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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Economics and Finance


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Microeconomics (ECON2021) OR Economic Theory (ECON****)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop knowledge and analytical skills in public economics, by building on the second-year microeconomics module.


  • theoretical and practical issues in taxation and public expenditure;
  • second-best problems regarding taxation and public expenditure, and their applications;
  • political economy aspects of public economics, including the effects of government policy on, e.g., economic performance, distribution and welfare;
  • the normative theory of government policy, e.g., evaluation of tax systems on the basis of efficiency, redistribution, and correction of market imperfections.

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.
  • Using initiative
  • Numeracy

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 an assignment. Summative assessment is by means of a written examination.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 1 Per Week 1 Hour 20
Revision Lectures 2 1 per week 1 hour 2
Seminars 8 Fortnightly 1 Hour 8
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One written examination 3 hours 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

1500 word assignment

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

If you have a query about a specific module or degree programme, please contact the appropriate department.

If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our FAQ webpage. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the FAQ, or a query about the on-line Faculty Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.