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The University of Southampton

ECON3004 Public Economics

Module Overview

The objectives of this module are to introduce students to the major themes of public economics and to develop their skills in using microeconomic tools to analyse public policy.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply microeconomic principles and methods to devising appropriate policies for a range of economic problems in the private and public sector
  • Combine microeconomic principles with economic data to inform policy decisions
  • Formulate well-founded normative statements (how the world ought to be) as well as predictions on positive outcomes (how the world actually is), to identify differences between the two and possible policy remedies.
  • Use formal logic to uncover the strategic mechanisms at work and thus identify optimal decisons, so as to enable giving well-founded policy advice to decision-makers.
  • Provide policy recommendations based on analytic modeling of strategic interactions for specific policy questions under a deadline.


This module will provide students with an understanding of the scope of public economics (i.e. the study of public goods provision, public finance - expenditure and taxation - and public choice) and with the ability to analyse and understand key issues in this field (How should problems of externalities be identified and addressed? Why and when should education or health care by privately or publicly provided? Should the government increase taxes?) using standard microeconomic tools corresponding to the level taught in core second-year economic courses (optimisation and basic game theory concepts). The course will set out to convey ideas in an accessible way, and in a form that will be of both academic and practical use to students.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and tutorials.

Independent Study122
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Background Readings. A selection of academic articles on the topics covered throughout the modules, made available online on the module pages on Blackboard.

Intermediate Public Economics. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessment will be based on participation in class (10%), two coursework assignments (20% of the final grade each) and an end of semester examination (50%). All assessments will assess your knowledge of concepts and methods in public economics, your ability to apply them to known and some new specific problems in public economics and derive policy implications, and your ability of critical thinking. This is the same for internal repeats; assessment for referrals and external repeat is through 100% end of semester examination. Coursework will be returned with individual feedback. In the first Master Class following the deadline general feedback on the coursework will be given.


MethodPercentage contribution
Class participation 10%
Examination 50%
Problem sets 20%
Problem sets 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Prerequisites: ECON2001 OR ECON2003


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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