Lionel Robbins (1898–1984) is best known to economists for his Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (1932 and 1935). To the wider public he is well known for the 'Robbins Report' of the 1960s on Higher Education, which recommended a major expansion of university education in Britain. However, throughout his academic career – at Oxford and the London School of Economics in the 1920s, and as Professor of Economics at the School from 1929 to 1961 – he was renowned as an exceptionally gifted teacher. Generations of students remember his lectures for their clarity and comprehensiveness and for his infectious enthusiasm for his subject.

Besides his famous graduate seminar his most important and influential courses at LSE were the Principles of Economic Analysis, which he gave in the 1930s and again in the late 1940s and 1950s, as well as the History of Economic Thought, from 1953 until long after his official retirement. This book publishes for the first time the manuscript notes Robbins used for his lectures on the Principles of Economic Analysis from 1929/30 to 1934/40. At the outset of his career he took the advice of a senior colleague to prepare his lectures by writing them out fully before he presented them; the full notes for most of his pre-war lectures survive and are eminently decipherable.

Since he made two major revisions of the lectures in the 1930s the Principles notes show both the development of his own thought and the way he incorporated the major theoretical innovations made by younger economists at LSE, such as John Hicks and Nicholas Kaldor, or elsewhere, notably Joan Robinson. He intended to turn his lecture notes into a book, abandoning the project only when he was asked to chair the Committee on Higher Education in 1960. This volume is not exactly the book he wanted to write, but it is a unique record of what was taught to senior undergraduate and graduate economists in those 'years of high theory'. It will be of interest to all economists interested in the development of economics in the twentieth century. 

part I 1929–31|177 pages


chapter 1|6 pages

The framework of economic analysis

chapter 2|7 pages

The conception of equilibrium

section |110 pages

General outline of equilibrium analysis

chapter 3|7 pages

Equilibrium of simple exchange

chapter 5|8 pages

Equilibrium of multiple exchange

chapter 6|7 pages

Equilibrium of production

Factors fixed

chapter 7|8 pages

Equilibrium of production

Factors fixed (continued)

chapter 8|8 pages


Factors flexible

chapter 9|9 pages


Factors flexible: labour supply (continued)

chapter 10|7 pages

Equilibrium of production

Factors flexible: material factors

chapter 11|9 pages

Equilibrium of production

Factors flexible: material factors (continued)

chapter 13|9 pages

The supply of material factors (continued)

chapter 14|7 pages

Supply of material factors (continued)

chapter 15|8 pages

General review of equilibrium theory

section |51 pages

Special topics

chapter 16|7 pages

Consumers surplus

chapter 17|9 pages

The laws of returns

chapter 18|5 pages

Returns and costs

chapter 19|7 pages


Definitions and the conditions of equilibrium

chapter 20|7 pages


The supply curve and variations in demand

chapter 21|6 pages

Rent, quasi rent and costs

chapter 22|8 pages


part II 1932/33–1934/35|27 pages


chapter 1|1 pages

Preliminary injunctions

chapter 2|2 pages

The nature of economic analysis

chapter 3|4 pages

The divisions of equilibrium analysis

section |17 pages

General outline of equilibrium analysis

chapter 4|3 pages

Valuation and exchange

Individual disposition of goods

chapter 5|4 pages

Valuation and exchange

Simple exchange

chapter 6|1 pages


Introduction 1

chapter 7|1 pages


Factors fixed (acapitalistic)

chapter 8|1 pages

Capitalistic production

chapter 9|1 pages

The theory of interest

chapter 10|4 pages

The theory of capital

part III 1935/36–1939/40|122 pages


chapter 1|2 pages

The development of scientific economics

chapter 2|2 pages

19th century economics

chapter 4|5 pages

Ends and means

section |82 pages


chapter 5|3 pages

Valuation and exchange


chapter 6|13 pages

Individual valuation

chapter 7|7 pages

Exchange continued

Barter between two individuals

chapter 8|5 pages

Valuation and exchange

Multiple exchange

chapter 9|3 pages


Factors fixed: simple

chapter 10|8 pages


Non competing groups

chapter 11|2 pages

Joint production

Fixed coefficients

chapter 12|5 pages

Joint production

The laws of returns

chapter 13|5 pages

Joint production

chapter 14|4 pages


chapter 15|2 pages

Monopoly and distribution

chapter 16|3 pages

Complex production (continued)

Joint supply

chapter 17|3 pages

Complex production


chapter 18|4 pages

Capitalist production


chapter 19|2 pages

Time preference

chapter 20|2 pages

Capitalistic production

Conditions of equilibrium

chapter 21|5 pages

Equilibrium capitalist production

chapter 22|2 pages


Labour supply

chapter 23|2 pages

The theory of rent

section |21 pages

Comparative Statics

chapter 24|5 pages

Differences in demand for particular commodities

(a) commodity price 1

chapter 25|2 pages

Differences in demand for particular commodities

(b) factor prices

chapter 26|4 pages

Differences 1 in conditions of supply

(a) differences 2 in commodity supply

chapter 27|3 pages

Differences 1 in conditions of supply

(b) differences 2 in commodity supply continued

chapter 28|2 pages

Comparative statics


chapter 29|2 pages

Comparative statics

Changes in factor supply: labour

chapter 30|1 pages

Comparative statics

Differences in capital supply

section |4 pages


chapter |2 pages

Final editorial note