UCL Department of Economics


Ethics in Applied Economics - ECON0033

ECON0033 > undergraduate module > 2019/20.

Taught by: Joanna Pasek, Wilfred Beckerman.
Intended teaching term: Term 1.
Credits: 15 (FHEQ Level 6).

Syllabus: Ethics in Applied Econ.
Year: 3.

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UCL Module Catalogue: ethics-in-applied-economics/ECON0033.


The module will explore the ethical basis of economics, with special reference to applied microeconomics and environmental policy analysis. Key skills developed include critical thinking (in understanding the theory), active listening (in lectures and tutorial classes), written materials (through the essays), information skills (in preparing essays) and oral/visual presentation (in tutorial classes).


After completing the module students should:

  • Have acquired a good appreciation of the extent to which the analysis of certain major topics in applied economics rests on explicit or implicit ethical assumptions (for example the foundations of welfare economics, cost-benefit analysis, income distribution and environmental policy.
  • Show the necessary familiarity with the most important ethical theories (for example Kantianism, contractarianism, utilitarianism).
  • Have the ability to bring ethical reasoning to bear on applied economic problems.

Suitable for

  • Final year Economics (L100 / L101 / L102);
  • Econ/Geog (LL17);
  • Econ/Stats (LG13);
  • and Phil/Econ (VL51) students.


The main prerequisite is ECON0013: Microeconomics.

Assumed knowledge

Basic laws of supply and demand, and the way they enter into the price mechanism, as well as elementary macro-economics. familiarity with the concepts of economic equality and the criteria for the efficient allocation of resources in the economy would also be useful.  

Teaching and assessment

  • 20 hours of lectures, supplemented by 4 compulsory tutorial classes and written essays or tests. Assessment is a 2-hour unseen written examination in Term 3.
  • Affiliate students leaving in December will take a 2-hour written examination set up by the Department in the last week of Term 1. Affiliate students leaving in June will take the 2-hour written examination in Term 3.