Spring 2024 - POL 856 G100

Issues in Social and Economic Policy (5)

Class Number: 7691

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2024
    Sat, 8:30–11:30 a.m.




Do governments need to intervene to correct “market failures” or are “government failures” worse than the market failures governments seek to resolve? In answering this question, the course seeks to introduce students to a wide range of schools of thoughts and approaches. The ideas and insights of diverse thinkers (mostly economists) who theorized the role and place of state institutions in a market economy are examined, from Adam Smith's political economy to Marshall’s Neo‐classical economics to Keynes and neo-Keynesians, to Hayek and “Austrian economics,” as well as radical critics of market economics. Particular attention is paid to the normative questions that underpin these theoretical reflections and their relationship to political thought and ideologies, including classical liberalism, libertarianism, egalitarianism, feminism, and so on. Students will have opportunities to think about how these theoretical themes can help making sense of contemporary policy issues, e.g., , economic inequalities, causes of business cycles, the return of protectionism, inflation, etc.


The weekly seminars include a two-hour lecture and a one-hour discussion period.


  • Essay (4,500 words) 40%
  • Short paper (4,000 words) 20%
  • Presentation (plus written follow-up) 10%
  • Final Exam 30%



Dobuzinskis, Laurent. 2022. Moral Discourse in the History of Economic Thought. London: Routledge (the hard copy is expensive and, for this reason, will not be ordered by the SFU Bookstore, but some online vendors sell it at a more affordable discount price; a digital copy is available on the SFU Library website).


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html