Public Economics (L1091)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module provides you with a broad understanding of the scope of public economics – the role played by the government in the economy. The focus is on the rationale for government intervention and the existence of the public sector. The module will address questions such as when should health or education be provided by the state or privately, should the government intervene in individuals pension and savings decisions.

The module will combine theoretical and empirical approaches. The first part of the module will begin by introducing the welfare-theoretic foundations of government intervention, the theory of externalities, sources of market failure, public goods, information failure and incomplete markets.

The module will then develop the theory of public choice and political economy, the theory of taxation and social insurance. The final part of the module will examine specific examples of government interventions, eg healthcare, education, pensions, savings etc. In each field the module will also consider new behavioural considerations in understanding individual responses.


67%: Lecture
33%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Presentation)
70%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 36 hours of contact time and 114 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: