ECON 7238 - Challenges in Economic Policy and Applied Research

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

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 individual research projects that exhibit 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 2
    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 or ECON 7243
    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: Kostas Mavromaras

    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.

    Additional material will be provided during the course.
    Online Learning
    This course will be delivered pimarily in a blended mode, with students present in Adelaide expected to attend classes face-to-face as well as accessing resources online.

    Students who are not present in Adelaide who require an online-only engagement with the course will be accommodated in some cases, and should contact the lecturer to discuss.

    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
    The course's agenda will be influenced by topical policy issues and by the students’ and the lecturer’s more specific policy interests. The aim is to be flexible and maximise the course's core objective of real-world relevance through building the needed analysis and evidence-base for well-informed policy. From the beginning of the course, each student is encouraged to think about their individual project, the core elements of which are a literature review, an oral presentation and a policy paper. Please read the learning activities that follow together with the overall timeline of the course, including its assignments.

    Weeks 1-3: Introduction, discussions and choice of topic;
    Weerks 4-5: Development of draft literature review;
    Weeks 6-8: Completion of literature review and commencement of public policy paper's foundation work;
    Weeks 9-12: Submission of draft policy paper and oral presentation of draft policy paper;
    End Week 15: Submission of final policy paper.

    The early part of the course (Weeks 1 to 3) will begin with building two main conversations, both general in their nature. First, we will explore the way research outputs can serve different purposes for different audiences and using different methodologies. We will stress the “real-world” relevance of these activities in managing to provide the needed evidence-base for informed policy. Second, we will discuss and explore several specific policies that could be used as the research topic/material for the students’ individual projects. The conversation here will be about finding a topic that can inform an existing policy problem in a useful way. The range of policies we can discuss will only be limited to what we jointly think is worth pursuing and we can do so practically. At the end of this early part the student is expected to propose the broad topic of their chosen literature review for approval.

    The next stage of the course (Weeks 4 and 5) will see the student apply the starting conversations of the course towards the development of a draft literature review. This will be an intensive reading, thinking, and writing formative experience. A draft is where one can define questions, find the focus of the review, and do the hard work of finding what others have written about the chosen topic/questions. It is also a time when, in view of reading new material, the student may want to discuss changing your question/topic towards something more relevant, or more important, or even more practically feasible. Finally, it is the time to decide on the focus of the whole exercise of review/presentation/policy paper. On the practical side of things, the student is advised of the need to plan well for undisturbed longer periods of time for the draft. At the end of this part the student can submit the draft paper for comments, but the submission is not a formal course requirement.

    After completing the draft literature review phase, students will have three weeks (Weeks 6 to 8) during which their main activity will be to complete the Literature review and their secondary activity will be to lay the foundations for the policy paper’s particular focus. Whereas the draft literature review phase will have been a time to put together the relevant material in a way that will allow the student to focus, writing the final version of the literature review will be the time to present the important questions, to explore and critique some of the answers and arguments and, importantly, to refine the paper for its target audience. An important objective is for the readership to feel well-informed about where the literature currently stands on the chosen topic. The lectures during this period will introduce several practical public policy examples, in order to facilitate the progression to the next stage of the course, which is the policy paper.

    With the submission of the literature review (a formal requirement of the course), the focus turns to the policy paper. Students will have to work on your first draft of the policy paper (Week 9 to 10) and on their oral presentation (Weeks 11 and 12). Students present the current stand of their policy project before finalizing it with the feedback from the presentation and discussion. Student presentations will be scheduled as the course progresses. Every student will be a presenter and a discussant. Every presenter will be matched with a discussant. After the presentations, students will use the rest of the time for completing their final policy paper by the end of Week 15.

    Due to the weight of this course (6 units) it is expected that considerable efforts will be dedicated to the writing of the Policy Paper as an applied policy report aimed at a policy/decision maker. In particular, the Policy Paper will be expected to present recommendations for policy improvements in a measured, clear, and constructive way, always supported by the evidence presented in the paper. Emphasis will be placed in the capacity of the paper to argue in a simple and convincing manner for a specific policy direction against the status quo or an alternative proposal. The policy paper will need to be written at a level that can be clearly understood by a policy specialist with university level education, but not necessarily in Economics or a related subject. That person will need to be assumed to be on top of the policy content, but not necessarily on top of the methodological and disciplinary jargon needed to develop and propose a solution to a problem.
    The policy paper will also need to be appropriately structured for this purpose, including an executive summary at the start of the paper. Examples will be provided throughout the course's development (in lectures and in MyUni) and will be linked to the conversations about different methodologies and presentations at the start of the course.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    This course is ideally suited for a small-group discovery experience. This small-numbers experience allows the student to make a choice of policy topic that relates to their own interests, but also to observe closely other students doing the same and learn from each other.

    The course also offers the opportunity of highly personalised in-depth learning through participation in classroom discussions. The importance of team learning and development of ideas will be clearer after taking this course.

    The policy paper will not only build the skills of the student who writes it, but also those of the fellow students who will use their critical thinking in the discussions around one another's policy papers. 

    Finally, the lecturer's decades-long experience in building and delivering policy reports to governments and organisations nationally and internationally will be shared with the students throughout the course offering valuable advice and practical tips about developing evidence-based policy analysis and reporting.

  • 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 30% 1, 2, 5
    Oral Presentation Week 10 10% 3, 4, 6
    Policy Paper - Individual report Week 15 60% 2 - 6
    Total 100%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Legible hand-writing and the quality of English expression are considered to be integral parts of the assessment process, and may affect marks. Marks cannot be awarded for answers that cannot be read or understood.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment (Final Literature Review):
    This assignment challenges you to gain an understanding of a range of real-world issues by:
    - tracking down and discussing the relevant economic literature
    - summarizing and synthesizing the state of knowledge on a particular topic
    - contributing your own insights.

    Research project (Oral Presentation of Policy Paper and Final Policy Paper)
    The project focuses on a key policy issue. Your aim should be to build on the Literature Review and become a "house expert" on that particular issue. The policy paper is expected to be of a professional standard with clear, well thought out, and well-argued policy recommendations.
    Your project comprises:
    - a written report about a particular policy question
    - an associated presentation

    The exact details for each assessment will be posted on MyUni.
    The exact due dates of the submission of the Final Literature Review and the Final Policy Paper will be posted on MyUni before the start of the course.

    Dates for individual presentations will be coordinated in class.

    Dates for submission of drafts will be posted on MyUni before the start of the course.

    The draft version of your Policy Paper is expected to be ready in time one week before your presentation and the date will be posted in MyUni at the start of the course. This will give your fellow students - especially your discussant - time to read it before your presentation.

    Late submissions will not be accepted, unless they are due to medical or compassionate reasons and are accompanied by appropriate documents.

    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.

  • 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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