PPE 2002 - Foundations of Public Policy

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

Good public policy is fair, effective, and reasonable in its approach to public problems. In this core course for the program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of a number of foundational topics in the formulation and evaluation of evidence-based policy, including the nature of rational choice (both for individuals and collectives), and the role of cost-benefit analysis in policy development, including ways in which considerations of justice and fairness might influence the analysis. The course focuses on the philosophical foundations of rational choice theory, political economy, and welfare economics. The emphasis is on conceptual issues accessible to all PPE students, and is a key opportunity for members of the PPE cohort to engage with their peers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PPE 2002
    Course Foundations of Public Policy
    Coordinating Unit School of Humanities
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Prerequisites PHIL 1103 and ECON 1012
    Restrictions Available to Bachelor of Philosophy, Politics and Economics students only
    Assessment Major essay 40%, short essay 25%, Group presentation 25%,discussion preparation activities 10%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Antony Eagle

    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. Individually, and in collaboration with peers, investigate and present the main controversies around rational choice theory and evidence-based policy;
    2. Demonstrate understanding of major theoretical approaches from philosophy, politics, and economics to public policy through oral and written argument;
    3. Identify relevant contemporary policy challenges and demonstrate the ability to apply the major foundational approaches covered to a particular policy proposal.;
    4. Explain and evaluate, through extended written argument, selected proposed foundations for successful policy development.
    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

    There is a required textbook that we will structure much of the course around:

    Hausman, D., McPherson, M., and Satz, D. (2016). Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy, 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316663011.

    Recommended Resources

    We will read a number of books chapters and articles as supplements to the Hausman, McPherson and Satz textbook. These will be available through a course reading list in MyUni. An a preliminary indication, we will be looking at the following:

    • Arneson, Richard (2013) ‘Egalitarianism’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2013/entries/egalitarianism/
    • Bykvist, Krister (2010) Utilitarianism. A Guide for the Perplexed, Continuum.
    • Brennan, Geoffrey (2010) ‘PPE; An Institutional View’, Politics Philosophy and Economics
    • Cartwright, Nancy (2012) Evidence Based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing it Better, Oxford University Press.
    • Cartwright, Nancy (2009) ‘Evidence–Based Policy: what’s to be done about relevance’ Philosophical Studies 143: 127–136.
    • Dowding, K. (2009) ‘What is Welfare and How Can We Measure It?’, ch. 19 in The Oxford Handbook in Philosophy and Economics, D. Ross and H. Kincaid (eds.), Oxford University Press.
    • Feldman, F. (2010) ‘Measuring Happiness’, in his What is This Thing Called Happiness? OUP.
    • Frankfurt, Harry (1987) ‘Equality as a Moral Ideal’ Ethics 98: 21–42.
    • Heathwood, Christopher, 2010, ’Welfare’, Routledge Companion to Ethics, Skorupski, J. (ed.): 645–654.
    • Peterson, Martin (2009) An Introduction to Decision Theory, Cambridge University Press.
    • Roush, Sherrilyn (2009) ‘Randomized controlled trials and the flow of information: comment on Cartwright’ Philosophical Studies 143: 137–145.
    • Slovic, P. and Lichtenstein, S. (1983) ‘Preference Reversals: A Broader Perspective’, The American Economic Review 73: 596–605.
    • Tversky, A. and Kahnemann, D. (1981) ‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’, Science 211 (4481): 453–458.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    No information currently available.


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

    1 x 1-hour lecture per week 12 hours per semester
    1 x 2-hour workshop per week 24 hours per semester
    Sub-total 36 hours
    5 hours reading per week 60 hours per semester
    1 hour discussion preparation per week 12 hours per semester
    4 hours assignment preparation per week 48 hours per semester
    Sub-total 120 hours
    TOTAL 156 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    1 1 Introduction: What is PPE? Hausman, et al., chs. 1–2
    2 2–4 Rationality, Morality, and Markets Hausman, et al., chs. 4–6
    3 5–8 Welfare and Consequences Hausman, et al., chs. 7–9, 11
    4 9–10 Moral Mathematics Hausman, et al., chs. 13–14
    5 11 Evidence Based Policy
    6 12 Conclusion and Summary Hausman, et al., chs. 15–16
  • 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
    Major Essay Summative 40% 1,2,3,4
    Shorter Essay Formative and Summative 25% 1,2,3,4
    Group Presentation Summative 25% 1,2,3
    Discussion preparation activities Formative and Summative 10% 1,2
    Assessment Detail
    AssessmentDescription% weighting
    Major essay An extended essay of 2000 words on the foundational issues discussed in the course. 40
    Shorter essay A brief essay of 1000 words on the conceptual aspects of the first half of the course 25
    Group presentation This group activity, completed by groups of students, will take the form of a policy paper, identifying, analysing, and proposing a resolution to a specific policy challenge, with reference to the course material. Work will be assessed on a group presentation and a report, which should involve equal contributions from each group member. The contributions of each individual to the presentation and report will amount to the equivalent of 1000 words. 25
    Discussion preparation activities Each week students should prepare brief remarks on the week’s reading in advance of the workshop. 10

    No information currently available.

    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.

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    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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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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