University of Sydney (B.Ec., 1932)
Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1934; M. A., 1939)
Butlin was awarded a public exhibition in 1928 and enrolled in economics at the University of Sydney (B.Ec., 1932). After being awarded many travelling scholarships, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1934; M.A., 1939), where he gained the following accolades: Economics (first place, high distinction), English (second place, high distinction), the Frank Albert Prize for general proficiency and the Chamber of Commerce Prize for the best degree pass.
Butlin pioneered the historical study of Australian money and banking according to rigorous professional standards. He was a member of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Sydney from 1935 and accepted a personal chair at The Australian University in 1971, where he finished his working career.
He is the author and co-author of several seminal works in the fields of economics and history, including:
- Foundations of the Australian Monetary System 1788–1851 — S. J. Butlin (Melbourne, 1953)
- 'Australia in the War of 1939-1945 : Volume III — War Economy, 1939–1942' — S. J. Butlin (1955)
- 'Australia in the War of 1939-1945 : Volume IV — War Economy, 1942–1945' — S. J. Butlin and C. B. Schedvin (1977)
- 'Australia and New Zealand Bank' — S. J. Butlin (1961)
- 'The Australian Monetary System, 1851–1914' — S. J. Butlin [published posthumously by his daughter] (Sydney, 1986)
An influential figure at the University of Sydney in the l950s and 1960s, he was a confidant of the vice-chancellor (Sir) Stephen Roberts. Butlin was a member of the senate (1963-67), chairman of the appointments board (1954-55, 1958-61) and of the Social Science Research Council of Australia (1958-62), president of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand (1953-54), a member of the Round Table group, and a founder and deputy chairman (1962-77) of Sydney University Press. As a chairman, he allowed committees free rein and then pulled the discussion together in a few, crisp sentences.