Political Economy (Political Science)

In the Master’s in Political Economy you will learn how global economic and political forces shape the lives and future of citizens, business, civil society, political processes and government. The track focuses on both economy and politics, and the interaction between these two concepts, in a broad spectrum. By examining theories and practice you will gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of contemporary political and economic issues.

How do global economic and political forces shape the lives and future of citizens, business, and civil society? Of political processes and government? This track focusses on the interaction of 'the economy' and 'politics', both broadly conceived. It covers the ground from ‘economics for non-economists’ to understanding how the ‘rules of the game’ are shaped, to thinking about how an open global economy gives rise to ‘new’ conflicts and to a surge of new political movements. You will explore critical issues facing the developed and developing worlds, from Asia to Europe to the Americas - contemporary challenges such as migration, the struggle for development, or better financial market governance. We also explore policy challenges with an ethical dimension such as social policies or corporate power and social inequalities so as better to understand how this plays out in different political environments.

Our starting point is that the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘the economy’ is a two-way street: political contestation shapes economic outcomes and their governance, while economic developments generate political conflicts. The causes and consequences of the on-going economic malaise have brought this highly political ‘who-gets-what’ nature of ‘the economy’ back out into the open. These dynamics cut across a rich terrain of contemporary issues, among them:

  • Powerful emerging economies are challenging the nature of economic governance at the global and regional level. Africa and Asia are ‘on the move’, business lobbies push for regional trade agreements (TTIP, TPP), and the success of the developing world is a gathering challenge to the dominance of the advanced economies.
  • Technological change and the Internet revolution are transforming the corporate sector, labour, and government. New patterns of mass-elite communication and social movement mobilisation are emerging. The world is a shrinking but more politically contentious place than previously thought.
  • Citizens feel vulnerable in the face of cross-border trade, investment, financial markets, and labour market risks. Fearing immigration, rising inequalities, and a changing welfare state, many opt for more ‘populist’ political movements of the radical left or right.  
  • ​The dynamics of change differ starkly across countries: the hopes of a precarious development process poses challenges to authoritarianism in the developing world, while declining trust in business and political elites undermines ‘mainstream’ politics in established democracies.

Political economy thus taps into your interest in both the practical and the ‘big issue’ side of global affairs, crossing over with public policy expertise and business strategy.

  • How do markets work and how do they intersect with the institutions and governance that have emerged over time, from the local to the global? What are firms, workers, and governments trying to do as they interact and clash?
  • What are the responsibilities of rich societies to the poor, to the environment, to future generations? Is the new radicalism of the  ‘losers of globalisation’ a revitalisation of or a threat to democracy?
  • How do the aspirations of ‘ordinary people’ in developed and developing societies fit with the ‘rules of the game’ determined by economic and political elites, and whose interests ought to prevail? Do global markets undermine national democratic choice?

Student profile

This track is above all a response to vocal demand from students. It draws on a long political economy tradition at the UvA that is second-to-none in Europe. Those of you with a public policy, comparative politics or international relations background often seek to specialise in the economic policy domain yet outside the confines – often ideologically and methodologically constraining – of traditional approaches in economics and business departments.  Many who have taken economics, business, or law seek our programme’s ‘bringing of politics back in’. Many from the humanities can bring their linguistic, cultural and historical knowledge to the programme’s exploration of political-economic interaction. 

Career prospects

Political Economy will tap student interest in issues of practical concern in the economy, business, and policy worlds where expertise leads to elite job opportunities. Above all we help you to think and analyse critically and independently where others merely learn to follow. There is thus strong demand in the society at large for the training we offer. For more information, see the webpage on career prospects.

Ambition in research?

For students interested in this field of study, we also offer a two-year Research Master’s programme in Social Sciences.

Degree certificate

Political Economy is a track of the accredited degree programme Political Science. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Political Science and the title Master of Science (MSc).

Key facts

MSc Political Science
Regulier onderwijs
60 EC, 12 maanden

Gepubliceerd door  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences