Public Economics

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
25 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module analyses the economic rationale for "collective choice" in a market economy. We will consider measures of social welfare, equity and efficiency. We will evaluate analytically the government's ability to identify and achieve "better" outcomes, particularly under a democratic process. We will consider the economic case for interventions to redress market failures, to redistribute resources, and to provide public goods and services Using economic models and analyses (e.g. mathematical derivatives).

This module is also applied: we will discuss and compare actual and proposed programmes in the UK and abroad in the areas of poverty reduction, education, and health.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with a fundamental understanding about the composition of private income and wealth, economic inequalities, and the main sources and uses of public funds in the UK and abroad.

  • To enable students to apply economic concepts such as market failure, public goods, equity and efficiency to justify the role of the state in the economy and to analyse issues related to taxation and redistribution.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have a general appreciation of the composition of private income and wealth, the sources and uses of public funds in the UK and abroad, and the structure of major programmes such as the NHS.

  2. Have a clear understanding of the characteristics of a public good, and a grasp of equity and efficiency issues related to taxation and redistribution.

  3. Form clear, logical, economic arguments for (or against) specific policies, and to articulate these in writing.

  4. In preparing for the final exam paper, demonstrate their ability to access and highlight key statistical and descriptive institutional information from government and academic sources.

  5. Demonstrate written communication skills, and their ability to apply economic theory and knowledge of broad empirical patterns and institutions to specific policy dilemmas.

Transferable Skills

This module incorporates literacy, numeracy and ICT skills, as well as research, information and communication skills. It will equip the student with an understanding of patterns, trends, and institutions that are crucial to obtaining and adapting to employment in or involving the public sector and international institutions.

Module information

Experience of Work: No. However, it will involve crucial knowledge and tasks similar to those involved in work environments such as a public policy research institute or a lobbying organisation.

Academic Skills: Yes. Literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. Research, information and communication skills.

Professional Working Skills: Yes. Adaptability, flexibility, adoption of new techniques, project management.

Career Awareness: Yes. Opportunity awareness and will provide tools needed for self presentation. Some knowledge of organisations that are potential employers. Creativity, originality, and business skills, in the domain of assessing public policy choices as well as the private provision of public goods. Understanding of issues related to social and environmental responsibility.

Personal Development Plan: Yes. Self awareness, target setting and action planning. Time management, self management. Reflection and evaluation.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour lecture per week.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   EC355 Mid-term Moodle Test Friday 15th March 4pm      
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 120 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Thomas Cornelissen, email:
Lectures: Prof Thomas Cornelissen / Classes: Mr Liang Shi
For further information, send a message to



External examiner

Dr Giancarlo Ianulardo
University of Exeter Business School
Lecturer in Economics
Available via Moodle
Of 363 hours, 28 (7.7%) hours available to students:
335 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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