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Public Finance

Module description

This module is about fundamental questions in the economics of the public sector: how should decisions be made about whether particular tasks should be undertaken by the public sector or the private sector? It therefore deals with public goods, policies with respect to external effects and so on. The course then develops the criteria by which a tax or possible tax reform can be assessed and applies them to the development of tax policy.

Additional Information:


The broad scope of this module means internationalisation is embedded in the course content with examples being drawn from different countries as well as an analysis of the tax and public expenditure implications of globalization.



Sustainability is included in the issues involved, for example in the analysis of corrective taxation such as pollution taxes.



Employability will be enhanced by the development of analytical skills.


The assessment structure on this module is subject to review and may change before the start of the new academic year. Any changes will be clearly communicated to you before the start of term and if you wish to change module as a result of this you can do so in the module change window.

Full module specification

Module title:Public Finance
Module code:BEE2033
Module level:2
Academic year:2023/4
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Javier Garcia-Brazales - Lecturer
  • Dr Shaun Grimshaw - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:



BEE1029 or BEE1034 or (BEE1036 and BEE1037)  



Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Duration (weeks) - term 3:


Module aims

The aim of this module is to reinforce students’ ability to undertake economic analysis and to apply it to a whole range of policy issues relating to the public sector. By the end of the module students will be able to analyse the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of public sector activity and assess particular suggestions for improvement. On the revenue side, the module aims to enable individuals to analyse particular taxes and proposed tax reforms in terms of efficiency and equity and other criteria as appropriate.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. explain the role of the public sector
  • 2. analyse important issues in public expenditure
  • 3. analyse important issues in taxation
  • 4. explain and discuss the principles, policy and practice relating to major taxes

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. deal with issues of public finance using both theoretical and empirical contributions

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. analyse critically issues in both theoretical and practical contexts
  • 7. develop written communication skills

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities5Tutorials
Guided Independent Study123Reading, research, reflection, preparation for exams.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class tutorial questionsVaried1-7In-class feedback
Online taskVaried1-7In-class feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual Assignment251000 words1-7Written feedback
Individual Assignment753000 words1-7Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual assignment Individual assignment (25%) (1,000 words)1-7August Reassessment Period
Individual assignment Individual assignment (75%) (3,000 words)1-7August Reassessment Period

Syllabus plan

• The Role of the Public Sector
• Principles of Taxation
• Issues of Public Expenditure
• Taxation Policy and Practice

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Gruber, J. (2022). Public Finance and Public Policy (7th ed). Macmillan Learning.

Rosen, H. S., & Geyer, T. (2014). Public Finance (10th ed). McGraw Hill Education.

Cullis, J. & Jones, P. (2009). Public Finance and Public Choice (3rd ed). Oxford University Press

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Origin date


Last revision date