This course has concessions available

History Of Economic Thought

Throughout history, thinkers have tried to understand what happens between human beings as they work, consume, exchange, and seek to improve their material situation. We will examine how various thinkers, from ancient Greece to the latest Nobel Laureates, have explored, explained, and shaped the economic world we live in.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

Economic activity has profoundly transformed all societies in unpredictable ways, at different paces and in different directions (although globalisation seems to lead them towards a broadly similar model). The course will examine how thinkers, have shaped the economic world we live in. 'Ideas of economists and political philosophers, whether right or wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. In reality, the world is ruled by little else!

The course is designed as an introduction to the subject. No prior knowledge of economics is assumed. Familiarity with philosophy, however vague, could help, but is not required.

What does this course cover

The course will follow the chronological order as a natural approach, starting with Greek thinkers, Taoism, and the economy of the Indian cast system; moving to the European Middle Ages and Islam; Mercantilists and Physiocrats in the 16th and 17th Centuries, whose influence is still very much being felt; Adam Smith, of course; Liberals, Socialists and Marxists in the 19th Century; and we will examine the competing schools of economic development in the 20th Century: command economies of the Fascist and Soviet regimes, and their critique by Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian School; Keynes and social democracies, and their critique by Friedrich Hayek; the post-Marxist take on consumer societies; the theories of endogenous growth in post-colonial states; Milton Friedman and monetarism; the 'Chicago Boys'; social justice in the philosophies of Rawls, Nozick and Amartya Sen; the return of Keynesianism, with Joseph Stieglitz and Paul Krugman; and finally, of course, we will not conclude.

At the end of the course students will have a better understanding of economic issues that philosophies, religions and moralities have explored throughout history: the meaning of labour; the exploitation of nature; interest rates; private property; what constitutes wealth and social justice; community and competition - millennia-old questions that are still very much with us today. Their study forms the background knowledge we need to act as more responsible human beings and citizens.

What will it be like

The course will include tutor presentations and lively discussions.
Student self assessment and detailed feedback will be given privately on students' contributions, and assessed against stated objectives.

What else do you need to buy or do

The course will be run via the zoom platform, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.
Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session.
If you have a device, find a way to prop it up so you can work and we can see your face.
By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may be recorder by the tutor for internal education and training purposes.

Pen and paper, together with a curious and open mind, are the only requirements.

What this course could lead to

The course is intended for anyone who wishes to gain an insight into the thoughts and ideologies that have produced the economic world we live in. It is a step in becoming a better-informed and responsible producer, consumer and citizen.

mwc logo

I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference.   We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’