module specification

EC6008S - Public Economics (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Public Economics
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Unseen Examination 70%   End-of-semester exam (1.5 hours)
Coursework 30%   Individual essay (2000 words) and seminar presentation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module examines specific policy areas in public economics such as the economics of health, education, social insurance/pensions and poverty alleviation. Further, it covers some recent developments in public and welfare economics which include the economics of giving, altruism and reciprocity, the economics of happiness and social economics.

Prior learning requirements

EC5006 Microeconomics or EC5001 Business Economics or equivalent

Module aims

The module aims to provide students with:

  1. a systematic knowledge and understanding of public economics, including a critical awareness of current issues in the subject and the available evidence;
  2. an ability to apply economic principles and analysis in a variety of contexts including in business and government;
  3. a range of transferable and subject-specific skills that will be of value in employment and self-employment;
  4. an appreciation of the economic dimension of wider social, regional and political issues.

It also aims to develop students' skills, in particular: literacy; academic study skills; applied analysis; critical thinking; problem solving; communication, including oral presentation; and quantitative analysis.


Social choice
The welfare state I: health
The welfare state II: education
The welfare state III: social insurance and pensions
Poverty and Inequality, Income redistribution
Social economics: economics of giving, altruism and reciprocity, happiness, norms, social capital, trust; implications for public economics.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is structured around three hours of weekly contact time with the students. The three hours of contact time are structured as follows:
Integrated Lecture/workshop – two hours per week. The lecture will discuss the week’s topic by presenting the main theoretical analysis. Lecture materials will be available on Weblearn. In the Spring Term, lectures will be partitioned into two sections of one hour each. In the first section, a formal lecture will be delivered. The second section will be more workshop oriented with greater student discussion and participation.
Tutorial - one hour per week. The tutorial will go through problem sets available on WebLearn. Students are expected to prepare for these tutorials and will lead the presentation of answers to the problems and subsequent discussion. Unseen in-class tests (weeks 8 and 24) will take place during these tutorial sessions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a broad knowledge and a systematic understanding of public economics covering theory, policy and application;
  2. provide analyse of specific aspects of the role of state in providing key public goods, such as health, education and social insurance/pensions;
  3. analyse other roles of the state such as providing income redistribution and alleviating poverty;
  4. review aspects of social behaviour, integrate them into traditional economic analysis and consider what those imply for the analyses and results of public economics;
  5. marshall evidence and assimilate, structure, analyse and evaluate qualitative and quantitative data to understand and critically evaluate policy issues in the subject.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed by a 90-minute unseen end-of-semester test and by an essay that is initially presented in a seminar. The essay is to be written up after the seminar and handed in before the end of the semester.


Hindriks, J. and Myles. G.D. (2006). Intermediate Public Economics, MIT Press
Gruber, J. (2011). Public Finance and Public Policy, 3rd ed., Worth Publishers (Macmillan)
Stiglitz, J. (2000). Economics of the Public Sector, 3rd ed., W. W. Norton & Co.
Cullis, J. and Ph. Jones (2009), “Public Finance and Public Choice: Analytical Perspectives”, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press
Barr, N. (2012), “Economics of the Welfare State”, 5th ed., Oxford University Press