Political Economy

Affiliated Faculty

All students who declare Political Economy in the Fall 2014 semester or later (after August 14, 2014) must meet the new eligibility requirements, listed below:

  • must have a cumulative UC Berkeley GPA of 2.7 or higher AND
  • must have completed GLOBAL 45 (IAS 45) with a grade of B- or higher on the 1st attempt

Students who do not earn a B- or higher in GLOBAL 45 (IAS 45) in their 1st attempt will not be eligible to declare the Political Economy major beginning in Fall 2014, regardless of the semester in which GLOBAL 45 was taken. (AP scores posted later than July 1, 2018 will not be accepted.)

All other eligibility requirements will remain the same. See Requirements and Policies booklet below.

The Political Economy major examines the relationship between politics and economics in modern societies, focusing on problems of both domestic and international policy. The curriculum is both multi- and interdisciplinary and is based on the assumption that political-economic relationships are affected by society, culture, geography, and demographics.

Contemporary problems form the central focus of the major, although a strong historical perspective is emphasized. Students can choose to study planning and problem solving, environmental issues, resource distribution, or the challenges of institutional adaptation, value innovation, and changing political and economic relationships.

Some of the questions addressed in the major include:

  • the tension between rising consumer demand versus the need to minimize resource depletion and pollution;
  • the different priorities served by different varieties (e.g. capitals or socialist) varieties of political economy;
  • the different priorities served by democratic and authoritarian political systems;
  • how interdependence may undermine the efforts of national governments to cope with urgent national issues such as unemployment, inflation, health, and housing;
  • the importance of organizational structures for policy-making in both the public and private sectors.
Student Learning Goals

Undergraduates should have the following knowledge and skills when they graduate with a major in Political Economy from UC Berkeley:

Interdisciplinary Training in the Social Sciences

  • Develop a working knowledge of the approaches to understanding modern societies found in the classical social theory tradition from Machiavelli and Hobbes to Keynes and Polanyi.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the core concepts of modern political economy approaches since Keynes and Polanyi.
  • Understand the analytical tools of each of the relevant social science disciplines.

Analysis of Political Economy Theory and Practice

  • Build specific expertise in that particular area of modern political economy studied by the student’s individual concentration.
  • Understand and analyze the impact on their concentration area of modern global economic, political, and civil society conditions.
  • Understand the processes of historical development that have led their particular concentration area to its current civilization.

Historical Knowledge

  • Be able to use the history of the North Atlantic region since the industrial revolution as a set of benchmarks, contrasts, and yardsticks useful for analyzing and understanding modern political economy issues.
  • Understand the historical process that has created our modern global economy, polity, and civil society.

Language Skills

  • Acquire competency in a foreign language.
  • Participate in the education abroad program, if possible.
  • Demonstrate Research, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills.
  • Formulate well-organized arguments supported by proper use of social-science disciplinary tools; of historical and comparative contrasts and models; of top- down systemic and bottom-up individual analytical perspectives; and of aggregate statistical and individual case-study evidence.
  • Write clearly and effectively.
  • Apply appropriate quantitative analytical skills.
Major Requirements

Lower Division:
3 courses

  • Economics 1 or 2 (You must earn a C or better to declare. This course can only be repeated once.)
  • GLOBAL 45 (You must earn a B- or better to declare. This course may not be repeated to achieve a grade of B- or better.)
  • Statistics 2, C8, 20, 21 or W21

Foreign Language:
All students must demonstrate proficiency in a modern language other than English by the last semester of their senior year. Proficiency is equivalent to the ability achieved in four college-level semesters (or two years). Proficiency can be achieved through coursework, AP credit, examination and/or study abroad. For more information on how to complete the language requirement, please consult the PE Requirements & Policies handbook. Languages accepted by the College of Letters and Science are not automatically accepted by the PE major. Please check with the department for eligible languages.

Upper Division:
9 courses

  • Intermediate Microeconomics (one of the following: Econ 100A, Econ 101A, IAS 106, UGBA 101A)
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics (one of the following: Econ 100B, Econ 101B, IAS 107, UGBA 101B)
  • POLECON 100, Classical Theories of Political Economy
  • POLECON 101, Contemporary Theories of Political Economy
  • Historical Context Requirement (one course chosen from the those listed in the PE Requirements & Policies booklet)
  • Concentration (four courses): The Concentration requirement is the unifying focal point within the major. In the Concentration students are asked to apply the theoretical and historical knowledge already gained in the other upper-division coursework to an issue area in political economy.
How To Declare

Declaring:

Applications are accepted during the fall and spring semesters from the third week of instruction until the last day of instruction (not the last day of finals). Applications are accepted during the summer from the last week in June until the beginning of the fall semester (not the beginning of classes).

To be eligible to declare students must have:

completed GLOBAL 45 with a grade of B- or better on the 1st attempt. (GLOBAL 45 may not be repeated to achieve a grade of B- or better) or received a score of 5 on the AP World History exam.
completed Econ 1 or 2 with a grade of C or better (Econ 1 may be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better.) or completed the equivalent at another college or received AP scores of 4 or 5 on BOTH the micro-economics AND macro-economics exams.
are not in their final semester of undergraduate work.

Additionally, students are encouraged – but not required – to complete two semesters of college-level foreign language or the equivalent before applying to the major.

To get declared, students must both:

attend a Major Declaration Workshop (Check the IAS Calendar for dates) and
meet with an advisor to submit the PE Application materials.

For complete information on declaring PE, please consult the PE Requirements & Policies booklet.

More Info

Honors:
To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a GPA of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley. Doing honors includes a year-long course sequence (IAS H102 in the fall and POLECON H195 in the spring) in which students learn how to formulate a hypothesis, conduct supporting research, and complete a thesis paper of approximately 75 pages or longer.

After Graduation:
The PE major is designed to provide a broad-based liberal arts background as well as the intellectual skills appropriate for careers in either the public or private sector. Additionally, the major offers an excellent background for students planning postgraduate careers in social science disciplines and professional schools.

Minor:
The PE minor is open to all undergraduates except PE majors. Students must complete 5 upper-division courses. These include POLECON 100, POLECON 101, and three additional courses which must be concentrated in one of three specified areas: Globalization, Poverty, Inequality, and Policy, Science, Technology, and Economic Development. For complete information and eligibility requirements, please consult the PE Requirements & Policies book.

More information:
This description is for introductory purposes only. Students interested in completing a major or minor in PE should consult the PE Requirements & Policies booklet.

MAJOR DECLARATION WORKSHOP

    For intended Political Economy majors only:

The workshop consists of a video and a short quiz. Click here for the online Major Declaration Workshop.

News and Notes

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Network for a New Political Economy