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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Economics and Finance


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to L1T109 Economics
Tied to L1T209 Public Economics
Tied to L1T309 Experimental Economics
Tied to L1T409 Environmental & Natural Resource Economics
Tied to N3K709 Finance (Economics and Finance)
Tied to L2T109 Global Politics


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the economic aspects of environmental problems, and of specialist economic tools to analyse and solve those problems.


  • The module starts with an introduction covering the general topics, the learning objectives, the course structure and the assessment criteria. The following lectures present the theoretical background to the problem of environmental degradation by dealing with issues of welfare economics. In the main part of the module, the theory of externalities implied by air pollution is analysed. An externality occurs when the decisions of one agent affect the utility or production decisions of other agents in an unintended way. If decisions are being made without taking account of the externalities, a Pareto-optimal allocation will not arise, and government intervention is desirable in the forms of pollution standards, emissions taxes and tradable permits. Applications are extensively provided. Subsequently, the module deals with natural resources and the international dimension of environmental policy when pollution is transboundary and may have global effects such as global warming, biodiversity loss, depletion of the ozone layer. The problems related to the design and implementation of international environmental agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol (1997) will be analysed. The course is also concerned with optimal environmental policy when voting behaviour and the effects of lobby groups are taken into account.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • have an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the contribution of economic analysis to the solution of complex environmental problems;
  • have a critical appreciation of the role of free markets and/or government intervention to deal with complex environmental problems;
  • have a critical knowledge of, and be able to engage in advanced discussion of, current political strategies for the protection of the environment from an economic standpoint;
  • have explored, understood and appreciated the complexity and contradictions of the current academic literature and its implications for professional practice, and be able to identify open questions for their own research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • be able to solve complex optimisation problems algebraically, and make use of graphical analysis at an advanced level.
Key Skills:
  • Written Communication;
  • Planning, Organising and Time Management;
  • Problem Solving and Analysis;
  • Using initiative;
  • Numeracy;
  • Computer Literacy.

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

  • A combination of lectures, seminars and guided reading will contribute to achieving the aims and learning outcomes of this module. Summative assessment by written examination will test students' knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter, their critical judgement and problem-solving skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 per week 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 Fortnightly 1 hour 4
Revision 2 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 124
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Work prepared by students for seminars; answers to questions either discussed during a seminar, or posted on DUO; feedback on discussions with teaching staff during consultation hours, or via e-mail.

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