ECON 7238 - Challenges in Economic Policy and Applied Research

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

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. This exploration also involves the development of relevant research skills and students undertaking an individual research project that exhibits original investigation, critical reflection and interpretation.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 7238
    Course Challenges in Economic Policy and Applied Research
    Coordinating Unit Economics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week, including individual meetings
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites ECON 7001
    Incompatible ECON 7220
    Assumed Knowledge 12 units of Economics PG or higher courses
    Assessment Assessment will typically include the following components: class participation, literature review and a policy paper
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Jonathan Pincus

    Teaching Staff:
    Semester 1
    Office hours: By appointment only
    Office location: Nexus 10, Level 4, Room 4.23

    Semester 2
    Office hours: By appointment only
    Office location: Nexus 10, Level 4, Room 4.23
    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
    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
    This course will be delivered in online mode.  The course also makes extensive use of MyUni to post notes, task assignments, 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 three-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 24 hours per week for a 6-unit semester course.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Teaching & Learning Activities Related Learning Outcomes
    Lectures 1,2,5
    Workshop 3,4,5
    Presentation 2,3,4,6
    Peer Review discussion 2,4,6

    Early in the course, the lecturer will introduce key themes such as incentive problems, market failure, government failure, and potential remedies for these failures. The lecturer will also provide examples of economic analysis yielding policy recommendations and tasks directing students to analyse a set of policy issues on their own. As the course progresses, student input into the course will increase, through student projects and class participation.

    Policy challenges addressed in the course will range widely across different areas of policy. The lecturer will introduce 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.

    The course's agenda of policy issues will be influenced by the news and by student interests. Through this flexibility we aim to maximise the course's core objective of real-world relevance. From the beginning of the course, students are encouraged to think about their projects. After the mid-semester break, the course will focus on student projects.

    Student presentations will be scheduled as the course progresses and held in the final weeks of the course. Every student will be a presenter and a discussant. Every presenter will be matched with a discussant.

    Students present the current stand of their policy project before finalizing it with the feedback from the presentation and discussion.

    The workshop sessions will be devoted to the development of students’ research communication skills, both oral and written. These sessions will be highly interactive and will enable students to practise these skills and enhance their learning and assessment outcomes. Such skills include synthesising information from different sources and integrating it into a logical well-linked argument, writing a literature review, delivering an engaging presentation and leading discussion in an academic seminar.
    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 Due Date/Week Weighting Learning Outcomes
    Literature Review Draft - Individual essay Week 5 0% 1, 2, 5
    Literature Review - Individual essay Week 8 45% 1, 2, 5
    Oral Presentation Week 10 0% 3, 4, 6
    Peer Assessment Report - Individual work Week 12 10% 4, 5
    Policy Paper - Individual report Week 15 45% 2 - 6
    Total 100%

    Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.

    To support the changes to teaching, the following revisions to assessment have been made:-

    The Policy Paper will now be worth 55% and the Peer Assessment Report component (which was worth 10%) has been removed.
    Assessment Detail
    This assignment challenges you to gain an understanding of a range of real-world policy issues by:
    * tracking down and discussing relevant economic literature
    * summarizing and synthesizing the state of knowledge on a particular topic
    * identifying a "gap" in the literature, i.e. scope for making an original contribution
    * contributing your own judgement and insights

    Policy project (written and oral presentation)
    The project focuses 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 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.

    The exact details for each assessment will be posted on MyUni.
    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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