ECM184-Economics of Public Policy

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

Module Convenor: Prof Giovanni Razzu


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module introduces and examines key economic tools for the analysis of public policy. Threshold concepts and tools will be applied to and illustrated through a range of public policy problems. Seminars will enable and further prepare students to apply critical analysis to current public policy issues.

The aim of the module is to provide students with key micro- and macro-economic tools used to analyse and evaluate public policies. Policies will be examined according to efficiency, equity and practicality criteria with seminar time devoted to debating the meaning, measurement and relative importance of these criteria under different assumptions, global perspectives and economic systems.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module, students should:
•have developed an understanding of key economic tools and concepts employed in economic analysis of public policy;
•be able to identify and critique key assumptions associated with the economic tools and concepts;
•be able to analyse and evaluate alternative policy outcomes against different evaluation criteria (efficiency, equity and practicality).

Additional outcomes:
Strengthen students' understanding of how economic analysis informs public policy; develop debating and analytical writing skills; present a coherent argument orally and in writing on topics in public economics; introduction to global perspectives and socio-culturally contingent understanding of evaluation criteria.

Outline content:
Following an introduction to the meaning of policy analysis and economic principles and standards of ethics for decision making a selection of topics from the following list will be covered:
•Foundations of microeconomics of public policy, including efficiency, imperfect markets and the role of government;
•Economic tools for public policy, including cost-benefit analysis;
•Risk, uncertainty and economic impact analysis;
•Public revenue, taxation and accounting;
•Financial regulation;
•Key macroeconomic policy issues;
•Economic schools and thought and policy implications;
•Global macroeconomic issues;
•Institutions, interests and behaviour.

Global context:
Many public policy challenges are common to governments across the globe - use of international case studies in lectures and seminars will enrich the understanding of key tools and concepts.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures will be devoted to formally covering the main module material and to introducing theoretical tools. Seminars will be used to explore key concepts and tools in practice and develop a global perspective of criteria for evaluation of public policies. Attendance at seminars is compulsory. Students are expected to prepare for seminars and actively contribute to discussions and debate as students’ experience, prior learning and cultural context will form an essential part of broadening the perspective of the assessable learning outcomes. Lecture slides and additional teaching material (news articles, BBC/ABC podcasts and academic articles) will be posted on blackboard. Assessment is by coursework only and feedback on coursework will form an integral part of the learning process.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 8
Tutorials 8
Guided independent study 164
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Project output other than dissertation 30
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

A class test will be undertaken during the autumn term with the aim to assess elements of the material covered in lectures.  This test carries a weighting of 20%.


Students will also undertake a 4,000 written assignment, choosing between two options, one microeconomics and one macroeconomics, which will carry a weight of 50%.


Students’ knowledge of policy analysis will be tested by a project/exercise (eg a cost benefit analysis, impact assessment, etc) which carries a weight of 30%.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A minimum weighted average coursework mark of 50%.

Reassessment arrangements:
Reassessment will be by submission of an essay written on a different topic by the last working day of August of the same year.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 April 2018


Things to do now