Classical and Contemporary Thinkers in Economics

Module code: ECN109

This is an optional module for single honours Economics and BSc Economics with Finance students.

  • How did modern economics develop as a discipline?
  • Who made the significant advances in the intellectual development within our subject?
  • How do these 'great thinkers' contribute to how we research and teach in economics today?
  • What principles and concepts in modern economics have these individuals given to us?
  • What is the continuing impact of these economists on our understanding of the ways in which governments, businesses, investors and individuals make decisions today?

Aims of the module

The module aims are:

  • to introduce students to a range of classical and contemporary economists, and to outline their contributions to the discipline of economics
  • to explain how these economists have influenced our own thinking and the kinds of economic research that is undertaken at Sheffield
  • to provide examples of the relevance of classical and contemporary economists to current economic issues

Learning objectives

By the end of the module, students will:

  • have an understanding of the historical roots and some contemporary developments in economics
  • be able to compare and contrast different analytical approaches to current problems in economics
  • have an appreciation of the breadth and depth of economics as a discipline, and some knowledge of the diversity of economics research undertaken in the department at Sheffield


This module introduces students to a range of classical and contemporary economists, including the founders of the discipline and some Nobel Prize winners, past and present. For each economist, a senior member of the department will give a short biography, outline their contributions to the discipline of economics and the development of the subject, and explain how these economists have influenced their own thinking and the research that is undertaken in economics today. Examples of the contribution of these economists to a range of current economic issues will also be used to illustrate the continuing relevance and application of their ideas.

Teaching methods

Lectures and workshops, with two lectures and one workshop dedicated to each of the classical and contemporary economists being studied (Smith, Keynes, Lucas, Kahneman etc)


Two one-hour class tests (one in each semester, each worth 30% of the overall mark) and a 5 page essay submitted at the end of semester 2 (worth 40%)

Basic reading

We advise you not to buy books before the module begins, as the reading list may change. If you wish to read in advance, look for these texts in the University library

Chang, Ha-Joon (2014) Economics: The User’s Guide, Pelican

Prerequisites none

Module leader Sarah Brown

Please note that the leader may change before the module begins

Semester Academic year

Credits 20