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Political Economy (Political Science)

Political Economy (Political Science)

How do global economic and political forces shape the lives and future of citizens, business, and civil society? Of political conflict and government? Your Master programme in Political Economy will teach you to answer these questions. The programme covers the ground from ‘economics for non-economists’ to understanding how the ‘rules of the game’ are shaped, to thinking about ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of an open global economy and how that gives rise to ‘new’ conflicts and to a surge of anti-globalisation political movements. You will in global and comparative terms address the 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.

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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.  We also confront the social dimension of key political challenges by exploring issues such as social inequalities and corporate power so as better to understand how this plays out in different party political or non-democratic environments. These dynamics cut across a rich terrain of contemporary issues and 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, among which:

  • Powerful emerging economies in Africa and Asia are ‘on the move’, business lobbies push their preferences, and the success of the developing world is a growing challenge to the dominance of the advanced economies in global and regional governance.
  • Technological change and the Internet revolution are transforming the corporate sector, labour markets, 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. 

Our programme also teaches you that 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.

Meet the people

Read more about the Course Manual

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 the way our programme ‘brings 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 taps your 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 strong demand in the society at large for the training we offer. The programme equips graduates to compete successfully with management, public policy, and economics-trained students for relevant jobs in ministries, think-tanks or consultancy, companies, municipalities, International Organisations, and the media. There is little that a good political economist cannot do. For more information, see the webpage on career prospects.

Why study Political Economy in Amsterdam?

The programme is based at the University of Amsterdam, a major research university, and in one of the highest-ranking departments in continental Europe. The Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) provides a vibrant and international academic community and promotes strong academic and transferable skills development. PE candidates develop a real ‘esprit de corps’ in their year in Amsterdam as we provide you with both academic and professional skills. Our research-oriented MSc in Political Economy 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? Why is economic integration in some countries heavily politicized and in other countries accepted as a matter of fact?
  • 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?

Ambition in research?

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

Research Master Social Sciences

What is a Research Master's programme?

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

Political Economy (Political Science)
Diploma MSc Political Science
Type Regulier onderwijs
Vorm Voltijd
Studielast 60 EC, 12 maanden
Voertaal Engels
Start September
CROHO-code 66606