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Master of Arts in Economics

The MA in Economics (with specialization in Development and Policy) is designed to closely align with Azim Premji University’s mission to develop competent and committed professionals for the development sector. The MA in Economics is a uniquely designed programme to develop the next generation of Economists with the theoretical knowledge, and technical skills to perform high quality analyses, while at the same time being grounded in the institutional, developmental and ecological context of contemporary India. The programme is designed to draw upon the expertise already present at the University in the areas of development, policy and governance, and education. The programme will help students develop strong technical economic skills along with contextual understanding of development issues facing India. It is intended for students who want to go into the development sector, public policy and also at students who want to pursue further studies in Development, Economics or Public Policy.

Programme Goals

The programme objective of the MA in Economics is to develop a wide range of skills—the ability to make sense of a complex social reality, a strong aptitude in dealing with abstract numbers and statistics, a sense of the historical context of societies, an understanding of human motivation and a feeling for the moral and ethical underpinnings of social arrangements. The hope for economists is that the knowledge they acquire can be used to help promote a better society.

Azim Premji University’s unique approach is to provide students with a strong understanding of the Indian economy, economic theory, tools of analysis and the ability to practically apply these to current economic and development issues. Upon completion of our programme our goal is to have students of Economics who are socio-politically engaged, quantitatively adept and able to engage in the development sector and provide solutions for pressing problems.

Our programme offers a number of innovative approaches to advancing Economics education. Firstly, students will be exposed to a plurality of schools of thought within economics, which are historically grounded and puts real world issues and problems in the forefront. Secondly, our programme gives precedence to understanding economics through the practical application of its techniques to the Indian economy and development context. Lastly, we employ innovative pedagogical approaches to economics including problem-based learning, flipped classrooms, collaborative learning environments and the use real economic datasets with the economics core curriculum courses.

A MA in Economics will provide students with a number of skills and preparation for entering the world of work. Employers from the public to private and non-profit sector value the knowledge base and skills, both analytical and empirical, that economists acquire. Students who wish to further their studies post-graduation will also be well placed with a strong foundation of economic theory, practice and application to real world phenomenon.

The overarching learning objectives of the MA in Economics can be broken into two main areas – knowledge outcomes and skill acquisition. Our desired outcomes include goals related to knowledge of Indian economic development, economic concepts, development theory, critical thinking skills, quantitative and writing skills for public and academic engagement.

Knowledge

1. Knowledge of economic development within the Indian context
2. Knowledge of development theories and concepts
3. Knowledge of real-world institutions and actors involved in economic development within the Indian context.

Skills

1. Skill in communication for public and academic audiences
2. Skill in problem solving and analysis
3. Skill in conducting independent research

Course Structure

The MA in Economics consists of 72 credits requiring full-time study for four semesters over two years. The curriculum is designed with the following course and credit structure:

Type of Course Courses Credits Semester(s)
Core courses 9 36 S1, S2 & S3
Field Practice 1 4 Winter1
Elective courses 4 16 S3 & S4
Master’s Thesis
---------------
OR Master’s Internship
1
-----
2
6 End of S2 through S4
--------------
End of S2 through S3
Master’s Seminar 1 2 S3
Communicating Economics 1 4 S3
Creative Expressions 2 4 S1 & S2
Total Credits 72
Core Courses

Core courses cover the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to be able to understand economics from the developmental context of contemporary India. The courses cover traditional economic theory and methods, while also addressing the institutional, developmental and ecological concerns of India. The core courses consist of the following: microeconomics of development, mathematical models in economics, sociology of development, quantitative and qualitative research methods, macroeconomics of development, political and legal institutions, ecology and development in India, econometrics of impact evaluation and economics of identity [course descriptions given in the end]. Each core course carries four credits.

Field Practice

Engaging and challenging field-engagements are envisaged as part of the programme to help students develop their skills in doing field work. The Field Practice allows students to apply classroom learning, particularly from the Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods course, to analyse real world development challenges in a variety of contexts. In particular, it offers the opportunity to apply qualitative methods in the field, a skill that many economists are found lacking in. The Field Practice happens in the winter between semesters 1 and 2 and carries four credits.

Elective courses

Elective courses are offered in the third and fourth semesters and are designed for students to extend their foundational knowledge from the core courses and develop domain expertise in particular fields. We expect to offer electives in the following areas: microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, banking and financial markets, history of economic thought, feminist economics, labour, governance, health, education, environment, public finance and data programming. The electives on offer may vary across cohorts depending on student interests and faculty specializations. Each elective course carries four credits. A student is required to take four elective courses in order to graduate with 72 credits, but if the student desires and in consultation with faculty, they could choose up to 6 electives and graduate with up to 80 credits.

Master’s Thesis Track

The Master’s thesis is an optional track available to all students. The thesis entails intensive engagement with interesting questions/areas of study/research topics, and is also meant to spark interest in tackling open questions in the discipline. This engagement is expected to cement skills in conceptualizing and articulating a research question, evaluating and applying appropriate research methods and creating a rigorously reasoned manuscript. It is also expected to inculcate independent and self-motivated learning habits amongst students. The majority of the Master’s Thesis work will take place during summer between semesters 2 and 3 (some linked directly to the field practice sites), with the analysis and write-up occurring over semesters 3 and 4. The Master’s Thesis carries six credits.

Master's Internship Track

The Master’s Internship is an optional track available to all students. It is designed for those who would like to engage in action outside the classroom. It is designed to expose students to a variety of contexts in which economists work within the development sector. It has two components, a Master’s Internship and Community Engagement. The Master’s Internship entails an eight week engagement, typically with a civil society organization or a government official, in the summer between semesters 2 and 3. The two week long Community Engagement happens in the winter between semesters 3 and 4 and involves either working in the community around the University or assisting in the facilitation and coordination for our field practice course. The Master’s Internship and Community Engagement components are worth four and two credits, respectively.

Master's Seminar

The Master’s Seminar is a mandatory course for all students in their third semester. It is designed to facilitate peer learning through structured classroom interaction between Internship and Thesis track students. Specifically, through classroom presentations, the internship students showcase their field engagements, share the challenges faced and the insights gained from their experience, while the thesis students articulate their question, present the existing literature, and outline the methods that they propose to use for analysis. The Master’s Seminar carries two credits.

Communicating Economics

The Communicating Economics course provide students with an introduction to pedagogy and assessment for teaching economics in a variety of contexts - from classrooms to development professionals working in a range of different areas. As part of this course students will be required to develop and run a 1/2 day workshop on an economics topic to a diverse audience. The Communicating Economics course is worth four credits.

Creative Expressions

The two required Creative Expressions courses happen in the first year of the program. These courses introduce students to the dimensions of multi-modal understanding through work and play in activities such as music, sport, games, dance, pottery, woodworking and theatre. Each creative expressions course carries two credits.

Independent Study

Students have the option of taking an independent study under the guidance of a faculty member on a specialized topic of interest. A student acquires 1 credit from independent study on completing 40 hours of study including self-study and writing of at least 36 hours duration and also mentoring and assessment by a faculty member of 4 hours. A 4 credit independent study has the following requirements over a 16-week semester: (i) A self-study component that requires 144 hours of study or research including writing of an extended essay of 6000 words or a research report (ii) Mentoring and assessment time with an instructor of 16 hours.

Course Structure and Calendar
S1 Microeconomics of Development Mathematical Models in Economics Sociology of Development Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods Creative Expressions 1
Winter1 Field Practice
S2 Macroeconomics of Development Political and Legal Institutions Ecology and Development in India Econometrics of Impact Evaluation Creative Expressions 2
Summer Master’s Thesis
OR
Master’s Internship
S3 Economics of Identity Communicating Economics Master’s Seminar Elective 1 Elective 2
Winter2 Community Engagement (Internship only)
S4 Elective 3 Elective 4 Master’s Thesis conclusion

Courses in bold are mandatory for all students

Selection Process

Entry requirements for MA Economics are an undergraduate degree in Economics. Exceptions to this will be made on a case-by-case basis with students who are able to demonstrate sufficient economics knowledge. Additionally, an entrance exam and interview will be conducted. Know more

Course Descriptions

A list of courses with short descriptions is appended. This is an incomplete list. More electives will be added subsequently.

Microeconomics of Development

States, markets, and communities together structure economic life in a society. Developing societies are characterised by rapid changes in the balance of these three institutions and contestations between them. This course uses microeconomic models of the developing economy developed by Joseph Stiglitz, Debraj Ray, Pranab Bardhan and others to analyse the functioning of land, labour and capital markets in the presence of incomplete information and contracts, and lack of clear property rights. We examine how state and community-based institutions interact with markets to produce outcomes. The course also introduces students to debates over measurement of poverty and inequality. Students also use data from sources such as National Sample Survey, India Human Development Survey, National Family and Health Survey, World Development Indicators and ILOSTAT to make their own estimates of poverty rates, inequality, unemployment, educational and health outcomes.

Mathematical Models in Economics

This course introduces students to a rigorous mathematical treatment of some of the standard models used in economics. As part of their previous economics training, students would have engaged with some of these models. This course aims to provide students with a deep and clear understanding of the assumptions, the methods and the applicability of these models. Students will learn to set up and solve these models and extend them to understand the economic questions they are applied to. This course would be required for the students to take more advanced courses in economic theory where a clear understanding of these workhorse models would be a prerequisite.

Sociology of Development

The Sociology of Development introduces students to the sociological concepts, theories and methods in the study of contemporary development issues facing India. Particular attention will be paid to social stratification on the basis of caste, gender and class. Specifically, this course will provide a historical context to the idea of development, starting from the end of colonialism, emergence of the ‘third world’ countries, rise of nationalism, and contemporary desire for development. In addition, this course will look at the impact of globalisation on development by not only focusing on Indian experience, but also learning from other global south contexts such as Nepal, Columbia, Indonesia and Lesotho.

Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

This course is designed to build core competencies in research by providing an introduction to research methods used in economics. It will cover research ethics, research design, qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods. Qualitative methods will include interview, focus group discussion and observation techniques. Quantitative methods will include sampling, survey design and data management and analysis in R.

Macroeconomics of Development

This course begins with a model of a dual economy based on the work of Lewis, Ranis-Fei, and Harris-Todaro as its foundation. The experience of structural change in the late industrialisers is analysed with particular emphasis on the role of trade and industrial policies. The course will take a comparative approach by looking at the East Asian, South Asian, African, and Latin American experiences. The role of agricultural reform in achieving industrialisation will also be examined. The second half of the course uses a structuralist macro model of the developing economy based on Sukhamoy Chakravarty, Mihir Rakshit, Lance Taylor, and others. Supply-side as well as demand-side constraints on growth that are particular to a developing economy, will be analysed. The economic and political trilemmas will be discussed. Finally, the development implications of the post-2008 world economic order including the return of protectionism, “premature deindustrialisation”, fiscal austerity, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be examined.

Political and Legal Institutions

Despite a progressive Constitution and several landmark laws, India continues to be buttressed by various shades and dimensions of inequality. The four pillars of democracy – executive, legislature, judiciary, media -- play an inescapable role in our daily lives as social, economic and political agents. The role and accountability of the State are undergoing complex changes. While institutions and their norms provide a concrete structure to the State’s vision and action, the Constitution provides rights and legal safeguards to individuals. This interplay between the State and citizens mediated through institutions and the four pillars of democracy provide a critical basis to understand fundamental questions about an individual’s power in society. By placing the Constitution of India at the centre of the discourse, this course examines some key aspects of democratic institutions. It starts with a historiography of the early years of nation building through institutions such as the judiciary, planning commission, and the election commission. The course will look at the evolution of some rights-based legislations such as the Right to Information Act, the role of social movements in taking an idea from the street to the parliament. The course then takes a critical look at how the Constitution and the State have played out in the margins. We look at some landmark Court judgements such as the Keshavananda Bharti case, then ‘Basic Structure Doctrine’, the ADM Jabalpur case and through the lens of the Right to Food, we analyse how the four pillars of democracy have fared. In light of the post COVID world, we compare the role of the judiciary in the Right to Food and the migrant worker crisis. The Right to Food is a great example as it combines sound economic wisdom along with various social and political objectives enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Ecology and Development in India

The course will enable students to view India’s development trajectory using an integrated social-ecological systems perspective -- understanding that the social cannot be delinked from the ecological. The course will also help them see how to use this frame to interrogate mainstream contemporary narratives of India’s development, placing them in a historical context to understand the political and socio-economic drivers of ecological change. In doing so, the course will focus on India’s production systems (agriculture, pastoralism, fisheries, forestry, mining etc) using a social-ecological lens. It will discuss alternate ecological ways of visualizing India’s developmental goals (e.g. Gandhian growth, eco-feminism, eco-Marxism). The course will also look forward in time, by discussing emerging developmental challenges for India in the 21st century that have ecological links: e.g. urbanisation, climate change, planetary boundaries, energy, and industrial ecology.

Econometrics of Impact Evaluation

Concerned citizens and policy makers are often interested in understanding the effects of specific interventions/events on outcomes of interest. For example, has the mid-day meal scheme improved child health and school performance? Or, how do communal riots impact vote shares of major political parties and do some parties systematically benefit from them? This course will present an overview of statistical techniques that can tease out such causal effects. The focus would be on understanding alternative techniques and their (un)suitability in different contexts. It would also emphasize the need for integrating economic theory with empirical analysis to be able to understand the pathways and mechanisms that bring about change. The course content will be embedded within the Indian context and will include the study of some contemporary public programmes. Prerequisites: quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Economics of Identity

The course begins by discussing how different schools of thought in economics – Neo-classical, Marxian, Feminist, Post-colonial, among others – conceptualise identity as a theoretical category. Specifically, the identity of gender, race and caste, sexuality, religion, and intersecting identities are discussed. Next, building upon these theoretical formulations, the course explores the issue of identity-based inequality and discrimination in the labour market using different approaches, including statistical discrimination, labour market segmentation, and stratification. The course then engages with the wide ranging empirical literature to analyse how these identity-based inequalities are reflected in the domains of both wage and non-wage work. It then engages with theories of social capital and norms to discuss how, despite undertaking measures towards ensuring equality, identity-based inequalities are socially reproduced. As possible ways of addressing this issue, the course evaluates the policies of reservations, affirmative action, and reparations. Going a step further, it then connects the critiques of identity-based discrimination to the broad socio-economic structure, and analyzes the possibilities of alternate structures to address the issues of identity-based inequalities. The course ends with a critical engagement with political strategies for moving towards alternate structures, such as Women’s strike, Dalit struggles, and the Black Lives Matter movement, that have become central to the discourse of identity, both within and outside academia.

Advanced Macroeconomic Theory (Elective)

The course surveys macroeconomic theory and its evolution through the use of rigorous mathematical and logical models. Macroeconomics primarily deals with the determinations and relations of five variables, namely: (i) Gross Domestic/National Product, (ii) Employment/unemployment, (iii) Price Level/Inflation-Deflation, (iv) Balance of Payments and the exchange rate and (v), Growth. The focus of this course is mainly on short run macroeconomics. The course is primarily designed to give an exposure to the students of the developments in macroeconomic theory during the 20th century since Keynes’s important contribution to economics in 1936, by developing the key ideas of aggregate demand and liquidity preference. It will also introduce students to the macroeconomics of developing economies, sometimes called ‘structuralist macroeconomics’ as part of the course.

Advanced Microeconomic Theory (Elective)

The course will delve into some selected areas of microeconomic theory where there has been active research in recent years and give students the understanding and the tools to engage with these areas. The topics will include evolutionary game theory, network analysis and modeling peer effects. The course builds on the models that the students leant in the Mathematical Models in Economics course and gets the students to apply and extend them to more advanced situations, such as the application of game theory in a dynamic context using evolutionary logic for defining equilibria. Additionally, students are also introduced to concepts and tools that are not taught in a traditional microeconomics course, such as using graph theory to analyze networks of people or firms, which are very relevant in current microeconomic research. The course is ideal for students who want to continue on to do economics research, either as part of a PhD or otherwise, after completing the Masters programme.

Applied Multivariate Analysis (Elective)

Data in most disciplines such as economics, sociology, and political science to name a few, are multidimensional in nature. For example in field surveys to assess the main dimensions of challenges faced in accessing a government programme, different data pertaining to demographic details, socio-economic profile, preferences etc would be collected for respondents. In financial markets, stock market assets, observed simultaneously exhibit joint movement, which then affects the overall index of the market. To understand consumption behaviour of individuals, numerous variables ranging from income to expenditure on a diverse basket of goods are collected to understand the variations of consumption across caste, gender, class, and geography. In each of the above examples, one can think of each measured variable as an additional dimension, and therefore many variables corresponds to data sitting in a high dimensional space. Such variables also tend to be highly dependent. The most basic phenomenon of dependence is that of correlation – the tendency of quantities to vary together: tall parents tend to have tall children. Understanding and extracting structures of dependence in higher dimensions requires sophiscated mathematical machinery. This course aims to introduce the students to concepts and techniques of summarising, visualising the geometry, and analysing such dependent, multivariate data. Each technique has a set of assumptions and so the methods can be applied to a wide array of settings where the assumptions on the data hold. Minimally, the course aims to discuss the following topics: Theory of Multivariate Normal Distributions, Multivariate Central Limit Theorem, Techniques such as Principal Component Analysis, Factor Analysis, Clustering Methods, Classification techniques, and Bootstrapping and Cross Validation for model selection.

Money, Banking and Financial Markets (Elective)

This course is a survey of Money, Banking and Financial Institutions that are necessary for practical engagement in the world of finance. Topics include the role of money, the functions of the financial system, the determination of interest rates and asset returns, balance sheets, foreign exchange markets and exchange rates, the conduct and instruments of monetary policy and mechanisms of transmission of monetary policy. This course additionally explores the economics of payment systems and money market as well as the particular institutions of the Indian Economy.

Feminist Economics (Elective)

Feminist Economics gives an introduction and overview of major areas of work in the field of feminist economics. Feminist Economics arose in the 1970s in response to the inability of neoclassical economics to adequately understand or explain gender inequality which in turn has important economic outcomes. Feminist economics, located within the tradition of political economy, makes a number of important departures from neoclassical economics in terms of areas of focus, tools of analysis, methodology and methods. Feminist economics started from challenging the androcentric assumptions behind neoclassical economics and has moved into gender analysis in areas that were previously excluded from accepted knowledge. Feminist economics has expanded the field of vision within economics to now include unpaid work, cooperation, care and conflict in relationships that all influence how our economy functions, distribution and well-being.

History of Economic Thought (Elective)

Where do the current theories of ‘modern’ economics come from? If current theories had a definite historical beginning, what schools of thought did they supplant? Are there alternative or dissident views which subsist alongside mainstream economics today? This course seeks to answer such questions. And, in doing so, it provides an overview of the development of classical (the surplus approach) and marginalist (the scarcity approach) economic theories—notably their respective theories of value and distribution, and theories of output and growth—from the seventeenth century to the present.


Selection process

The section process includes the National Entrance Test and Personal Interview.

Step 1: National Entrance Test:

Entrance test structure
Part Section No of Questions Question Type Time
Part 1 Microeconomics 10 Multiple choice 2 hours
Macroeconomics 10 Multiple choice
Quantitative methods 10 Multiple choice
Indian Economy & Political Economy 10 Multiple choice
Total Questions 40 Multiple choice
Part 2 Essay Question 1 2 out of 2 questions to be attempted 1 hour

Click here to download Entrance test guide

Click here to download sample question paper


Step 2: Personal Interview

The students shortlisted based on the National Entrance Test score will be called for an interaction with faculty members.

Timelines
Admission process Regular Round
Last date to apply 22nd Feb 2021
Entrance test date 21st Mar 2021
Interview process 19th Apr 2021 -10th May 2021
Interview results Last week of May 2021
Academic session starts Mid of Aug 2021

Faculty

Alex M. Thomas
Ph.D. in Economics (University of Sydney)
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Amit Basole
PhD in Economics University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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Anand Shrivastava
PhD in Economics University of Cambridge
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Anjor Bhaskar
MSc in Economics University of Warwick
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Arjun Jayadev
PhD in Economics University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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Deepti Goel
PhD in Economics Boston University
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Kade Finnoff
PhD in Economics University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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Meghana Rao
PhD in Sociolegal Studies University of Toronto
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Rajendran Narayanan
Ph.D in Statistics Cornell University
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Rahul De
PhD in Economics University of Hyderabad
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Surbhi Kesar
Ph.D in Economics South Asian University
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Faculty videos

Meet our Faculty | Amit Basole

Meet our Faculty | Anand Shrivastava

Meet our Faculty | Alex Thomas



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