ECON 7220 - Challenges Facing Economic Policy Makers

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

The course deals with controversial aspects of economic policy faced by governments, focusing on real-world applications of economic insights. Policy challenges addressed in the course will range across different areas of policy. Issues of relevance to both domestic and international policy will be explored as will topics of particular importance in developing countries.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 7220
    Course Challenges Facing Economic Policy Makers
    Coordinating Unit School of Economics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Incompatible ECON 7141; ECON 7238
    Assumed Knowledge ECON 7011 & ECON 7071
    Course Description The course deals with controversial aspects of economic policy faced by governments, focusing on real-world applications of economic insights. Policy challenges addressed in the course will range across different areas of policy. Issues of relevance to both domestic and international policy will be explored as will topics of particular importance in developing countries.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Eran Binenbaum

    Office hours: By appointment only, phone 8313 3048
    Office location: Nexus 10, Level 4, Room 4.33
    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 Acquire economic insights relevant to policy issues
    2 Apply economic analysis to local, state, national and international policy issues
    3 Prepare material on and present economic insights with policy relevance
    4 Provide and respond to constructive criticism of economic policy analysis
    5 Evaluate and synthesize research-based and scholarly literature
    6 Demonstrate specialist knowledge in an area of economic policy and research
    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
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Not applicable
    Recommended Resources
    Access to textbooks from Intermediate Microeconomics and Intermediate Macroeconomics may be helpful: The content of these two courses is the assumed knowledge of this course.

    An additional useful resource is: Jean Hindriks & Gareth D. Myles, Intermediate Public Economics, 2nd edition, MIT Press, 2013. The book contains excellent background discussions (although all necessary materials will be provided by the lecturer).
    Online Learning
    The course makes extensive use of MyUni to post notes and student project papers, and for communication with the students.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The contact time in this course is made up mainly of one two-hour lecture per week. Given the small class size and important role of student projects, the "lecture" time will have significant student input, including presentations and discussions of projects. In addition to the lecture, individual guidance is provided to the students as they work on their projects. A workshop may also be offered to the students to help them develop their research skills, writing skills and presentation skills. Information about the workshop will be provided on MyUni. Participation in the workshop is optional.

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

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This translates to 12 hours per week for a 3-unit semester course.
    For this course, the 12 hours per week will comprise one 3-hour lecture session per week, and 9 hours of individual study time.

    The "lecture" time will include significant student input. There will be discussions involving the whole class. Later in the course, much of the lecture time will be devoted to student project presentations.
    The "individual study" time will be used for student projects. Preparation for projects - papers and presentations - will take most of students' time during the course.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Students are guided step by step in preparing and providing informed policy advice.
    The week-to-week agenda of lectures is fine-tuned to student needs - depending on class size and the students' interests.

    In the first weeks, principles of economic policymaking are introduced, and students learn to think about real-world economic policy challenges. The lecturer introduces policy issues such as welfare policy, feeding the world, the tragedy of the commons (e.g. global warming, or over-fishing), the role of the government in promoting innovation,etc. For each student, a key policy issue is identified that suits the student's interests. Your aim is to become a "house expert" (author/presenter) on that particular issue.

    The first step in developing your expertise is your Assignment - a review of the relevant theoretical and applied literature on your topic. Lectures and individual guidance support you in your literature review. You learn to 
    - track down relevant economic literature, using literature databases such as EconLit and the Web of Science;
    - summarize and synthesize the state of knowledge on your topic; and
    - contribute your own insights.

    Building on your literature review, you undertake your Research project (written and oral presentation) focusing on your policy issue.
    Your project comprises:
    - a written report about your particular policy question
    - an associated presentation
    Lectures and individual guidance support you in your project.  You learn to develop the right structure and argument in your report, and to use your presentation as a tool to improve your report.

    Small Group Discovery Experience
    This class provides a small-group setting for exploring original economic research and its relevance to the real world. The lecturer will often draw upon his research in guiding and discussing student projects.
  • 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
    (literature review)
    Week 6 35% 1,5,6
    Draft policy paper Week 8 1,2,3,6
    Presentations Weeks 9 and 10 4,6
    Participation, including Written Peer Review Week 13 10% 4
    Final Policy Paper Week 15 55% 1,2,3,6
    Assessment Detail
    This assignment challenges you to gain an understanding of a range of real-world issues by:
    - tracking down and discussing relevant economic literature
    -summarizing and synthesizing the state of knowledge on a particular topic
    - contributing your own insights.

    Research project (written and oral presentation)
    focusing on a key policy issue. Your aim should be to become a "house expert" on that particular issue.
    Your project comprises:
    - a written report about a particular policy question
    - an associated presentation

    Class Participation:
    This consists of a review of another student's project, and contribution to classroom discussion. It is important to give useful feedback on other students' projects. The peer review consists of verbal comments after the author's presentation, plus a peer review document containing comments on the report. All students - not only the reviewer - are expected to prepare for the presentation sessions by reading all the papers that are presented, and to be active participants in the discussions providing feedback to the presenters.
    In the first two weeks of the course, you propose your policy topic to Eran. You can do this by email. Eran informs you of his decision to approve your topic. You submit your literature review (in Week 6), draft policy paper (in Week 8), written peer review (in Week 13) and final policy paper (in Week 15) by email to Eran. After you submit your draft policy paper, it is posted on MyUni.  This will give your fellow students - especially your reviewer - time to read it before your presentation. The purpose of your presentation is for you to get useful feedback on your draft policy paper. Every student is expected to prepare for the presentations by reading the draft papers that are presented.  You can use your draft paper to solicit specific feedback from your peers, and to help steer the classroom discussion. For submission of the written peer review of the draft paper, it is best for the reviewer to have the author's email address. It is the author's responsibility to provide it to the reviewer well before the review deadline. This enables the reviewer to submit the written peer review in a single email to the author and Eran. The written peer review complements the classroom discussion. It serves the same purpose  - to give useful feedback to the author, with suggestions for final revisions.
    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.

  • 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.

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