Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Contemporary Issues in Inequality ECON4032

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 15
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will explore the definition, measurement, causes and consequences of inequality in developed countries.


This course will not be offered in every session.

Lectures: 10 x 2-hour lectures

Additional 1 hour revision lecture outside normal hours

Requirements of Entry

Entry to an Honours programme in Economics or a minimum grade C3 (average) in Economics 2A and 2B for students taking an Honours programme in another subject

Excluded Courses



1 individual briefing note (30%), 1 degree exam (70%)

ILO (covered)



Word Length/Duration


Briefing note


1500-2000 words

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this course are as follows:

1. To review the various definitions and approaches to measurement of economic inequality and poverty

2. To consider the pattern of inequality within the UK, between different countries and over time

3. To examine a variety of causes of inequality within different subgroups of the population

4. To examine the empirical evidence in relation to the causes of inequality

5. To assess the effectiveness of policy measures aimed at reducing inequality and poverty with a particular focus on current approaches

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students should be able to:

■ Critically assess the various definitions of inequality and poverty

■ Describe the pattern on inequality in the UK; between the UK and other countries and over time

■ Critically assess the literature on the causes of inequality

■ Describe, explain and critically evaluate the empirical evidence in relation to the causes of inequality

■ Describe, explain and critically evaluate any policy measures aimed at reducing poverty and inequality

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits