EC314-Public Economics

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: EC201 Intermediate Microeconomics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Vivien Burrows


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module provides students with the opportunity to explore the rationale for government intervention in the economy and what the role of the government should be, and to analyse a wide range of policy issues.

The module aims to examine the rationale for government intervention in the economy. The first part of the module will look at the justification for and limitations of government intervention in the economy, combining microeconomic theory with applications to contemporary policy issues. The second part of the module will focus on the revenue side and analyse some of the principles involved in tax design and the equity and efficiency implications of taxation.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module students should be able to:
(1) understand the main justifications for and the limitations of government intervention in a
market economy;
(2) use economic theory to analyse public policy issues and compare the outcomes of alternative policies;
(3) describe the means used to finance government programmes and their economic implications;
(4) contribute to the contemporary debates concerning the capabilities and limitations of the government against the market sector.

Additional outcomes:
Students will have the opportunity to further develop their oral and written communication skills through classroom discussions and written assignments.

Outline content:

Topics to be covered include: theories of the public sector; state ownership, privatisation and regulation; healthcare; social insurance; taxation and deficit financing. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures will be used to introduce and discuss the material. Students are expected to prepare for lectures by reading the suggested literature and to actively participate in classroom discussions. Office hours are available for students to consult the lecturer on an individual basis.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 22
Guided independent study 170 8
Total hours by term 192.00 8.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Set exercise 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two written assignments due in the Autumn term: one 1,500 word assignment due in the middle of the autumn term (worth 20%) and one 2,000 word assignment due at the end of the autumn term (worth 30%).

One set exercise (take-home exam) worth 50% due at the beginning of the Spring term (week 1).

For visiting students in Reading for the autumn term only who wish to earn full credits, an alternative written assignment may be set in place of the take-home exam if students are unable to complete the take-home exam. 

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A minimum overall mark of 40%.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination for all modules takes place in August of the same academic year. Re-assessment is by coursework only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 October 2018


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