Economics for Public Policy

See policy through an economic lens

If you are involved in public policy, then you are likely to encounter professional economists and/or their reports. This course aims to prepare you for this interaction 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.

  • Type: Online short course
  • Length: 8 weeks (3-5 hours of study per week recommended)
  • Upcoming intakes: July 2022, October 2022, February 2023, May 2023
  • Next start date: 22 July 2022
  • Fees: £1740 (inclusive of VAT)*
  • Award: Certificate of completion

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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.**

Requirements

Economics for Public Policy

This course is designed for those who wish to enhance their understanding of how economics can be applied to public policy. This master’s-level 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; or
  • you work for an NGO or government organisation, and you want to interact more effectively with policymaking in your day-to-day work.

Modules

Economics for Public Policy

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.

Throughout each module, you will complete various activities to help you monitor your understanding of the module content and your progression through the course.

Activities will include set readings, reflection exercises, multiple-choice questions and discussion forums. Your course Facilitator will guide you through these activities and provide feedback at each stage. These activities are not formally graded but your participation in each task counts towards 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

Economics for Public Policy

Your learning material is provided by our expert faculty. Learn more about the academics:

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 support

Economics for Public Policy

In addition to learning from our expert world-leading academics, you will also benefit from a course Facilitator who will provide academic guidance throughout your learning journey.

Upon completion of the course, you will receive a certificate that will support your career in real terms. You will undertake practical experience that you can take into your workplace, potentially creating an immediate impact for your organisation.

The Facilitator will:

  • comment on weekly discussions on specific topics;
  • provide feedback on all project tasks; and
  • give comments and feedback on all activities.

Your work on this course will bring theory to life through practical examples which you can apply to your own role, including: 

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

Live sessions

During the programme, you will have the opportunity to attend live sessions with your course 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.

About the course

Over eight weeks, you will explore some foundational principles of economics and learn how to apply them in a policy formulation context.

You can expect to achieve the following course outcomes:

  • 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.

There are no specific entry requirements. However, be aware this is a master’s level course and will take a certain level of commitment.

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

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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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; and
  • 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

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

Clare Leaver is an Associate 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.

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