Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Economic Principles II: Microeconomics (ECON2021) OR Economic Data Analysis (ECON2061).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop knowledge and analytical skills in public economics, by building on the second-year microeconomics module
  • To provide students with the opportunity to participate in student-centred learning drawing on recent research
  • To offer students the opportunity to develop some key skills.


  • Theoretical and practical issues in taxation and public expenditure.
  • Problems regarding taxation and public expenditure, and their applications
  • Public Choice (political economy aspects of public economics).
  • students will acquire skills in analysing the effects of taxation on: economic performance, distribution, welfare.
  • Formulate and evaluate optimal taxation arguments and distinguish between Ramsey Taxation, Pigouvian Taxation and Redistibutive Taxation.
  • Knowledge and skills in dealing with problems in the provision of public goods and infrastructure.
  • Analyse taxation and public goods provision from a Public Choice perspective.
  • The core material will be covered through lectures and applications and examples will be discussed in seminars.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module the students should:
  • Understand the effects of different tax instruments and their use in practice
  • Have obtained a good understanding of second-best analysis
  • Understand the political dimension of government and public policy
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to formulate and evaluate optimal taxation - and public expenditure problems
  • Be able to apply second-best analysis to practical problems
Key Skills:
  • Written communication - through summative assessment.
  • Planning, organisation and time management - e.g. by preparing for examinations.
  • Problem solving and analysis - e.g. by applying the necessary analytical and quantitative skills, as well as the ability to manipulate concepts in public economics, in undertaking assessed work.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is by lectures, tutorials and support for student-centred learning. Learning takes place through attendance at lectures, preparation for and participation in tutorial classes and private study (inlcuding student-centred learning). Formative assessment is by means of one problem solving exercise. Summative assessment is by means of an unseen written examination of two and a quarter hours duration.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 Per Week 1 Hour 22
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 1 Hour 8
Student Centred Learning 4 4
Preparation and Reading 166
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one two-and-one-quarter-hour written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

1500 word essay

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University