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Unit information: Public Economics in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Public Economics
Unit code EFIM30034
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Pawel Doligalski
Open unit status Not open

EFIM20008 Intermediate Economics 1 and either EFIM20011 Econometrics or EFIM 20010 Applied Quantitative Research Methods



School/department School of Economics
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit focuses on government intervention in the economy. We will discuss reasons for intervention, available instruments and optimal policies. The core of the unit is theoretical, but for many of the problems (especially those related to taxation and redistribution) students will be provided with a data driven perspective as well.

Topics covered:

  • Government intervention due to market failures: externalities; asymmetric information; public goods
  • Taxation and redistribution: taxation of commodities; taxation of labor and capital income; unemployment insurance

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able:

  • To use economic theory to understand the reasons for government intervention;
  • To synthesise economic theory and empirical information to derive the optimal government policy;
  • To evaluate government policies currently in place.

Teaching details

Lectures: 16 hours

Classes: 8 one-hour classes

Revision and additional lectures: revision and supplementary material (sometimes in enhancement week)

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment will consist of problem-solving and essay questions, marked by the class tutor and returned with feedback.

In line with the department’s policy of augmenting traditional formative assessment with electronic assessment, formative assessment may be supplemented with small online quizzes or other electronic resources.

Summative Assessment

Two and a half hour closed-book exam (100%). The exam will consist of problem-solving and essay questions covering the whole content of the unit. This assess all intended learning outcomes.

Reading and References

Hindriks and Myles Intermediate Public Economics (MIT Press)

Atkinson and Stiglitz Lectures in Public Economics (Princeton)