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Economic Analysis and Pandemics

Module description

This module will focus on the economics of pandemics, from the past (e.g. 1918-19 influenza) to the present (2019-20 novel coronavirus) to the future (???). You will not only learn about traditional economic and public policy approaches to valuing lives, livelihoods, and externalities, but also less traditional approaches such as measuring well-being, ethical trade-offs between health & wealth, and how to discount the future when we aren’t sure who if anyone will exist. Although the primary example throughout will be pandemic diseases, much of the framework can also be applied to (for instance) inequality or climate change. 

Full module specification

Module title:Economic Analysis and Pandemics
Module code:BEE3070
Module level:3
Academic year:2023/4
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Daniele Rinaldo - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:



There are no pre-requisites for this module but students without some exposure to economics and/or rigorous analytical thinking may find they need to do some additional reading.



Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

Overall this module aims to provide you with an understanding of how economists analyse global social issues that cross sectoral boundaries, with a particular emphasis on public health and infectious disease. You will be able to separate first-order effects from lower priority considerations, and to apply economic reasoning to difficult problems which raise methodological, political, and normative / philosophical issues. The goal is not to produce a single correct answer to any given question, but to appreciate and be transparent about what data or other inputs are needed and what conclusions are likely to follow from various sets of assumptions or priorities. This will be accomplished through a mix of readings, lectures, tutorial discussions, guest speakers, and small-group projects with presentations.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. critically review, analyse and make links between economic and epidemiologic approaches to pandemics;
  • 2. explain how economics complements and to some extent incorporates the potential contributions of other disciplines in the context of social welfare and health-related public policy;
  • 3. critically review and discuss a range of academic and non-academic papers reflecting on the full set of costs and benefits arising from different interventions or responses to disease outbreaks.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. critically evaluate and formulate a well-founded answer to a specific topical research-related question.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. deliver coherent arguments in written work;
  • 6. demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills;
  • 7. work as a team to formulate strategy based on theoretical perspectives and empirical data.

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 Activity22These will be in lecture format
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity5These will be in tutorial format
Guided Independent Study123This will be in the form of directed reading in preparation for both lectures and tutorials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial exercises 50 minutes1-6In class
Feedback on group & essay ideasas needed1-7email & office hours

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 essay502,000 words1-6Written comments
Group slides + oral presentation3515 minutes1-4,6-7Written and verbal feedback given to feedback and individuals
Process reflection / peer feedback for groups15500 words3, 6, 7Written comments

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual essay (50%)Individual essay (50%, 2000 words)1-7August/September Reassessment Period
Group slides + oral presentation (35%)Individual slides + oral presentation (35%)2-4,6-7August/September Reassessment Period
Process reflection (15%)Process reflection (15%)3,6-7August/September Reassessment Period

Re-assessment notes


Syllabus plan

  • Basics of economics and of infectious disease epidemiology / public health
  • Fundamentals of economic valuation, cost-benefit analysis, and cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Economic analysis of the impact of pandemics and of responses thereto
  • Ethical, normative, and policy prioritisation
  • Guest lectures and student group presentations

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Fan VY, Jamison DT, and Summers L (2018). “The Loss from Pandemic Influenza Risk”, ch 18 in Disease Control Priorities (3rd ed), edited by DT Jamison et al.

Broadbent A (March 9, 2020). “Thinking Rationally about Coronavirus COVID-19”,

Ray D, Subramanian S, and Vandewalle L (April 2020). “India’s Lockdown”, CEPR Policy Insight No.102.

Jamison JC (April 20, 2020). “Lockdowns Will Starve People in Low-income Countries”,

Rasul I (2020). “The Economics of Viral Outbreaks”, AEA Papers & Proceedings110: 265-8.

Singer P and Chappell RY (April 27, 2020). “Pandemic Ethics: The Case for Experiments on Human Volunteers”,


Other resources:

Suggested academic journal and other articles will be made available on ELE.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date