History of Economic Thought

Commerce & Business Administration
Course Code
ECON 2418
Semester Length
15 Weeks X 4 Hours per Week = 60 Hours
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
The ideas of economists, such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes, have shaped and challenged our understanding of the forces that regulate economic society. An examination of these ideas will provide the student a framework within which one can derive and apply the main tools -- or principles -- of economic analysis. Special attention is placed on understanding the nature of capitalism and how changes in the social, political and economic environment affected the evolution of economic thought.
Course Content
  1. Scarcity, choice and opportunity cost
  2. Pre-Capitalist Europe
  3. The Mercantilists
  4. Francois Quesnay and the Physiocrats
  5. Adam Smith and the Classicists (Ricardo and Malthus)

The Industrial Revolution

  1. John Stuart Mill and the Socialists
  2. Marx's critique of Capitalism
  3. Marshall and the Neoclassicists (Walras, Menger and Jevons)

The development of Microeconomics

  1. Veblen and the Evolutionists (Galbraith)
  2. John Maynard Keynes and 'Guided' Capitalism
    • The development of Macroeconomics
  3. Schumpeter
    • 'Paradise Lost'
  4. Friedman
    • 'Paradise Regained'
Learning Activities

Lecture and Seminar.

Means of Assessment
Term Test(s) 30% - 70%
Assignments and/or Papers   0% - 35%
Final Exam 30% - 40%
Participation and/or Quizzes        0% - 10%
Total         100%


Students may conduct research as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans, which can require obtaining Informed Consent from participants and getting the approval of the Douglas College Research Ethics Board prior to conducting the research.

Learning Outcomes

To provide students with an understanding of alternative approaches to the study of fundamental economic issues, theory and analysis.

At the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. develop and apply the main tools ('principles' or 'laws') of economic analysis.
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the interaction between society's ongoing economic, social and political development and the evolution of economic doctrine.
  3. define and analyse the theoretical and ideological differences between the Classical, Neoclassical, Marxist and Keynesian schools of thought.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students


The main text is to be chosen from the following, as determined by the instructor:

Canterbery, E. Ray.  The Making of Economics, Latest Ed.  Belmont, California:  Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Hunt, E.K.  History of Economic Thought.  A Critical Perspective, Latest Ed.

Hunt, E.K. and H.J. Sherman.  Economics, Latest Ed.  New York:  Harper and Row.

Landreth, Harry and David C. Colander.  History of Economic Thought, Latest Ed.  Toronto:  Houghton Mifflin Company.

Oser, Jacob and Stanley L. Brue.  The Evolution of Economic Thought, Latest Ed.  Toronto:  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.


Supplementary materials may be chosen from the following, as determined by the instructor:

Barber, William J.  A History of Economic Thought, Latest Ed.  Harmondsworth:  Penguin.

Fusfeld, Daniel R.  The Age of the Economist, Latest Ed.  Glenview Illinois:  Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown Higher Education.  New York:  Harper Coltus.

Heilbroner, Robert L.  The Worldly Philosphers,  Latest Ed.  New York:  Simon and Schuster Inc.

Ibsen.  Four Great Plays by Ibsen.

Orwell.  Animal Farm.

Voltaire.  Candide.




No corequisite courses.


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for ECON 2418
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ECON 2208 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG ECON 2XXX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ECON 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU ECON 306 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ECON_V 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ECON 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV ECON 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC ECON 2XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2024