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SP50319: Public policy and economics

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2019/0
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Further information on credits Credits: 12      [equivalent to 24 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 240
Further information on unit levels Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Academic Year
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 60%, EX 20%, OR 20%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • "Seen Examination" 20% (EX 20%)
  • Group Presentation During Residential 20% (OR 20%)
  • 2000 Word Policy Brief 60% (CW 60%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
This unit is oriented to students with no necessary previous economics training and offers
* Introduction to key concepts used in the economic analysis of public policy.
* Review and interpretation of the key approaches and tools typically used in the economic analysis of public policy.
* Wide-ranging review and in-depth analysis of key economic issues in transnational and national government spheres that shape public policy, applied to specific areas of contemporary public policy.

Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this unit, students will have
* robust understanding of key economic concepts, their application and relevance to diverse areas of public policy. (T/A)
* in-depth understanding of how economics of public policy and public finances shape the framing and practicability of policy choices and modes of delivery. (T/F/A)
* Wide-ranging understanding of key contemporary economic issues and their implications for the development of public policy in a range of national and transnational settings. (T/F/A)

At the end of this unit, students will be able to
* give an economic account and evaluation of government interventions and policies;
* understand and critically assess public policy debates with a grounding in economic analysis.
Professional/practice skills
* critically read and explain range of economic data and evaluate its relevance to an area of public policy.
* Select, apply, and assess key tools of economic analysis and their relevance to specific cases.
* Collate and communicate complex research and analysis for presentation to diverse policy audiences.
* Apply concepts and tools to empirical analysis of specific.
* Work collaboratively in small groups, to short deadlines.

The unit has three main blocks. The first of these is introductory and designed to familiarise students with conceptual tools relevant to economic analysis of public policy, that are explored and applied in the substantive remainder of the unit.
1. Core Economic Concepts: The first sub-unit will introduce core economic concepts and their application to topics in public policy. These core concepts will include micro- and macro-economic concepts, such as: incentives, opportunity cost, market failure, risk aversion, time discounting, generational implicit contracts, productivity and human capital theory.
2. Government Finance and Intervention: As part of the residential the second sub-unit will start to discuss the economics of public policy using and assessing these concepts and tools.
* Taxation, Government Debt and Generational Contracts.
* Government provision, regulation and its economic rationales: 'market failure', equity, efficiency.
The approach is both theoretical and applied with students being asked to assess arguments for and against new policy initiatives across areas: such as taxation, social security, labour markets, education, health and housing, etc. Examples would be a tax on sugar, rent controls, charges for seeing a GP, outlawing tobacco, and will include quantitative economic data and comparative cases. The residential will also introduce students to critical readings of public budgets in a range of settings.
3. Key Economic Challenges: This introduces students to the analysis and critique of key economic challenges and debates, and includes quantitative and comparative analysis. This will cover five topic areas in any year but the set of topics will evolve to cover current debates and decisions. Examples would be technological change, productivity and jobs around computerisation and artificial intelligence, international labour migration, optimal currency areas and free trade agreements, labour market regulation (e.g. National Living Wage), inequality and social mobility and reducing carbon emissions.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

SP50319 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences