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POL S 270 A: Introduction to Political Economy

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:00am - 11:20am
KNE 220
Prof. Anthony Gill
Anthony Gill

Syllabus Description:

Syllabus forthcoming.

Course Catalogue Description:

PLEASE NOTE: Prof. Gill maintains very strict standards for course participation and meeting all deadlines for assignments. If you are unable to participate in class discussion on a regular basis, or if you have difficulty in meeting deadlines, this course may not be for you.

Draft syllabus as of June 9, 2024. Subject to change as we approach the beginning of the fall term. Check back frequently for updates.

Political economy is a rapidly expanding and increasingly diverse field of inquiry in political science.  This class has two purposes. First, it designed to introduce students to the analytical side of political economy – i.e., the use of economic assumptions and analysis to understand political and social.  We will explore a school of thought commonly known as “rational choice” and its derivatives – decision theory, public choice, and game theory.  “Rational choice” analysis is contrasted frequently with cultural and psychological perspectives on human behavior, though they are not necessarily incompatible.  Second, we will also tackle a fundamental question underlying all political economy inquiries: How do humans allocate resources in society?  We will compare and contrast decentralized (market) and centralized (hierarchy/government) methods of allocation.  There is a strong emphasis on developing an intuitive understanding of economics.

The learning goals of the course including learning the material presented in the course and developing an understanding of about three dozen economics concepts that can be applied in everyday life. Students are also graded upon their ability to meet deadlines, which implicitly includes an aptitude for time management and overcoming life's obstacles.  

Grading will be based upon discussion section participation, weekly reading assignments, an in-class midterm exam, a short take-home essay, and an in-class final exam. 

Textbooks will likely include:

  • Harold Winter, Trade-Offs (3rd edition)
  • Peter Leeson, The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates
  • Terry Anderson & P.J. Hill, The Not So Wild, Wild West
  • Albert Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty
  • Michael Munger, Tomorrow 3.0


POL S 270 was voted UW's "Best Course" by the Panhellenic Association and Intra-fraternal Council in 2013 and Prof. Gill received "Best Sense of Humor" and "Best School Spirit" in 2012 and 2011, respectively.  Since then, he's been coasting on good vibrations.

Catalog Description: 
Political economy as a tool for understanding and evaluating the political world. Combines theory, methods, and insights derived from economics and political science and applies them to a range of substantive issues.
Department Requirements: 
International Relations Field
American Politics Field
GE Requirements: 
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated: 
April 18, 2024 - 10:03pm