Economics in Public Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Daniel Sturm 32L.2.25 and Dr Mohan Bijapur 32L.1.31


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics and BSc in Social Policy and Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

The course is not open to students on the BSc Economics and joint BSc programmes between Economics other departments.


Students normally will have completed Economics A (EC100) or Economics B (EC102) or their equivalent.

Course content

This course uses economic analysis to explore important questions in contemporary public policy. The first term focuses on microeconomic policy problems while the second term focusses on macroeconomic policies. The use of mathematics is minimal (in particular with no calculus) and the emphasis of instruction is on graphical analysis and economic intuition. Precise topics and readings will be announced and are selected to be of current interest.  Last year’s topics included externalities from road transportation; the implications of high income taxes in Scandinavian countries; the trade-off behind unemployment insurance systems; the effectiveness of policies to support peripheral regions; the effects of international economic integration; the patterns of long-run income and wealth inequality; the economics of global warming; Why did the UK government grant independence to the Bank of England in 1997 and adopt an inflation target?; What caused the global financial crisis and how can policy prevent future crises?; How was global financial regulation reformed in the aftermath of the crisis?; What unconventional tools of monetary policy did central banks implement?; What causes currency crises, how can policy prevent them and what sparked the Trump trade war?; Why has the US been a more successful currency union than the Eurozone, what caused the European sovereign debt crisis and how is it related to Brexit?; How should governments deal with a debt crisis - did Greece make the right choice?; What drives convergence in income levels across countries, why do some countries stay poor and what can policy do about it?


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of LT only (no lectures or classes that week).

A one hour revision lecture will be held in week 11 of the MT.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 49 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes, live streamed (recorded) lectures, and some flipped content delivered as short online videos.

Formative coursework

Four pieces of written work to be handed in to the class teacher. Students are expected to make positive contributions to class discussions.

Indicative reading

There is no set course textbook. A list of selected texts and readings will be provided at the start of term.


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the January exam period.
Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

The Lent term examination is based on the Michaelmas term syllabus, and the Summer exam on the Lent term syllabus.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2019/20: 160

Average class size 2019/20: 18

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication