Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ECON3311: Heterodox Economic Theory

Department: Business School (Economics and Finance)

ECON3311: Heterodox Economic Theory

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Macroeconomics ECON2011


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To explore how economics changes, once key presumptions of the mainstream orthodox modela are relaxed.
  • To develop and encourage critical thinking by identifying the implications of the differences between mainstream and heterodox methodology, using the knowledge acquired in second-year macroeconomics.
  • To consider a variety of theoretical issues and policies from the perspective of recent research in post-Keynesian, complexity and evoluntionary economics.


  • Post-Keynesian economics is placed within the context of standard economics, with the main emphasis on macroeconomics, but also exploring elements of microeconomics.
  • Theoretical topics include: equilibrium and the role of demand in the long run; the nature of money and interest; expectations and financial fragility under uncertainty; under-employment; demand-led economic growth.
  • Policy topics include: labour market flexibility; the roles of fiscal and monetary policy, banks, corporations, financial markets and the state; exchange rates, capital flows and global economic growth. Discussion will include reference to current and recent events.
  • Complexity economics is introduced as a possible challenge to the prevailing methodology of microfoundations, providing an intermediate level of aggregation, where patterns of behaviour emerge that were not to be inferred from a purely atomistic analysis.
  • Applications of complexity are explored to explain the existence of multiple equilibria and sudden market turbulence.
  • Evolutionary economics is presented as an attempt at relaxing the excessive focus on a static equilibrium of the mainstream model, emphasising instead how the economy is shaped by evolving processes that change it on a continuous basis.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the conclusion of the module students should:
  • have knowledge and understanding of post-Keynesian, complexity and evolutionary economic theory;
  • demonstrate a grasp of the theoretical differences from the standard model;
  • demonstrate an understanding as to why policy implications differ from the standard model.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • At the end of this module students should be able to:
  • undertake critical analysis and evaluation of competing theoretical arguments;
  • analyse and interpret economic texts;
  • identify the tacit premises of policy arguments.
Key Skills:
  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning
  • The construction of concise logical argument in prose as well as in mathematics
  • The use of mathematical modelling and accounting outside an equilibrium context

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is by lectures and seminars. Learning takes place through attendance at lectures, preparation for and participation in seminar classes, and independent study.
  • Formative assessment is by means of a 2000 word written assignment which prepares students for the examination through providing them with experience of writing the required type of answer and feedback.
  • Summative assessment is by means of a 2hour 30mins written examination which allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 1 hour 8
Preparation and reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 30 mins 100%

Formative Assessment:

One written piece of work of not more than 2,000 words

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University