Business Economics MA(SocSci)

Public Economics ECON4045

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 15
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course seeks to provide a foundation of public economics, by exploring the origins and consequences of public sector involvement in the economy.


10 x 2-hour lectures

5 x 1 hour seminars

1 x 2-hour revision lecture

Excluded Courses



ILO (covered)

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 aim of the course is:

■ To equip students with the ability to analyse the role of public policy in a modern society and in particular its origin and its limitations.

■ To introduce students to the (micro- and macro-economic) analytical concepts, tools and models that constitute the workhorse of analysis and research in public economics.

■ To enable students to evaluate the results from the analyses in public economics that shape public policy today and be able to identify well established results and open questions in public policy.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to use concepts, analytical tools and models and evidence to:


1.Explain efficiency and equity in the market equilibrium, and as motivations and objectives for policy intervention.

2.Analyse key market failures that motivate fiscal government policy.

3.Describe fiscal policy instruments and synthesise empirical evidence on these instruments.

4.Critically analyse political economy explanations of fiscal policy and explain how they can be relevant in understanding observed public finance choices.

5.Critically analyse the effects of taxation on the economy.

6.Describe the main characteristics of optimal tax policy, explain the associated economic logic and theory, and synthesise main results from research and evidence.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits