Curriculum

Double bachelor in Economics and Philosophy of Economics

In the philosophy programme you will get acquainted with the ideas of great thinkers from the past, from Plato to Marx, from Aristotle to Wittgenstein. In courses on modern philosophy fundamental philosophical and scientific questions will be addressed. What is truth? What is knowledge? What is science? Is democracy the best form of government? We also deal with more concrete ethical issues from a philosophical point of view, for instance: does an alcoholic always deserve a liver transplantation?

In the economics programme you lay the foundation in economics, business economics and quantitative courses in the first two years. Afterwards you can choose from a variety of elective courses and specialisations. We encourage you to explore international perspectives and take classes abroad. Please check the sections about the International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics and the bachelor Economie en Bedrijfseconomie for more specific information on the economics programme.

The first year: laying the foundation for economics

Your first year is divided into five blocks of eight weeks. Each block consists of three courses: one economics course, one course in business economics and one (or more) support course(s) or skills training.

Subjects range from marketing to mathematics, and accounting to organisation and strategy. In separate sessions, led by a student mentor, you will work on your skills in studying, presentation, writing and debating.

The second year: adding introductory philosophy

In addition to the regular economics curriculum, you will follow two introductory philosophy courses in the first ten weeks of the academic year. The first course, The Early Enlightenment, runs from week 36 until 39 with exams in week 40. The second course, The Quest for Man I, will be taught from week 41 until 44, with exams in week 45.

The third year: a mixture of both

In the third year you also follow the regular economics curriculum. On top of that, you attend introductory philosophy courses in the first ten weeks of the academic year. The first course, Essential Contemporary Challenges, runs from week 36 until 39, with exams in week 40. The second course, Thought Experiments, will be taught from week 41 until 44, with exams in week 45. You will also follow the courses Philosophy of Science I and II, and Technology and Social Change, which may count as a minor for the Econometrics programme as well.

The fourth year: advanced philosophy

The fourth year of your Double bachelor in Economics and Philosophy of Economics will consist solely of advanced philosophy courses, divided into four blocks per year. Each block runs for 10 weeks and lectures will mainly be given in the evening hours. In total the fourth year contains 60 credits. The fourth year includes advanced courses on the history of thought, the philosophical aspects of man and culture and social and political philosophy. You will write your thesis in the course of this final year under close supervision of a staff member. 

In class

All economic issues also have a philosophical component. In a number of courses students will get involved in thought experiments. A wide variety of topics are analytically discussed, focusing on conceptual analysis. You could think of topics such as the existence of God, skepticism, the mind-body problem, moral responsibility, ethics or politics. Students reflect critically on the powers and limits of the capacity of our minds. Moreover, they develop the academic skills to put ‘thought experimentation’ into practice: to use their own imagination and creativity for scientific and philosophical purposes.

In your first year course in microeconomics, you will learn the basic theories of rational and game theoretic choice (of any economic actor, including individuals, firms and government agencies). You will also see how these theories apply to and predict real world behaviour of people, firms and governments, through direct concrete examples worked out during the exercise sessions.

International character

All lectures and seminars of the philosophy programme are in English. Examinations may also be answered in Dutch. Depending on the subject matter, it is also allowed to write a thesis in Dutch. For economics you can choose the International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics or the Dutch equivalent called Economie en Bedrijfseconomie. The latter will be taught in Dutch initially, but all your books will be in English. During the second year there will be a few courses in English and by the third year the entire programme will be in English.

You are introduced to opportunities to have debates and discuss a wide range of (controversial) topics with students from different cultural and academic backgrounds. In this international and interdisciplinary environment a lively philosophical community emerges in which all students partake. 

Course overview

Please keep in mind that the blocks of Erasmus School of Economics are scheduled in different time slots than the blocks of the Erasmus School of Philosophy.

Study schedule

The Take-Off is the introduction programme for all new students at Erasmus School of Economics. During the Take-Off you will meet your fellow students, get acquainted with our study associations and learn all the ins and outs of your new study programme, supporting information systems and life on campus and in the city.

Content:

  • Properties of functions
  • Differentiation
  • Single variable optimization
  • Functions of many variables
  • Tools for comparative statics
  • Multivariable optimization
  • Constrained optimization

The course includes, but is not limited to the following topics:

  • Basic bookkeeping techniques
  • Basic definitions in bookkeeping, financial and management accounting
  • Purchase and sale of goods
  • Depreciation of fixed assets
  • Accounting for bad debts
  • Long term liabilities
  • Accounting for Inventories
  • Statement of Cash Flows
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Importance of analyzing and managing costs (e.g. product costing systems, Job-Shop and batch production)
  • Process Costing and Cost Allocation (e.g. Process-costing systems, joint costs, overhead)

Guidance includes lectures in block 1 plus study progress meetings in block 2 and 3. Each mentor group consists of max. 15 students, accompanied by one mentor (a senior student). Students are informed about studying at the ESE and about effective study methods during group meetings. In addition, three individual meetings will take place, in which the student can discuss the obtained study results with the mentor.

Content:

  • The first part of the course deals with the theory of the consumer. Topics covered include consumer choice under certainty and uncertainty, and individual and market demand;
  • The second part focuses on the theory of the firm, and includes the topics of firm production and firm cost;
  • The last part of the course turns to market structures (monopoly, imperfect competition and perfect competition), to the joint analysis of firm and consumer behavior within a market (general equilibrium theory) and to factor markets (especially labor).

The course Academic Skills consists of several modules:

  • Module A: Academic Communication Skills. This module takes place in block 2 and is linked to the course Micro-Economics. Students practice their presentation skills. Furthermore, students need to make assignments and give a presentation.
  • Module B: Academic Writing Skills. This module takes place in block 3 and is linked to the course Macro-Economics. Students work on assignments with a focus on reviewing literature.
  • Module C: Academic Research Skills. This part takes place in block 4 and is linked to the course Behavioral Economics. Students work on assignments throughout the block which a focus on examining data and reporting research results.
  • Module D: Conducting research individualy, presenting research and reflection skills. This part takes place in block 5 and is linked to the course Organisation and Strategy. Students work on assignments throughout the block, resulting a research paper. The papers will be presented during the last tutorial. Finally, students make an assignment in which they reflect on their current research capabilities.

  • Module A: Academic Communication Skills. This module takes place in block 2 and is linked to the course Micro-Economics. Students practice their presentation skills. Furthermore, students need to make assignments and give a presentation.

The course includes:

  • Interactions between money markets and goods markets
  • The impact of government policy on aggregate employment and output
  • Interaction between national economies through international trade and capital flows
  • Insights into the ways that the micro- and macroeconomic features of the economy interact through production, consumption, and economic policy

Applied Statistics 1 introduces exploratory statistics, probability theory and explanatory statistics.

Topics include statistical measures and graphics for the exploration of a single variable and relations between two variables, including linear regression. In addition, probability theory is treated (together with Bayes theorem) and distributions of random variables, such as the Poisson distribution that is important in the analysis of queuing problems.

Other topics are the estimation of the mean and hypothesis testing of the mean with known and unknown standard deviation. In addition, hypothesis testing for variances and differences in proportions are treated. Some of the exercises make use of SPSS.

Module B: Academic Writing Skills. This module takes place in block 3 and is linked to the course Macro-Economics. Students work on assignments with a focus on reviewing literature.

The contents of the course organisation and strategy cover three blocks: the firm, the market, and the [macro-]environment.

Besides a theoretical approach to these concepts, considerable attention is directed to the explanation and relevance of the concepts by means of extensive practical examples and applications. These examples are discussed during the plenary lectures, guest lectures, working groups, as well as the skills classes.

  • Module C: Academic Research Skills. This part takes place in block 4 and is linked to the course Behavioral Economics. Students work on assignments throughout the block which a focus on examining data and reporting research results.

This course follows on the course on descriptive statistics in Applied Statistics 1 (FEB11005) and prepares the ground for active scientific research in later courses (Methods and Techniques FEB12012, Research Project FEB12013, in seminar and thesis projects, and later in jobs requiring skills in doing and interpreting applied research).

The course treats statistical models and methods that are often applied in economics. The right method depends on the research question of interest and on the nature of the available data. The main topics are the following: testing, contingency tables, ANOVA, non-parametric tests, regression (simple and multiple, time series).

During the tutorials, exercises are solved and discussed, and tutorial points can be earned. In addition, students gain experience in applying statistics by means of software.

  • The course consists of two parts: personnel economics and public economics.

  • The first part of the course focuses on incentives and workers' motivation inside organisations. The role of monetary and non-monetary incentives in motivating, selecting, and attracting workers to organisations is studied. Topics include the effects of pay-for-performance on motivating and selecting workers, optimal hiring and firing policies, education, team-work, promotion tournaments, and benefits.
  • The second part of the course focuses on the functioning of markets in case of public goods, externalities, and asymmetric information, and the role of the government in reducing the inefficiencies that arise when markets do not function perfectly. This includes distributional questions, and a discussion of the limits of government intervention. The normative analysis of government intervention is pared to a positive analysis of collective decision-making.

FW-WB3924
In this course we start close at home, for it was Pierre Bayle, ‘le philosophe de Rotterdam’, whose attacks on religious prejudices and whose demands for toleration would serve later generations of enlightened authors as a major source of inspiration. Next, we will turn to France, and to Montesquieu and Voltaire in particular. In France a new cultural phenomenon emerges: the philosophe, witty, sociable, and fiercely critical of received tradition. Many French authors start reading British philosophers, and in this course we will deal with both Berkeley and Hume, and we will wrap up this overview of the early stages of the Enlightenment with a discussion of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Adam Smith.

FW-WB3926
The first part of the course offers a systematic overview of the main subjects  and concepts of Philosophical Anthropology, and its relationship to other philosophical disciplines, such as ethics and social philosophy, and the empirical sciences and humanities, which deal with human beings.
Next, we will distinguish the mechanistic, organismic, and hermeneutic conception of man and, inspired by Kant’s and Dilthey’s transcendental philosophy, we will analyze the third-person, second-person, and first person ontological perspectives connected to these conceptions. Against the background of the ‘Historization of the World View’, both in its naturalistic (Darwin) and hermeneutic (Dilthey) form, we will discuss Plessner’s philosophical anthropology as a still topical attempt to connect the two. Finally, against this background, will reflect on the possible futures of the human life form in the light of the so-called converging technologies.

The course international economics focuses primarily on the world economy as such and the relationships between countries and trading blocks regarding international trade, capital flows, economic growth, exchange rates and financial crises. Although macroeconomic quantities are at the core of the analysis, these will usually be built up from a microeconomics perspective. The nature of the analysis implies that international economists frequently find inspiration elsewhere for their applications, for example from economic geography, monetary economics, econometrics, development economics or industrial organization. This approach results in a rich diversity of insights, nonetheless characterized by a remarkable coherence.

European countries are noted for the extent and depth of their welfare systems. Health care coverage is universal and predominantly publicly financed, while social protection against poverty and social exclusion tends to be substantially more generous than on other continents. The continued viability of the European social model is hotly debated. Some question whether generous welfare provisions are consistent with maintaining competitiveness in increasingly globalized markets. Others retort that social insurance eases transitions through the business cycle and public financing of health care constrains costs, including those falling on employers.

This course uses economics to cast light on these issues. Distinguishing between pursuit of equity and efficiency goals, it assesses whether equity gains through state involvement in the finance and provision of health care are achieved at the cost of efficiency, and it considers whether social protection slows the economy by distorting incentives or oils the wheels of growth by cushioning blows to the losers from creative destruction.

The course applies concepts – equity-efficiency trade-off, insurance, adverse selection, moral hazard, tax/benefit disincentives – introduced in Applied Microeconomics (FEB12001X) to analyze public policy on health care and social protection.
 
You must choose to focus on either health care or social protection. You will work, individually (for 35% of available marks) and with a group of 3 other students, sequentially through 4 assignments on the chosen topic that feed into an assessed policy report, which accounts for 45% of the available marks. Writing such a report will help you acquire analytical skills of the type exercised by economists working in consultancies, government, NGOs and think tanks. You will be randomly assigned to a group that remains fixed throughout the duration of the course. Each group will be randomly assigned one European country (France, Denmark, Germany, Spain, or the Netherlands), and will study either health care or social protection in that country.

Finance 1: valuation

During this course we'll study the knowledge necessary to value a firm. The value of the firm influences the prices of its shares en determines the price paid for shares in case of mergers and acquisitions. From the perspective of the financial manager and the financers of the firm Finance 1: valuation will show how investment and financing decisions influence the value of the firm. Besides thinking in terms of classical rational profit maximization thinking, we'll address important developments in behavioural finance and sustainability as well.
Finance 1: valuation encompasses classes, tutorial sessions, webcasts and on-line exercises. During the weekly classes, teacher present knowledge. The tutorial sessions will be focused around real-life case studies, such that students understand how the knowledge is applied for real investment decisions, IPO's and take overs. The webcasts are short films wherein exercises will be discuss and teacher give additional information.

The history of economic thought helps us to understand why economists think they way they do today. It describes how theoretical frameworks have changed over time.
Subjects include, among others:

  • Classical school
  • Marginalism
  • Neo-classical school
  • Keynes
  • and more recent economic approaches.

In methods and techniques students will get acquainted with the toolbox for scientific economic research. The focus is on acquiring knowledge and skills useful for fundamental and applied research in both the public and the private sector. The complete cycle of scientific research will be discussed. Research design, conceptual thinking and cross-sectional and time series techniques will be discussed.

Economics typically assumes that people behave like "Homo Economicus". Homo Economicus is a rational and selfish person without cognitive limits. Psychology has shown that people do not behave like Homo Economicus. Consequently, economic and financial models can lead to the wrong predictions and policy recommendations.

This course will give an overview of the limitations of traditional economic and financial models and how they can be improved upon by using psychological insights. The course will enable students to have a deeper and more critical look at their own profession and to learn how better economic and financial policy can be made.

Financial accounting topics:

  • Different elements of the financial statements
  • Revenue recognition
  • Equity, debt and hybrid/convertible instruments, and their impacts on earnings per share
  • Taxes and financial reporting
  • Cash flow statements

Management accounting topics:

  • Management Accounting and Control Systems
  • Planning and decision making (e.g. budgeting)
  • Evaluating and Managing performance (e.g. variance analysis, responsibility accounting, transfer pricing)

FW-WB3931
Technology evidently enables us to control, organize and optimize the activities and functions of our everyday lives. However, a classical critique in the Philosophy of Technology is that technology also creates a distance between us (as individuals), and the surrounding world. In this regard, the great developments in technology arguably lead to the illusion that everything around us is controllable, rendering us ‘safe’ at a distance. Other approaches focus instead on the mediating and connecting function of technology, which opens up new ways of experiencing and communicating. Some of the questions that motivate this course are: does technology really help us to disclose the world and connect with others, or rather does it alienate us from nature, others and even ourselves?  How is society affected by technology? Are we shaping technology or does technology shape us and our social lives? 

FW-WB3929
An answer to the question 'What is Science?’ will be expounded.

This will lead in a natural manner to the analysis of core concepts of science (method, theory, model, confirmation, verification, infirmation, falsification, observation, explanation, experiment, evidence, aims and values of science). Further an introduction to philosophical debates concerning whether science tells us the truth about reality; social components of science; metaphysical presuppositions that make scientific inquiry possible; epistemic uncertainty in times when action is needed (corona pandemic). In two tutor meetings, Excercises will be discussed, designed to understand the texts better. The text of the course consists of Modules written specially for this course.

FW-WB3930
What is critical thinking? This question seems more relevant than ever in an era of ‘post-truth politics’ and ‘alternative facts’, where it can be difficult to separate conspiracy from critique. This module explores some of the most important post-war continental social-philosophical theories and their consequences for disciplinary thinking in the humanities and social sciences. Learning about these theories will allow you to better understand and gain new insight into contemporary societal problems. The guiding notion in this course is that of critique, as developed by the Frankfurt School. We investigate the relation between society and the knowledge produced and methods used by social sciences and humanities (but also by medical and environmental sciences). We focus on critical theory (Habermas, Frankfurt School), poststructuralism (Foucault), feminist critique, postcolonial critique, tentacular thinking (Haraway) and critical realism (Latour).

FW-WB3925
This course aims to promote philosophical reflection on contemporary challenges through exploring various dilemmas and possible responses, We will examine key contemporary examples in practical philosophy of pressing social, political and cultural issues, or ‘challenges’ such as the climate crisis and the crisis of truth and trust in politics. We will discuss the specific function and value of a philosophical approach to these challenges, the relation between descriptive and normative statements in contemporary debates, the relation between philosophy and politics and the role of the philosopher in society.

 

FW-WB3927
The deliberate and purposeful use of imagination and creativity is indispensable in analytic philosophy. In this course we introduce, analyze and discuss various examples of such thought experiments, focusing on

  • What If?
  • The Analysis of Knowledge
  • Skepticism
  • The Mind-Body Problem
  • Personal Identity
  • Determinism and Free Will
  • What to Do?
  • What Should We Do?

Students develop the academic skills to put “thought experimentation” into practice, i.e., to use their own imagination and creativity for scientific and philosophical purposes.

FW-FMC1006
In this second part of ‘Human Conditions’ we will focus on Phenomenological & Hermeneutical approaches. Our point of departure will be the fortuitousness of western philosophy and the unsolved, but ever tentalising question, how we may comprehend the phenomenon of human existence while simultaniously being 'subject' and 'object' of this attempt toward comprehension ourselves.

FW-FMC1007
In this course, we analyse the transition from a linear, oppositional, externalising, identity based discourse on ecology to a circular, inclusive discourse that is based on an ecophilosophical perspective that focuses on differences and relations. Connecting the domains of art, science and politics to philosophy, a threefold ecology (ECO3) is explored and fed back into the current debates on ecology. The broad perspective is the proposition that after the modern enlightenment of the mind 21st century schizoid man is looking up to a new, medial enlightenment that acknowledges the productive role of different technologies for the constitution of our self-consciousness and of physical and social assemblages in the Anthropocene.

FW-TF2012
In this course, we discuss the insights and results of the friends of discovery, and reflect on how philosophy in general and philosophy of science in particular can further scientific progress, for instance, by optimizing the heuristics of creative, scientific problem solving, or by boosting or even creating conceptual integration in interdisciplinary contexts.

FW-HIS1019
By 1750s the French Enlightenment in particular takes off its gloves. Diderot and D’Holbach start propagating a ‘Spinozist’ materialism, which raises the issue of the origins of the Radical Enlightenment. Simultaneously Rousseau singlehandedly revolutionizes French political thought. Meanwhile, the German Enlightenment (Thomasius, Wolff, Lessing) gets under way and the eighteenth-century culture of sensibility spreads throughout Europe. Following the French Revolution, Burke and De Maistre launch their Counter-Enlightenment, the echoes of which can still be traced in twentieth-century critical accounts of the Enlightenment such as Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectics of Enlightenment.

 

FW-HIS1020
David Hume’s criticism of the notion of causality prompted Immanuel Kant to develop a new philosophy in which causality is no longer a property of the world outside us, but rather a concept in our minds that assists us in making sense of the world. This is his famous ‘Copernican Revolution’; rather than objects in the world shaping the cognitive operations of subjects (epistemological realism), these subjective operations determine our perceptions of objects and our judgements about objects (epistemological idealism).

Finally, although Kant was a great Enlightened demolisher of the truth of metaphysics, he nevertheless maintained that certain notions can still have a useful regulative function; one example is the notion of teleology. This notion plays a major role in his philosophy of history, his political philosophy and his radical plea for world peace, Perpetual Peace (1795); paradoxically enough, this teleological perspective also implies a surprisingly positive evaluation of the function of war.

FW-HIS2022
This course discusses Descartes and Spinoza and will sketch the broader historical context in which their work emerged, by focussing on humanist alternatives in ethics and politics, such as that of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645); alternative mechanistic philosophies, such as those of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679); alternative metaphysics, such as those of Platonists and Occasionalists; and alternative methodologies, such as those of Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

FW-PF1010
We will study the basic concepts and theories of social and political philosophy, and more specifically of political theory, based on the conviction that social and political thought always also has to be understood from the social and political context from which it arose. Central themes will include: modernity, state, citizenship, nationalism, power, protest, ideology, freedom, equality, civil society, discipline, feminism, orientialism, postcolonialism. Contemporary views will be discussed in relation to classic insights from the history of philosophy.

FW-PF1011
What is right and wrong, virtue or vice? What ought we to do? What is the (Highest) Good? The course considers normative ethics and discusses four major moral theories that attempt to formulate basic principles of morality: virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism and contractualism. We will also turn to meta-ethics and moral psychology to discuss more foundational issues: What are the background assumptions of the theories? Where do they show their limits? And what about their applicability to concrete moral problems in different fields of moral agency? We will discuss so called “moral dilemma cases”. In such cases, agents seem to be condemned to moral failure, they have a choice between plague and cholera. In which way and to what extent can each of the four theories help to evaluate and / or (re-)solve such dilemmatic situations?

FW-FMC2012
This module offers an introduction to a diversity of philosophical perspectives on art. Besides the classical points of view of Plato, Aristoteles, Kant, and Hegel, we will focus on 20th century philosophers: Benjamin and the Frankfurt School, Jameson, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Derrida, and Rancière. Contrary to philosophy’s traditional derogatory treatment of art, these philosophers have elaborated a new complicity between art and philosophy. Instead of speaking about art, they have started a dialogue between art and philosophy that in some cases even culminates in an aestheticization of thought and a self-reflective turn towards the artificiality of philosophy. The course is organized around three thematic clusters: 1) art and truth; 2) Marxist cultural critique; 3) modernist philosophies of art.

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