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ES30038: Public choice

[Page last updated: 02 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Economics
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: EX 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Examination (EX 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Requisites: Before taking this module you must take ES20011
Learning Outcomes: At the end of the unit students should be able to:
* Apply microeconomic theory to explain and predict the behaviour of those participating in collective decision-making processes;
* Understand and apply criteria that can be used to determine whether collective decision-making processes are successful;
* Assess the potential impact on policy of reliance on particular voting rules; Explain why public policy might differ systematically from policy prescribed with reference to the normative criteria of 'efficiency' and 'equity'.

Aims: This course builds on intermediate microeconomics and applies microeconomic methods to problems of collective decision making. The course provides an introduction to the field of public choice by studying reasons for collective choice and introduces models how policy makers and governments and make decisions. Students will become familiar with the way microeconomic theory can be applied to analyse the incentives and motivations of those who participate in collective choice (e.g. voters, politicians, bureaucrats). More reference on stream of public economics in second year.

Skills: The following are facilitated and assessed: abstract reasoning; information synthesis; diagrammatic skills; writing skills; numeracy skills.

Content: The course unit begins with a review of welfare economics and the rationale for action by government. Comparisons are made of market and government solutions when there are externalities and when there are public goods. Processes for achieving 'optimal' solutions by collective action are evaluated. Voting rules are analysed and appraised. The impact of politicians, bureaucrats and interest groups are assessed when explaining reliance on particular policy instruments.

Programme availability:

ES30038 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Economics
  • UHES-AFB03 : BSc(Hons) Economics (Year 3)
  • UHES-AAB03 : BSc(Hons) Economics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-AKB03 : BSc(Hons) Economics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHES-AFB04 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Mathematics (Year 3)
  • UHES-AAB04 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Mathematics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Mathematics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHES-ACB04 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Mathematics with Combined Placement and Study Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics (Year 3)
  • UHES-AAB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-AKB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHES-ACB01 : BSc(Hons) Economics and Politics with Combined Placement and Study Abroad (Year 4)
  • UHES-ACB03 : BSc(Hons) Economics with Combined Placement and Study Abroad (Year 4)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.