A 5 Module Course in Classical Liberal Ideas

A 5 module course in classical liberal ideas run by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs  (IDEAs)


In an effort to produce a group of open-minded individuals who can advance classical liberal ideas in Malaysia and thereby expand the network IDEAs ran a 5 module course on alternate Saturdays targeting 30 students and young professionals.  They were delighted to have 90 applications for 30 places which made them realise the scope for many more of these programs.


Wan Saiful, CEO of IDEAs leading a discussion




IDEAS Proposal for Modular Student Course on “Liberalism in the world and in Malaysia”

Date: 29 June 2014

Owing to the growth in the interest among students to explore liberal ideas, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) believe that the time is ripe to develop series of classes on liberalism complete with proper reading materials, assessment and at the end the issuance of a certificate those who completed the course.


The ultimate aim for this course is to produce a group open-minded, classical liberal-leaning individuals that can aid in advancing classical liberal ideas in Malaysia. There is also the indirect benefit of expanding our network and creating new friends and allies that could assist IDEAS in our future plans.

We hope that these classes will lead to a creation of a new generation of liberals who will continue the fight for liberty in Malaysia. At the very least, this will go a long way in encouraging open discourse on the topic of freedom.


We aim to begin the programme in September 2014 onwards as Malaysian university students will return to their respective institutions of higher learning. While students may have more free time during the semester break in July-August, most of them will be back in their hometown with the exception of those who are natives of Kuala Lumpur. In choosing September, we hope to give those from out of Kuala Lumpur a chance to participate.


The course will be divided in to several modules. Each module will be taught over 1-2 sessions, with each session lasting around 1.5 hours. We have two options for delivery:

Option 1: The sessions will be conducted over an interval of 2-3 weeks apart, very likely on weekends or evenings. In total, the course will take about 5-7 months.

Option 2: We will run a full day class on Saturdays, covering a whole module.  This will allow the full course to be delivered over a shorter period.

The actual delivery method will be decided based on availability of teachers and venue.


We target to award 15-20 students and young professionals with a certificate of successful completion.  To get this number, we will open our classes to as many students as possible.  Only those who complete all classes and pass the exam will receive a certificate.

We will employ suitable academics as our lecturers.  They will be paid and they will be responsible to develop the content.  We will also employ (part-time) a Senior Fellow to run this programme, most likely Dr Maszlee Malik, Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia.  He will be responsible to identify and recruit other suitable lecturers.  And he will also be responsible to conduct the assessment for the course.


Course outline

Module One: Introduction to Politics


  1. Introducing Politics.
  • Politics as a social science subject
  • Key elements of politics: ideas, behaviour, institutions and policy processes
  • Identifying state forms and functions
  • State-citizen relationships


  1. Key Concepts in Politics.
  • The relationship between power and authority
  • Identifying and classifying rights and freedoms
  • Equality as a key element of justice


Module two: Political ideologies and Modern State


  1. Political Ideas and the Modern State.
  • Idea of the ‘social contract’ and rise of the liberal state
  • Collectivism, social provision and the liberal-democratic state
  • Marx and the capitalist state


  1. Political Ideologies and Movements of the Left.
  • Marxism and communism
  • Social democracy and reformism
  • Nationalism and national liberation
  • Collectivism and state intervention
  • Feminism


  1. Political Ideologies and Movements of the Right.
  • Conservatism
  • Fascism and National Socialism
  • Neo-fascism
  • Neo-liberalism


Module Three: Government & Policy Making system


  1. Government and Governmental Systems.
  • Centralised and devolved systems of government
  • Legislative systems and representation
  • Constitutions
  • Leadership in government


  1. Policy-making and Implementation.
  • The notion of ‘governance’ in public administration
  • Models for decision-making
  • Management processes and policy implementation


Module Four: Political Economy


  1. Economics versus Political Economy: What’s in a name?
  • Capitalism: Our economic system
  • Where does capitalism come from?
  • Rise and Fall of the Welfare State
  • Neoliberalism


  1. Ideologues of Political Economy
  • Adam Smith
  • David Ricardo
  • Karl Marx
  • John Maynard Keynes
  • Neoclassical Economics


Module Five: Political Economy


  1. The Market System
  • Supply and Demand
  • The “Invisible Hand”
  • Markets versus “The Market”
  • Fictitious commodities: Land, labor and money


  1. Competition and investment
  • Role of competition
  • Competition and the profit motive
  • Investment, overinvestment and underinvestment
  • Centralization and decentralization (subcontracting) of production


  1. Government
  • Role of Government in the Economy
  • Taxation
  • Spending
  • Class conflict and government


Assessment Method

Participants will be assessed twice, first halfway through the course and second at the end of the course. This will be a combination of courseworks and sit-down exam. A Certificate will be awarded to those who passed the assessments.

Posted in Countries, Malaysia.

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