ECON30190 Public Economics: Government Spending, Taxation and Public Choice

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module is designed to acquaint students with key issues in public economics. The central question of the course is "How does the government intervene in the market economy and why?" The course will cover many important aspects of public policy, such as taxation, provision of public goods, public insurance and externalities It covers both theoretical contributions (second best theories, voting models, welfare grounds of inequality and poverty measures, theories of optimal income and commodity taxation) and empirical applications/examples are also provided.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

After completing this module students should be able to: 1. apply the the concepts of efficiency and equity as well as the two fundamental welfare theorems in a simple exchange economy. 2. explain the roles for the public sector that can be justified on efficiency grounds (correction of market failures due to externalities, public goods, imperfect competition, information asymmetry) 3. explain the roles of the state justified on equity grounds (welfare economics); describe the main poverty and inequality indices; describe the main results of optimal taxation 4. apply the theoretical concepts to analyse policies in the real world.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; continuous assessment through online tests 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

ECON 20010 Intermediate Microeconomics

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: A series of online MCQ tests to be completed on Brightspace. Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: 2 hour exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Assignment: Group essay Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the online tests will be provided automatically after each test has been closed. Individual feedback is available on demand during office hours. For the group essays, general written feedback is provided after the submission of the essays. Individual feedback is available on demand during office hours.

The course is based on the textbook "Public Finance and Public Policy" by Jonathan Gruber, published by Macmillan. The book is currently in its sixth edition, but students can also use earlier editions.