Course 2012-2013 a.y.



Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
CLEAM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/04) - CLEF (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/04) - CLEACC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/04) - BESS-CLES (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/04) - BIEMF (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

The course offers a panoramic and orienting view of the evolution of economic theory from Adam Smith to the later 20th century. After completing the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the major ideas associated with each school or author studied, and thereby comprehend the origins of contemporary economic theory.
  • Evaluate similarities and differences across schools, and understand how methodological issues have often shaped the development of economic ideas.
  • Use differences across schools and paradigms to think critically about the underlying assumptions of economic theories learned in other courses.

Course motto (from Keynes): "A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind. I do not know which makes a man more conservative to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past".

Course Content Summary

  • Classical political economy (1776-1870): Smith, Ricardo, Marx.
  • The marginal revolution (1871-1874): Menger, Jevons, Walras.
  • Consolidation of marginalism (1874-1900): Böhm-Bawerk, Edgeworth, Wicksteed, Marshall.
  • Developments in utility theory and demand analysis (1900-1940): Pareto, Slutsky, Hicks & Allen, Samuelson, Friedman.
  • Monetary and business cycle theories (1900-1936): Fisher, Pigou, Wicksell, Hayek.
  • Keynes: from the Classical theory to the General Theory (1923-1936).
  • IS-LM macroeconomics and the neoclassical synthesis (1936-late 1960s): Hicks, Modigliani, Samuelson.
  • Monetarism, new classical macroeconomics, and real business cycle theory (late 1960s-2000): Friedman, Lucas & Sargent, Kydland & Prescott.
  • Birth and early developments of game theory (1928-late 1960s): von Neumann, Morgenstern, Nash.
  • The axiomatization of utility theory and the analysis of risky decisions (1940-1960): Debreu, Savage, Allais, Ellsberg.
  • The rise of behavioral economics (1980-2000): Kahneman & Tversky.


Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Students can choose between two different ways of taking the exam:

  • Students can take a written exam, in which they are asked to answer questions or discuss topics addressed in class; the written exam can be broken in two partial exams.
  • Students who attend a sufficient number of classes have also the option of writing a brief essay on an assigned topic, and discuss orally with the teacher the essay and the topics covered in the course.



  • I. Moscati, Lecture Notes on the History of Economic Thought. From Classical Political Economy to Behavioral Economics. Egea, Milano 2012.
  • Original texts available on Learning Space.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


Familiarity with basic micro- and macroeconomic theory

Last change 29/03/2012 16:29