- DepartmentLSE Law School
- Application codeSS-LL110
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The course provides an introduction to tax policy that links real-world debates about the tax system with ideas from a range of academic disciplines, including political theory, economics and sociology, as well as law.
Tax is a fundamental part of every society. Everyone has views on the justice or injustice of the taxes they pay. The rich pay too much (or too little) tax. It’s grossly unfair (or absolutely right) to tax inheritances. Taxes can distort behaviour and create inefficiencies, but they can also correct market failures and help to limit inequality. Why should people pay taxes for services they don’t use, or give away their earnings to people who don’t work? But, what would it be like to live in a society with no taxes? How can we ensure that everyone pays the taxes they owe? And so on.
The course helps to make sense of these competing views about the tax system. The aim is to address real-world debates about tax policy as they appear in the media and in politics, but to do so in an academically rigorous way. The course adopts an interdisciplinary approach that draws on ideas from across the social sciences to address two main questions: why do we have the tax policies we have, and how can our current tax system be improved? The main examples will be taken from the UK and US contexts, but the insights generated are truly global.
The final part of the course enables students to apply what they have learned to two topical case studies. The first case study considers the UK’s current ‘housing crisis’, examining the role of the tax system and options for reform. The second case study addresses the major changes to the US tax system signed by President Trump in the 2017 ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’, prompting students to explain and evaluate these developments using the tools that they have acquired during the course.
Prerequisites: There are no subject-specific prerequisites for this course: no prior study of Law or any other subject is required or assumed. The course is suitable for any student with an interest in tax policy.
No prior knowledge of the UK or US tax systems is required or assumed; students are introduced to both of these systems as part of the course.
Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs
Fees: Please see Fees and payments
Lectures: 36 hours
Classes: 18 hours
Assessment: 1,500 word essay and one written examination
Typical credit: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)
Please note: Assessment is optional but may be required for credit by your home institution. Your home institution will be able to advise how you can meet their credit requirements. For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment
Is this course right for you?
The course is suitable for any student with an interest in tax policy. Students are actively encouraged to apply from a wide range of academic backgrounds within the Social Sciences, including Politics, Economics and Sociology as well as Law.
- Engage with real-world debates about tax policy
- Understand the role of the tax system in society and the economy
- Develop tools for explaining and evaluating tax policies
- Apply principles of tax design to topical case studies
The design of this course is guided by LSE faculty, as well as industry experts, who will share their experience and in-depth knowledge with you throughout the course.
Dr Andy Summers
Associate Professor of Law
Dr Michael Blackwell
Associate Professor of Law
LSE’s School of Law is one of the top-ranked Schools of Law in the UK, receiving the highest rating of 4* in the most recent Research Excellence Framework. It also ranked in the top 10 worldwide in the 2022 QS World University Rankings. The School’s research output has a significant impact on national and international policymaking and on decision-making within business, government and other agencies.
Students have unique access to a wide breadth of courses that explore the biggest and most pressing issues affecting our society today. The courses are continually adapted to cover global social phenomena and contemporary developments within law. Many of the full-time graduates of the School of Law go on to play leading roles in law, politics, government, business, media and administration, in the UK and abroad.
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