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BU4630 Economic Policy and Business History

(15 ECTS credits)


Professor Frank Barry

Module Content/Outline

This course provides students with a broad overview (i) of the business history of Ireland since independence in 1922 and (ii) of the economic policies and world conditions that serve as backdrop to developments in Irish business. Students will conduct a major research project on the characteristics and evolution of a particular sub-sector of the Irish economy, with a particular focus on the leading firms. The research this year will be concentrated on the services segment of the economy (as distinct from manufacturing, construction, agriculture etc.): services account for the vast bulk of employment in modern economies.

Learning Objectives

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
• Identify the key national and international developments that impact on the evolution of firms and sectors;
• Analyse how different economic policies impact on the evolution of firms and sectors;
• Analyse how different firms strategise to maximise the benefits or minimise the costs of changes in economic policy and in the legal, political, national and global economic environments.

Recommended Texts/Key Reading

Required textbooks: None

Recommended Reading:

Readings pertaining to the lectures will be posted on the class website.

Useful background material, for those who desire it, is contained in:

  • K. Kennedy, T. Giblin and D. McHugh (1988) The Economic Development of Ireland in the Twentieth Century;
  • C. Ó Gráda (1997) A Rocky Road: The Irish Economy Since the 1920s;
  • Bielenberg and R. Ryan (2013) An Economic History of Ireland Since Independence.

Readings specific to the research project will depend on the sub-sector to be investigated and will differ for each student. 


Each student will undertake a major research project on a topic that falls within the remit of the course.  The individual essay  topics will be allocated by the course lecturer (though students will have some choice over the sub-sector to be investigated).

For full-year students, a preliminary report will be due by the end of the first semester and the final project will be due one week before the end of the course.  The project counts for 75 percent of the course mark. 

At the end of each semester there will be a short test on the material covered in lectures. These tests are worth 10 percent each (20 percent of the course mark in total).  The remaining 5 percent of the course mark will be awarded for minor assignments set in the first semester.

There is no end-of-year examination for this course.  

For one-semester students, marks are allocated as follows: 75 percent for the research project, 20 percent for the first-semester test and 5 percent for minor assignments.

(This course will not be open to one-semester students entering in the second semester.)