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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Economic Issues in Public Policy (PGSP11246)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe aim of this course is to familiarise students of public policy with relevant economic issues. The course is split into three main sections. Section 1 discusses the assumptions underlying core economic thinking and introduces students to core concepts and measures required to understand how orthodox economic approaches conceptualise people's motivations and behaviour and subsequently how we should think of societies. Section 2 then explores how these ways of economic thinking manifest in four concrete areas of economic policy that states engage in. In section 3 we then investigate the connections between those specific issues to understand how the contemporary dominant ways of economic thinking affect states' economic policies in a systematic fashion.
Course description The course is relevant for all students interested in public policy and a critical understanding of what it means to engage with economic questions in this context. The course is accessible for students with no prior training in economics, as any concepts used will be introduced to the students. However, the course is also highly relevant for students who have had training in economics before, as the core is not about the training in classic economic principles but a critical engagement with the underlying assumptions. Crucially the course will help students appreciate how using economic principles can be useful for certain types of policy analyses, but will also enable students to assess the limits of economic approaches to understanding the behaviour of actors in policy contexts. At the end of the course students will be able to i) understand fundamental economic concepts useful for policy analyses, ii) be able to critically appraise the assumptions made using orthodox approaches, iii) apply discussions about economic issues to specific areas of policy making and iv) situate specific policy debates in larger contemporary debates about the economy from multiple perspectives. The final assignment will allow students to formulate a research question on a particular topic of their own choice to apply the knowledge gained in the course to a concrete interest of theirs.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Economic Issues in Public Policy (MPP) (SCPL11022)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 25% - oral presentation (in tutorials)
75% - 3000 word research paper (for which students have to formulate their own research question)
Feedback To support students┐ learning of fundamental concepts, in particular for those who have not studied economics previously, optional tutorials on formal economics are offered during the first five weeks of the course. Students will receive feedback on their formal progress during those tutorials.
Students will deliver a presentation on a specific economic issue during the tutorials in the second part of the course and will receive feedback on the quality of their analysis and ability to relate economic concepts to the concrete issues under discussion.
This will provide a strong foundation for students to undertake their final assignment. They will have to formulate their own research question. The tutorials will be used to train them how to formulate good research questions. There will also be group exercises to help them with the planning of their research papers during those sessions.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To become familiar with the key concepts and terms used in debates around economic issues in public policy.
  2. To be able to develop an analytical framework for critically appraising public policy approaches in economic terms.
  3. To demonstrate a critical understanding of issues around measuring ┐the size of the state┐.
  4. To demonstrate an ability to critically appraise arguments that try to situate policies within a state-market discourse.
  5. To be in a position to critically discuss the application of economic theories to contemporary public policy issues.
Reading List
Barr N. (2004) The Economics of the Welfare State (4th edition), Oxford: OUP.

Begg D., Fischer S. and Dornbusch R. (2003) Economics (7th edition), McGraw-Hill.

Blyth, M. 2013. Austerity. The History of a Dangerous Idea. New York: Oxford University Press

Engelen, E. et al. 2011. After the Great Complacence. Financial Crisis and the Politics of Reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Frey, B. & Stutzer, A. 2002. Happiness and Economics. How the Economy and Institutions Affect Well-Being. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press

Glennerster H and Hills J (1998) The State of Welfare (2nd edition), Oxford: OUP

Mazzucato, M. 2014. The entrepreneurial state: debunking public vs. private sector myths. London & New York: Anthem Press

Mirovski, P. 2014. Never let a serious crisis go to waste. How neoliberalism survived the financial meltdown. London & New York: Verso
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Students will take part in 2 seminar hours per week during which lecturers will introduce concepts, lead class discussions and will organise group exercises. In these seminars MSc and MPP students will also exchange ideas based on their different perspectives in their study. After learning basic concepts, MSc students will have a weekly tutorial (weeks 5-10) during which they will discuss the research materials in more detail and prepare the final research paper. To support the understanding of fundamental economic concepts, students may (but do not have to) take part in dedicated tutorials during weeks 1-5 of the course, during which they will be introduced to the formal aspects of the underlying economics of the issues discussed for MSc students.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jan Eichhorn
Tel: (0131 6)51 2921
Course secretaryMiss Jemma Auns
Tel: (0131 6) 50 24 56
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