Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ECON1091: Introduction to Economic Ethics

Department: Business School (Economics and Finance)

ECON1091: Introduction to Economic Ethics

Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L100
Tied to L106
Tied to L109
Tied to L1R1
Tied to V612
Tied to V614
Tied to V615


  • GCSE Mathematics at grade A


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To consider a variety of economic issues and policies from the perspectives of different ethical frameworks, drawing on economic theory to the extent necessary for informed evaluation at the ethical level.
  • To introduce students to the different ethical frameworks available, including neoclassical welfare economics, virtue ethics and Catholic Social Thought.
  • To explain the close relationship between ethical frameworks and economic theories.


  • Introduction to different ethical frameworks including the utilitarian basis of welfare economics, virtue ethics and Catholic Social Thought.
  • Analysis of a variety of economic issues and policy questions including the relevant empirical data and applying the different ethical frameworks.
  • Elaboration of sufficient economic theory in each policy area to inform the discussion.
  • A clear indication, as appropriate, of the reasons for the different conclusions of each ethical framework in a particular policy area and the extent to which these differences arise from ethical premises or economic theory.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • knowledge and understanding of key ethical issues and questions in Economics
  • familiarity with the empirical data relating to each issue
  • introduction to different ethical frameworks relevant to economic theory and policy
  • introduction to competing economic theoretical frameworks
Subject-specific Skills:
  • interpretation of economic data and descriptive statistics in graphical and tabular form
  • critical analysis and evaluation of competing ethical arguments
Key Skills:
  • critical thinking
  • interpretation of economic data
  • construction of logical argument in prose
  • advocacy and debate of opposing claims in person

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

  • Teaching is through lectures and seminars.
  • Learning will be based on knowledge acquired through lectures, preparation for and participation in seminars, and private study. The focus of most lectures will be a specific real-world issue, with an emphasis on the presentation of empirical evidence to ground the theoretical content. Seminars will be structured in part as debates with students nominated to take opposite sides of the argument.
  • Formative assessment concentrates on the ability to construct a reasoned evidence-based argument within one or more explicit ethical frameworks.
  • Summative assessment is by means of an examination (60%) and a 2,500 word essay completed during Epiphany term (40%).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 41 2 per week 1 hour 41
Seminars 8 4 in term 1, 4 in term 2 1 hour 8
Preparation and reading 151 151
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One written examination 2 hours 100% same
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 2,500 words 100% same

Formative Assessment:

1,500 word essay to be completed during Michaelmas term.

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