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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Economics : Economics

Undergraduate Course: Policy Evaluation for Public Economics (ECNM10084)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Economics CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn this course we will develop the tools necessary to evaluate policies related to Public Economics. For each topic considered, we combine a theoretical understanding of the economic problem with the evaluation of a related policy. The policy evaluations are drawn from academic journal articles and are chosen to highlight a set of econometric methods for programme evaluation used by economists. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches to estimating the effect of a policy. Topics are drawn from throughout Public Economics.
Course description The course draws on many areas of Public Economics with possible topics on Public Goods, Externalities, Economics of Education, Poverty and Income Redistribution, and Income Tax and Behaviour, among others. In each case, we will begin with a theoretical discussion of the economic problem followed by an analysis of a related policy. Possible empirical applications include estimating the effectiveness of driving bans in urban areas to reduce pollution, determining the willingness to pay for school infrastructure investment, estimating the labour supply response to transfer programmes, and the response to class-size reduction policies in schools. Throughout, we place an emphasis on the potential unintended consequences of a policy. The econometric methods used build on a regression framework and focus on the challenges of estimating the causal effect of a policy in non-experimental settings. The course is taught through a programme of lectures. Learning-by-doing, through exercise sets, is an important ingredient of the course. Students also complete an independent policy evaluation essay drawing on academic journal articles. It provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate their skills to use economic theory and econometric methods to analyse real-world problems.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Essentials of Econometrics (ECNM10052) AND Topics in Microeconomics (ECNM10070)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have an equivalent of at least 4 semester-long Economics courses at grade B or above for entry to this course. This MUST INCLUDE courses in Intermediate Macroeconomics (with calculus); Intermediate Microeconomics (with calculus); Probability and Statistics; and Introductory Econometrics. If macroeconomics and microeconomics courses are not calculus-based, then, in addition, Calculus (or Mathematics for Economics) is required.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A knowledge and understanding of key economic issues in the analysis of taxation, public expenditure and the relationship between public and private provision of different classes of goods and services, including theoretical models and empirical evidence, along with associated mathematical and statistical techniques, implications of those models and a deeper understanding of recent research activity in some more specialised areas.
  2. Research and investigative skills such as problem framing and solving and the ability to assemble and evaluate complex evidence and arguments.
  3. Communication skills in order to critique, create and communicate understanding and to collaborate with and relate to others.
  4. Personal effectiveness through task-management, time-management, teamwork and group interaction, dealing with uncertainty and adapting to new situations, personal and intellectual autonomy through independent learning.
  5. Practical/technical skills such as, modelling skills (abstraction, logic, succinctness), qualitative and quantitative analysis and general IT literacy.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Inquiry
B1. The ability to identify, define and analyse theoretical and applied economic problems and identify or devise approaches to investigate and solve these problems.
B3. The ability to critically assess existing understanding of economic and social issues, the limitations of that understanding and the limitations of their own knowledge and understanding of those issues.
B4. The ability to question the principles, methods, standards and boundaries of economic knowledge

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
C1. The ability to be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning, and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement.
C4. The ability to collaborate and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views.

D1. The ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, create and communicate understanding.
D2. The ability to further their own learning through effective use of feedback.
D3. The ability to use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others.

Personal Effectiveness
E1. The ability to manage tasks and also skills in time-management.
E4. The ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking.
Additional Class Delivery Information One 2 hour lecture per week, plus tutorials.
Course organiserDr Steven Dieterle
Tel: (0131 6)51 5127
Course secretaryMiss Nicole Brun
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