Course content

This course is equivalent with ECON4620 - Public Economics I.

The main objective of the course is to discuss the use of taxes and public expenditures for promoting socially efficient resource allocation and a desirable income distribution. The analysis of tax policy will highlight on the one hand harmful market effects of taxes and on the other hand the role of taxes in supporting public provision of goods and services. On the expenditure side, assessment of public projects is essential. The course will cover central theories and empirical basis for economic policy.

Learning outcome

You should know

  • central concepts and basic models of modern public economics based on second best welfare theory
  • major actual policies and examples of issues currently on the political agenda
  • key concepts characterising types, properties, and effects of taxes and describing publicly provided goods, market imperfections, and second best constraints
  • key models such as the Mirrlees model of taxation with  extensions
  • major principles of cost-benefit analysis

You should be able to

  • explain the economic contents and trade-offs captured by the models
  • discuss the assumptions, relevance, and limitations of the models
  • identify and analyse policy problems in public economics
  • assess arguments appearing in the policy debate

You should

  • be able to read and understand project reports and journal articles that make use of the concepts and methods that are introduced in the course
  • be able to make use of the course content in your own academic work, for example in analyses that are part of the master’s thesis


Students at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

You can not attend this course if you have already passed specific ECON-courses at a higher level.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Recommended previous knowledge

The course is based on prior knowledge in welfare theory and microeconomics corresponding to ECON3610 - Samfunnsøkonomisk lønnsomhet og økonomisk politikk and ECON3120 - Mathematics 2: Calculus and Linear Algebra/ECON4120 - Mathematics 2: Calculus and Linear Algebra

Overlapping courses

  • 10 credits overlap with ECON4620 - Public Economics I
  • 10 credits overlap with ECON495 Public economics
  • 10 credits overlap with SOØ495/SØK496 Offentlig økonomi


Lectures: 2 hours per week throughout the semester.

Seminars: 2 hours per week through parts of the semester.


A 3-hour written school exam.

Previous exams

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.



The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

There are restrictions on resitting this exam. See further information about resitting an exam.

Students who might wish to retake the exam later, are not guaranteed that the course is ever repeated with a similar reading list, nor that the exam arrangement will be the same.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

ECON4620 - Public Economics I is the course number for registration for lecture, seminar and exam for the master's students. ECON3620 - Public Economics I is the course number for the bachelor's students.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language