ECON 3508 - Public Economics III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020

This course investigates the role of the public sector in the economic arena. We will attempt to explain why government intervention is needed, how it influences the behaviour of the private sector and what the welfare effects of such influences are. We will also survey political economy, which regards actions of the public sector as determined by political processes. Topics covered may include welfare economics, market failures, and political economy. Students are expected to be familiar with one variable calculus and optimization techniques at the level required in Intermediate Microeconomics.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 3508
    Course Public Economics III
    Coordinating Unit Economics
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites ECON 2506
    Assessment Typically mid-Semester test & final exam & (optional) essay
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Gareth Myles

    Dr Eran Binenbaum is responsible for this course as Course Coordinator and Lecturer.

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1 learn the basic tools, concepts and models necessary for competence in key topics in Public Economics
    2 learn to analyse policy challenges facing governments around the world and learn about potential solutions to these challenges as well as obstacles in implementing them
    3 learn a set of perspectives into the economic activities of the government sector that will help them become enlightened participants - engaged citizens, voters, politicians, and/or civil servants - in society
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Intermediate Public Economics, second edition (2013), by Jean Hindriks and Gareth D. Myles (MIT Press)
    ISBN 978-0-262-01869-2

    Recommended Resources
    A recommended textbook is Economics of the Public Sector by Joseph Stiglitz (Norton).

    It is strongly recommended that students read at least one prominent newspaper/magazine (e.g. The Australian or the Australian Financial Review or the New York Times or the Economist) to familiarise themselves with the important policy debates of the day. Additional readings will be provided as the course progresses.
    Online Learning
    The course makes extensive use of MyUni to post notes and assignments and for communication with the students.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be delivered in the standard lecture-mode. Students are expected to actively participate in the lectures, which includes doing the requisite reading, answering questions and participating in the conversations. Tutorials will use the problem-solving approach to underscore the concepts covered in the lectures.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Typical weekly workload for the course is 12 hours per week, distributed as follows: 2 hours for the lecture, 1 hour for the tutorial, 3 hours for requisite revision/required readings, 4 hours for homework problems and 2 hours for additional readings.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The lecture schedule is as follows:
    Week 1 Introduction and Overview
    Week 2 General Equilibrium
    Week 3 Welfare Economics I: Efficiency, Welfare Theorems, Social Welfare Functions
    Week 4 Welfare Economics II: Dynamic Efficiency, Impact Assessment, Nonmarket Valuation
    Week 5 Midterm Review lecture
    (NOTE: last lecture before the in-class MIDTERM exam)
    Week 7 Players: The Basic Building Block of Analysis
    (NOTE: first lecture after the Midterm)
    Week 8 Subsystems, Political Philosophy & Rent-Seeking
    Week 9 Public Goods
    Week 10 Theories of the Public Sector
    Week 11 Incentive Problems, Behavioral Economics & Theory of the Second Best
    Week 12 The Role of Government
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The homework problems are related to the lecturer's research. Through discussion in the tutorials, the students will gain an appreciation of the lecturer's work as a researcher. Students are encouraged to follow up on topics of particular interest to them in the Optional Essay.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Optional Essay Exam period 25% (if essay mark higher than final exam mark) 2,3
    Midterm Exam Week 6 30% 1
    Final Exam

    Exam period 70%
    (45% if optional essay mark higher than final exam mark)
    Assessment Detail
    The midterm exam is a 2 hour long, closed-book exam to be held in class in Week 6. It will cover material taught in the first 5 lectures.

    The final exam will be held during the University exam period. It will be a 3 hour long, closed-book exam.

    The optional essay is between 5 and 16 pages long. The student first submits a topic for approval. The student may then submit a draft version of the essay before the deadline so as to get feedback. The final version of the essay is due during the final exam period. More details on the essay are provided in class and on MyUni.
    The final version of the optional essay is due during the final exam period - see MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Additional Assessment

    If a student receives 45-49 for their final mark for the course they will automatically be granted an additional assessment. This will most likely be in the form of a new exam (Additional Assessment) and will have the same weight as the original exam unless an alternative requirement (for example a hurdle requirement) is stated in this semester’s Course Outline. If, after replacing the original exam mark with the new exam mark, it is calculated that the student has passed the course, they will receive 50 Pass as their final result for the course (no higher) but if the calculation totals less than 50, their grade will be Fail and the higher of the original mark or the mark following the Additional Assessment will be recorded as the final result.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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