Political Economy course description 2017-10-10T14:34:06+00:00


The idea of this course is to give the students a refresher of the basics of mathematics and statistics that they will need for the other courses of their master. Professors Bram De Rock and Marjorie Gassner will guide participants through a fast-paced exploration of:

  • How to write a proof: basic introduction to logical reasoning
  • Calculus
  • Topology
  • Linear algebra
  • Fundamentals of probability theory.

For more detailed information, download the course description.


This course by professor Phillipe Weil develops a coherent framework for analyzing the determination of macroeconomic variables such as national output, unemployment, interest rates, government debt and inflation. The course will also contribute to developing the skills needed for interpreting macroeconomic data and macroeconomic policy. One objective of the course is to provide a link between economic theory and current economic policy. Another objective is to provide students with the tools to analyze current macroeconomic policies.

This course by professors Micael Castanheira and Georg Kirchsteiger covers elements of modern microeconomics. It emphasizes the development of skills needed to evaluate the new generation of economic models, tools, and ideas as they apply to recent changes in our economy. Basic tools of game theory, asymmetric information, and modern general equilibrium price formation are introduced and applied to various topics. These topics include consumer and producer choice, decision under uncertainty, and resource allocation under different market structures such as competition, monopoly, and oligopoly. The course also focuses on some newer innovations to the theory, including the role of politics in the determination of economic policy, the impact of spillovers and network externalities in the information economy, and psychological and behavioral factors in individual decision making.

Skills acquired

  • Ability to analyze markets and price and quantity movements
  • Identify market inefficiencies
  • Understand behavior of different market and non-market agents, as well as their strategic interactions


  • Develop knowledge of microeconomic theory and behavioral economics
  • Understand how to play an active role in various markets
Political economy studies the determinants of public policy both at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels. The main focus of this introductory course by professor Laurent Bouton is on the behavior of non-market agents such as legislatures, government agencies, judicial institutions, NGOs and activist groups, the media, and their interactions with traditional market agents (firms and consumers). Political economy develops systematic frameworks for understanding such behaviors and interactions. In many situations, non-market agents heavily influence the functioning of the market. For instance, emission standards affect virtually all aspects of automobile design and manufacturing, and thereby the competitive advantages of automakers. Political economy studies how elections, lobbying, information provision, and institutional specificities shape actual emission standards, which may thus differ from the socially optimal outcome.
This course by professors Frank Vella, Franco Peracchi, and John Rust first introduces students to fundamentals methods in Econometrics, which is the study of statistical tools used to estimate economic relationships. This begins with a discussion of the linear regression model. It then proceeds to introduce a number of topics relevant to the analysis of economic data. These include instrumental variables, discrete choice modeling, panel data analysis and program evaluation. Second, it ensures that the students achieve competence with a statistical software package such that they will be able to implement the methods taught in the first part of the course.


The course by Paola Conconi and Mathieu Parenti is divided in four parts. The first part is dedicated to understanding why countries engage in international trade and what determines which goods and services they export/import. The second part focuses on firms, with the goal of understanding the behavior of individual exporters, importers, and multinationals. The third part covers trade policy. This part sheds light on the reasons why, notwithstanding the gains from having an open multilateral trading system, nations often resort to tariffs, quotas, and other non-tariff barriers. The final part of the course covers various topics, including the proliferation of regional trade agreements, the impact of international trade on labor markets and on the environment, the increasing fragmentation of production processes across countries, and the fiscal optimization strategies of multinationals.

The course is a methods course, it teaches the “How to” of impact evaluation, it is applied and practical, providing students with the tools to evaluate the impact of public policy interventions. The focus is on the design of such interventions, not on the econometric analysis of endline data. Students will learn how to apply and when to apply the theory of change, randomized evaluations as well as non-experimental evaluations. Policy relevance is a key focus of the course.

Part I: Food policy. Globally speaking, the US and European food industry are quite similar, the share of food consumption in total household expenditure are close, the employment share and the contribution to GDP are on the same range. Nevertheless, the public opinion and political perceptions are very often quite divergent on the two sides of the Atlantic.

The fundamental questions this course will try to answer are how much convergence and divergence can be observed and why, which are the reasons and reasoning behind the answers.

Part II: Industrial policy.

Financing Infrastructure, Education, and Development

This course explains the role and limits of government interventions in the delivery and financing of public services. The main emphasis will be on: (i) the identification of most common market failures and the options available for government to address them; (ii) the choice and design of general and sector financing options; (iii) the optimal assignment of expenditure and revenue across government levels. The course also discusses the drivers of government failures in the design of public policies, including those resulting from interactions between economics and politics. By the end of the course, the participants should be able to formulate and evaluate arguments on the case for government intervention and the scope for financing in a wide range of policy issues, taking into account the political constraints of specific contexts.


This course focuses on the application of economic concepts and methods to environmental issues, both in theory and in practice. The environment is strongly connected to the economy both as a source of inputs to the production of manufactured goods and as a sink for pollution from economic activities. Many environmental resources also serve as inputs to the “production” of human health and other aspects of overall well-being. However, most environmental resources are not privately owned and are typically not exchanged in traditional markets. This can lead to an over-production of pollution, over-extraction of nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels, and over-exploitation of renewable resources, such as fish or other wildlife species. In this course, students will learn how to design policies that can correct such market failures and improve environmental quality, human health, and economic efficiency.

This course offers an introduction to the burgeoning field of law and economics, or the application of microeconomic theory to positively and normatively assess various legal rules, regulations, and institutions as well as the incentives of economic agents (such as judges and criminals) operating within the legal system. Specific topics to be covered include the common law, contracts, torts, property, crime, and antitrust. Each of these topics will be supplemented with insights from the recent empirical literature. A significant portion of class assignments will involve collecting and analyzing real-world datasets. Readings will be drawn from several sources including the text, legal statues, court decisions, and the academic literature. The prerequisite for the course is Microeconomics; previous coursework in law is neither assumed nor required.

This course is an introduction to the field of health economics, covering both theory and empirical research. It begins with a discussion of the importance of health care to the economy and how health care differs from other goods and services. It will cover the human capital model of health, the determinants of health, health insurance and its associated market failures, comparisons of international health-care systems, the US system, recent health-care reform attempts such as the Affordable Care Act, provider (physician and hospital) behavior and industries, the pharmaceutical industry, and concludes with a discussion of how to measure the return to health-care spending.

The energy industry is inextricably linked to political and regulatory systems that collectively identify and implement the government objectives for the energy industry, including economic incentives for investment and regulatory oversight and compliance. This course aims to develop an understanding of the economic fundamentals of traditional fossil fuels, power and renewables and emerging technologies, which are all going through substantial transformations. The course will develop an understanding of the influence of energy policies on the energy industry and detail the recent changes in policies and implications. It will also provide an overview of regulatory systems that implement the energy policies and address the significance of geopolitical and energy security.

This course will demonstrate the importance of the energy industry to the economy, energy infrastructure developments and energy and the environment considerations. The course will provide the U.S. perspective as well as selected discussions from other countries, Asia, Europe and others, to understand the global nature of the energy industry. The course will equip the students with the necessary skillset to critically think about our current and prospective energy industry, the economy and the environment.

In the last decades the financial world has seen a tremendous evolution in investments and trading strategies. Finance is the backbone of our everyday life and still answers to basic principles despite newly designed elaborate securities and trading strategies: interest rates and rates of return when considering a loan or investing in the stock or bond markets, riskiness of assets such as stocks, bonds and loans and most profitable portfolio allocation, as well as valuation of corporations.

This course explores issues that multinational firms face and how they make domestic and international financial decisions.   It will focus on investment decision rules, with the different types of rates, risk and cost of capital, and market efficiency among other topics. Given the importance of international finance, key topics will be foreign exchange exposure, foreign direct investment decisions, multinational capital budgeting and cash management, and international banking and alternatives for international financing.

This is a masters-level course in monetary theory and policy.  It surveys some of the key theoretical and empirical literature in monetary economics.  It also considers the conduct of monetary policy and other aspects of central banking both in relatively normal circumstances and in crisis conditions.  The course begins by reviewing the structure and functions of central banks and surveying some of the principal macroeconomic analytical tools for monetary policymaking. Then empirical evidence on the monetary aggregates is reviewed. Next, several models of the demand for money for transaction purposes are considered.  The interactions between monetary policy and fiscal policy are studied next.  Attention then turns to sticky price and wage models and related analyses.  Based on the analytical tools developed earlier in the course, more immediate monetary and financial policy questions are analyzed, including monetary policy formulation, communication, and implementation, with a particular view to issues raised by the recent financial crisis.  An important aspect of this course is a focus on current U.S. and international monetary policy and central banking policy.

The aim of this course is to provide students with the necessary understanding of major concepts and theories in the field of economic development that will allow them to analyze problems and policies in this area. In addition to the conceptual tools, we will also discuss recent papers in the literature and past as well as present policies in different areas of the world.

This course focuses on applying empirical and theoretical techniques used in international economics and macroeconomics to current academic and policy issues. The course is geared toward sharpening the skills of students who wish to proceed from the master’s program to economic analyst employment in either the private or public sectors.  In this course, we read academic journal articles and other materials, primarily studies from central banks such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.  The primary objectives are assisting students in developing a facility with economic data; becoming knowledgeable about current issues in international economic policy; and providing them with actual research training befitting a high-quality economics professional.

Elective courses are generally taught by economists who work in government, international organizations, think tanks, consulting firms or other research positions in the Washington, D.C. area. These faculty members are highly experienced professionals who have deep expertise in the substantive areas in which they offer courses.

The elective courses typically entail textbook readings, readings from professional and academic journals, review of policy papers, and significant empirical work.

Back to Political Economy

Practical information: Summary

  • Starting date: August 2018

  • Location: Brussels & Washington, D.C.
  • Format: Full-time
  • Language: English
  • Tuition: $50,000
  • Length: 12 months
  • Application deadline:
    > Non-EU students: May 31st 2018 (recommendation related to visa procedures)
    > EU students: July 15th 2018

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