ECON30190 Public Economics: Government Spending, Taxation and Public Choice

Academic Year 2024/2025

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. Provide an historical perspective on the size of the state, and on the level of and trends in inequality;
2. Understand and demonstrate the First and Second Welfare Theorems as applied to a simple exchange economy;
3. Discuss the efficiency costs (e.g. deadweight losses) and incidence (statutory versus economic) of taxation;
4. Justify the role of the state on efficiency grounds (e.g. correction of market failures due to externalities, public good provision, adverse selection);
5. Justify the role of the state on equity grounds (e.g. concave social welfare, risk aversion);
6. Describe the main results of optimal taxation;
7. Apply the theoretical concepts to analyze 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
Assignment(Including Essay): A series of take-home problem sets. n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Exam (In-person): Final exam n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Quizzes/Short Exercises: A series of six in-class pop quizzes. Each quiz will take a few minutes, and your highest five scores will count towards your grade. 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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Continuous assessment will be graded on a Check/Check plus/Check minus scale. Check Plus implies the submission is entirely complete and correct, possibly with very minor errors. Check implies the submission is very substantially complete and correct. Check Minus implies there are noteworthy deficiencies (e.g. failure to complete instructions, mathematical mistakes) in the submission.

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.
Name Role
Biniyam Gezahegn Worku Tutor