw, N. G. (2020). Principles of economics, 9th ed. Cengage learning. Previous editions of the book are OK.

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