The Economics of Social Issues

Module code: ECN221

This module considers topics in the economics of social issues and contemporary economic problems. For example, topics may include how to measure societal wellbeing, and the economics of education and crime.

The module complements material covered in ECN201 and provides an introduction to topics covered in more detail in specialist third year modules.

Much of the economic tools used to evaluate economic theories and government policies are empirical methods, and this is reflected in the course material. A workshop is dedicated to basic microeconometric methods and lecturers will, as usual, try to explain concepts intuitively even if these are more concisely expressed using mathematical/statistical tools.

Aims of the module

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to an economic analysis of some important social issues and measures of wellbeing
  • develop students' knowledge of microeconomic and microeconometric analysis within the context of public policy issues
  • develop critical reasoning skills

Learning objectives

At the end of the module students should be able to:

  • apply economic principles to the analysis of social issues and measures of wellbeing
  • evaluate evidence concerning social issues and wellbeing
  • critically appraise policy interventions in relation to social issues and wellbeing


Topics covered may include the economics of wellbeing, education, and crime.

Please note there will be a new lecturer teaching on the module in 2016–17. Therefore some of the topics are likely to change.

Teaching methods

Two hours of lectures per week, plus workshops and tutorials


Coursework (25%) and an unseen examination (75%)

Basic reading

There is no single textbook that is suitable for this course. Reading material will include chapters in various textbooks and academic journal articles.

Prerequisites ECN130

Module leader Anita Ratcliffe

Semester Autumn

Credits 20