Postgraduate Course: Economic Issues in Public Policy (PGSP11246)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The 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.
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.
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||25% - Recorded research question presentation (5-7 minutes, accompanied by 1-page handout) with group discussion in tutorial
75% - 3000 word research paper (for which students have to formulate their own research question)
||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 the development of their understanding through these.
Students will receive feedback on their first assignment that helps them to develop research questions and a research plan, which will prepare them for the final assignment.
Using this strong foundation students undertake the final research paper. They will have to formulate their own research question, based on what they have practised before. The feedback on the final assignment will be useful for students when thinking about their dissertation in the subsequent semester.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- To become familiar with the key concepts and terms used in debates around economic issues in public policy.
- To be able to develop an analytical framework for critically appraising public policy approaches in economic terms.
- To demonstrate a critical understanding of issues around measuring ¿the size of the state¿.
- To demonstrate an ability to critically appraise arguments that try to situate policies within a state-market discourse.
- To be in a position to critically discuss the application of economic theories to contemporary public policy issues.
|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
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|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.
|Course organiser||Dr Jan Eichhorn
Tel: (0131 6)51 2921
|Course secretary||Ms Cath Thompson
Tel: (0131 6)51 3892