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Unit information: The Economics of Public Policy in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name The Economics of Public Policy
Unit code SPOLM1062
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Yiming Wang
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

This unit examines key ideas from mainstream economics, their relevance to public policy, and their application to public policy analysis.

The unit also introduces alternative perspectives, such as behavioural economics, to complement the mainstream approach.

The specific topics covered in the unit include, but are not limited to, the welfare economics of market intervention, the economic critique of government, the marketisation of public services, the ethics and economics of public policy, and the application of economic thinking to practical public policy issues, such as labour market transition and minimum wage, transport infrastructure development and land value capture, and the financialisation of urban economy in general and the housing market in particular.

The unit seeks to set the economic approach to policy alongside other criteria that could be used to inform thinking about public policy.

Your learning on this unit

On successful completion of this unit, the student should:

  1. Understand a selection of concepts that are key to the mainstream economic approach to policy
  2. Identify key differences in the approach that mainstream and alternative economics take to assess policy issues
  3. Apply economic reasoning to practical public policy contexts
  4. Compare the economic approach to policy with other criteria that could inform policy thinking.

How you will learn

The unit will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of lectures, group discussion and self-directed exercises.

How you will be assessed

1 x written assessment of 4,000 words (100% and linked to ILO 1-4)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOLM1062).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.