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Public Service Reform: Economic & Political Perspectives - SPY00006M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Enrico Reuter
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • To introduce students to a powerful and flexible set of economic principles that can be used as an aid to clear thinking about fundamental issues of public service reform, including (a) the case for and against public funding, (b) the case for and against reform, (c) the case for and against alternative strategies for reform.
  • To review economic theory and international evidence about four main strategies for public service reform: (1) contracting out, (2) performance management, (3) performance pay and (4) choice and competition.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module a student should be able to:

  • Understand the main market failures associated with any given public service, and present economic arguments for public funding of that service on grounds of efficiency and equity
  • Analyse the main government failures associated with any given public service, and present economic arguments for reform of that service on grounds of efficiency and equity
  • Provide a balanced and dispassionate assessment of the pros and cons of any given public service reform strategy for any given public service, based on an economically literate analysis of the policy objectives of reform and of the likely behavioural responses to reform by key players
  • Present argument and evidence to support their views about public service reform, as well as ideology and anecdote
  • Use the outcomes identified above to contribute to effective decision making and management of public services


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

The lead marker (the module tutor) will include comments about the content, structure, and evidence used etc. to provide you with constructive information that will enable you to improve on future work. The feedback a tutor can offer can be invaluable to your studies, so it is important you read this carefully.

Feedback will be given in three ways:

(1) Comments within the actual text will highlight specific points and examples that the marker wants to draw to your attention.

(2) The marking criteria will be highlighted to show how your assignment has been rated against those criteria. This will enable you to calibrate your performance against a consistent scale, and therefore to aim to improve in specific areas.

(3) Finally the marker will provide a narrative summary in which the main points will be set out and any major areas for improvement highlighted.

We aim to return your marked work to you within one month of its submission.

Indicative reading

Jenkinson, T. (2003)  Private finance, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 323-334.

Pirotta. G.A, (1997), Politics and public service reform in small states: Malta, Public Administration and Development, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 197-207

Pollitt, C. (2013). The Evolving Narratives of Public Management Reform, Public Management Review, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 899-922.

Stiglitz, J E. (2000) Economics of the public sector (3rd edition) Norton New York, USA

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students