Education Economics

Module code: ECN304

People's decisions are influenced by the level of education they have received. Education relates to issues such as health and labour market decisions. We will examine the demand for and provision of education, incorporating a mixture of economic theory and empirical evidence.

Aims of the module

The module aims to help students understand the workings of the market for education and training along with an understanding of the rationale behind the introduction of government educational policies. A range of skills is developed for constructively analysing the effectiveness and outcomes of educational programmes.

Learning objectives

At the end of the module the students should:

  • understand the methods of applied and theoretical economics in the context of the provision and demand for education and training
  • apply theoretical and quantitative methods to the analysis of current and historical educational policies
  • appreciate the problems faced by policymakers when empirical evidence is mixed, for example, class size and pupil performance
  • understand how education fits into macroeconomic models of growth


The course will focus on the demand for and provision of education and training. Within this module we will examine theories of education, such as human capital; rates of return to further and higher education and course type all of which directly relate to the labour market. Macroeconomic new growth theories are considered using empirical evidence. The graduate labour market is analysed, incorporating changes in the provision of higher education and an understanding of the rationale for current controversial educational policies, such as, the introduction of top-up fees.

A final section considers schools, analysing and evaluating issues such as class size reduction, competition and selection, the performance of teachers, and the importance of pupils' family background, all in terms of their effect on pupil performance.

Teaching methods

Two lectures per week (20 hours) and five two-hour workshops (10 hours)



One two-hour examination (75%), coursework (20%), group presentation (5%)

Basic reading

We advise you not to buy books before the module begins, as the reading list may change. If you wish to read in advance, look for these texts in the University library

Specific readings will be given for each topic within this module but a basic overview of many of the topics is given in Machin, S; Vignoles, A (2005) What's the Good of Education? Princeton University Press

Prerequisites ECN201 and ECN202

Module leader Pamela Lenton

Please note that the leader may change before the module begins

Semester Spring

Credits 20