Economics for Public Policy

See policy through an economic lens

If you are working within public policy, it is highly likely that you will come across professional economists and their reports. This course aims to prepare you for these interactions by introducing you to the language and concepts of economics for public policy and by encouraging you to become a critical consumer of economic analysis.

You will learn about what markets can achieve, why they sometimes fail, and what governments can do in response. You will also explore how governments can raise revenue through taxation and alleviate shocks to the macro economy.

Economics for Public Policy is certified by CPD UK’s (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service.

CPD logo that reads: CPD CERTIFIED - The CPD Certification Service

Find out how to complement the skills built on this course with another in our government and public policy short course portfolio. Explore our multi-course pathway.

  • Type: Online short course
  • Length: 8 weeks (3-5 hours of study per week recommended)
  • Upcoming intakes: May, August, October 2024
  • Next start date: 4 May 2024 (deadline 1pm (GMT) on 3 May)
  • Fees: £1740 (inclusive of VAT)*
  • Award: Certificate of completion

*Discounts are available to alumni, those working in the public sector and certain geographical regions. Register your interest to learn more.

Requirements

This online course is designed for those who wish to enhance their understanding of how economics concepts can be applied to public policy.  

This course is for you if: 

  • you are an early-to-mid-career civil servant wanting to move into a specialist or management position; 
  • you are an experienced professional in a strategic position wanting to update your formal knowledge and equip yourself with the tools needed to remain effective and current;
  • you work for an NGO or government organisation, and you want to interact more effectively with policymaking in your day-to-day work. 

There are no specific entry requirements for this course. However, please be aware that it is a master’s level course, so will take a certain level of commitment. Learners are expected to dedicate 3-5 hours a week to their studies, with all activities and tasks taking place online.

Modules

You will study eight modules over the course of eight weeks. It is a collaborative learning process, week-by-week, so you will have ample opportunity to discuss key policy topics with your peers and a course Facilitator.

Activities will include set readings, reflection exercises, multiple-choice questions and discussion forums. Your Facilitator will guide you through these activities and provide feedback at each stage. These activities are not formally graded but you will need to participate in each to successfully complete the course and qualify for your certificate.

The final assessment, completed in module eight, will be your main summative assignment and marked by your Facilitator. Accompanying this in your final week will be a summative quiz. Altogether, the work you produce in your assessment week will be worth 50% of your final grade.

  • Module 0: Getting started 
  • Module 1: How (micro) economists think 
  • Module 2: What markets can achieve 
  • Module 3: Why markets can fail I 
  • Module 4: Why markets can fail II 
  • Module 5: Why markets can fail III 
  • Module 6: What to tax and why 
  • Module 7: Going macro 
  • Module 8: Assessment week

Faculty

Your learning material is provided by our expert faculty. Learn more about Dr Clare Leaver and Professor İrem Güçeri.

Dr Clare Leaver - Oxford

Dr Clare Leaver

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

Faculty and researchers

Read bio

Academic Irem Guceri - Oxford

İrem Güçeri

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

Faculty and researchers

Read bio

Learning experience

In addition to learning from our world-leading academics, you will also benefit from a course Facilitator. Coming from a public policy background, they will provide support throughout your learning journey, be present during weekly discussions and offer guidance and feedback on tasks and assessments. 

This online course will bring theory to life, using practical examples and activities that you can apply to your own role. These may include a combination of:

  • interactive simulations; 
  • knowledge checks; 
  • case studies; 
  • discussion forums;
  • practical exercises.

We’ve welcomed students from various backgrounds and all over the world onto our Economics for Public Policy course. Find out more about some of their experiences learning with us.

Course outcomes

On this online course, you can expect to learn the language and concepts of economics for public policy, including about ‘mainstream economics’, economic rationale for government intervention and the financial challenges of public policy. You will also receive a certificate to support your career progression. See our full learning outcomes section for more detailed information.

This programme is also certified by CPD UK. Learners will be able to request their CPD certificate after successfully finishing the course, using their certificate of completion as proof of eligibility. The course has an estimated 40 hours of learning, equating to 40 CPD points.

Note, the onus is on students to request these CPD certificates at the end of their studies. The University and its partners accept no responsibility, and cannot be held responsible, for the claiming or validation of hours or points.

Live sessions

During this distance learning programme, you will have the opportunity to attend live sessions with your Facilitator and fellow students. All sessions are optional. If you cannot attend, you will have full access to recordings after each one.

Week three: welcome and module debriefs

This session is a chance to meet your Facilitator and introduce yourself to your peers, if you have not yet had the opportunity to do so. You will also be able to debrief and discuss your experiences of the two interactive games you will undertake in modules one and two.

Week five: open debrief and module discussion

This stage of the course is a good time to have an open discussion with your Facilitator and fellow learners. You will be able to ask your questions to help resolve any challenges you are facing. The live session will also be a chance to reflect upon the two activities that you will undertake in modules four and five.

Week eight: Q&A and final assessment preparation 

This session will allow you to check in with your Facilitator and uncover any challenges you have faced. In particular, you will discuss the content that you covered in module seven.

It will also provide an opportunity to gain additional support and guidance ahead of your final assessment.

Fees and funding

The total cost of this short course is £1,740 (inclusive of VAT), with discounts available to Oxford University alumni, those working in a public sector role (evidence is required) and those who choose to study more than one of our online courses (our multi-course pathway).

It is possible to pay your fees in two instalments, laying down a deposit (and reserving a space) before settling the final balance and securing your place on the course ahead of its start.

For more information about our deposit scheme or discounts you may be entitled to, please feel free to email us.

Considering asking your employer to fund your studies? Read our blog on the best way to approach them for sponsorship.

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*Discounts available to alumni and those working in the public sector. Evidence required.

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*Students in your region are eligible for financial support. At check out, use the code BSGFEESUPPORT to receive £640 off and pay £1100.**

About the course

On this eight-week online short course, you will explore some foundational principles of economics and learn how to apply economic theory in a policy formulation context.

You will learn about what markets can achieve, why they sometimes fail, and what governments can do in response. You will also explore how governments can raise revenue through taxation and alleviate shocks to the macro economy.

All your course content, tasks and activities will be accessed online, giving you the opportunity to learn from Oxford University academics, and gain a public policy qualification, from wherever you are in the world.

Watch the one-minute video for an overview of the course.

Economics for Public Policy

Course outcomes

On this online course, you can expect to achieve the following: 

  • Be able to explain what ‘mainstream economics’ is, identify relevant applications, and appreciate the limitations of this approach;  
  • understand the economic rationale for government intervention in a variety of global settings, and critically appraise specific policy responses;
  • appreciate the challenges associated with the design and finance of public policy, both in theory and practice.

Upon completion of the course, you will receive a certificate that will support your career progression and enhance your resume. You will have developed practical skills and solutions that you can take into your workplace, where they will have an immediate impact on your organisation. This programme is also certified by CPD UK.

Modules

In this initial module, you will meet your learning community.

Your first module will focus on two topics: rational choice, and supply and demand. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Discuss what the mainstream economic approach is, and evaluate potential applications and limitations of the theory of rational individual choice;
  • Differentiate some key concepts used by economists following this approach: demand, supply, and market equilibrium.

The two topics in this module are: markets and efficiency, and trade. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Critically assess how economists evaluate outcomes (of economic interaction);
  • Be aware of the conditions under which market outcomes are Pareto efficient;
  • Understand the theory of comparative advantage and its implications for patterns of trade.

In this module, there is a topic, imperfect competition, and a case study, US versus Microsoft. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Be aware of the different assumptions in the models of perfect competition and monopoly, and understand why monopoly (and market power more generally) is a source of market failure;
  • Outline the range of policy responses to natural monopoly and the challenges of competition policy.

In this module, there is a topic, imperfect information, and a case study, The Affordable Care Act. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Be aware of different forms of asymmetric information, and understand why these asymmetries are sources of market failure;
  • Appreciate how private providers respond to asymmetric information, and the extent to which policymakers can intervene to address this source of market failure.

In this module, there is a topic, missing markets for external effects, and a case study, Carbon Pricing. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Be aware of the different sources of external effect: negative externalities, public goods, and common-pool resources, and understand why there is market failure in each case;
  • Appreciate the range of policy responses to external effects, including current debates concerning ways to reduce carbon emissions.

There are two topics in this module: tax incidence and optimal taxes. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Understand the concept of the economic incidence of a tax and how economists assess the ‘fairness’ of tax systems;
  • Appreciate the main lessons of the theory of optimal taxation, and be aware of the extent to which these lessons have been followed in practice.

There are two topics in this module: macroeconomic fundamentals, and downturns and policy responses. Based on the activities in this week, you can expect to be able to do the following:

  • Understand key macroeconomic variables and make comparisons across economies and over time;
  • Be able to link the different components of the monetary policy transmission mechanism;
  • Appreciate the economic basis for responses to different types of economic fluctuations.

In this final module, you will be given a fictional policy scenario and two technical reports that the fictional government commissioned from economists.

The task is in two parts. First, you will answer a series of knowledge checks to test your comprehension of the material in the reports. Once complete, you will prepare a policy brief that covers the aspects discussed in previous modules.

Faculty

Dr Clare Leaver - University of Oxford

Dr Clare Leaver

PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

Dr Clare Leaver is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, and a Fellow of University College, Oxford. She studies careers and incentives in the public sector, with a focus on education sectors in low and middle-income countries. Clare is Research Coordinator for the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme, Co-Academic Director of DeliverEd, a research programme which seeks to build evidence on delivery approaches for learning reform, Co-Academic Director of the People in Government Lab, and a Fellow at CEPR. She holds a PhD from the University of Bristol.

Academic Irem Guceri - University of Oxford

İrem Güçeri

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

İrem Güçeri is an Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Governing Body Fellow of St Antony’s College. She studies the ways in which government policies can promote growth and productivity, as well as issues surrounding efficient policymaking in the field of taxation. Irem is an International Research Fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, and an affiliate of the CESifo Network in Public Economics. She received her MPhil and DPhil degrees in Economics from Oxford University, after having obtained a BA in Economics from Koc University and an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Frequently asked questions

Most economic issues and decisions are viewed through the eyes of political beliefs. In turn, these beliefs turn into policies. Therefore, it is an advantage for public policy professionals to have at least a basic understanding of economics concepts so they can communicate with economists effectively in their work.

Our Economics for Public Policy course takes eight weeks to complete, with 3-5 hours of study time per week recommended.

There are no specific entry requirements for the Economics for Public Policy course, but please be aware that this is a master’s level programme; a certain level of commitment will be expected. Tasks and activities must be completed in order to successfully complete the course and gain a certificate.

This course would best suit public policy professionals, or those aspiring to work in the sector, who need a better understanding of the relationship between economics and public policy.

Student Stories

Photo of Economics for Public Policy graduate Oyinlola Adewoyin

Oyinlola Adewoyin

Economics for Public Policy student Mobolaji Idowu

Mobolaji Idowu

Blue and white icon of student in graduation cap

Jessica Lennard

Visit the Student Stories page to read more of our graduate testimonials.

Interested in learning more? Complete the form and a member of our team will be in touch. We’ll also send you email updates and remind you of key dates.

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