Economics (ECON) 380

Public Finance/Expenditure (Revision 3)

ECON 380 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science; can also be taken toward Applied Studies (Business and Administrative Studies) by credential students only

Prerequisite: ECON 247 or equivalent

Centre: Faculty of Business

ECON 380 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course discusses the basic economics tools required to evaluate government policies for expenditures on health care, public pensions, Employment Insurance, education, and social welfare programs. The course has been divided into two parts. The first part (units 1–3; lessons 1–8) addresses the common causes of market failure as well as the ways in which government can intervene to correct such failures. Emphasis is placed on the theory of public choice, cost-benefit analysis, externalities, and income distribution. The second part of the course (units 4–5; lessons 9–13) addresses how the tools discussed in the first part can be applied to evaluate social insurance and social welfare policies.


  • Unit 1: The Meaning of Public Finance
  • Unit 2: Market Failure and Income Redistribution Implications of Public Policy
  • Unit 3: Political Economy
  • Unit 4: Social Insurance Program Expenditures (Health Care, Employment Insurance, and Public Pensions)
  • Unit 5: Social Welfare and Education Programs


Your final grade in ECON 380 will be based on three quizzes, two written assignments, an essay assignment with online discussion activities, and the Final Examination. To receive credit for this course, you must achieve an overall course grade of 50 percent. In addition, you must achieve a grade of at least a D (50 percent) on the Final Examination.

Completing the quizzes, assignments, and online discussion is not required in order to pass the course. However, these activities have been designed to help you prepare for the examination. Students who choose not to complete the assignments often experience difficulties with the examination. Keep in mind that if you fail to participate in the online discussion or submit an assignment or quiz before your contract date, you will receive a grade of nil for that activity.

The following table summarizes the weight that will be applied to each assessment activity in determining your final grade.

Activity Weighting
Quiz 1 5%
Quiz 2 5%
Quiz 3 5%
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 Online Discussion 10%
Final Exam 55%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Rosen, H. S., Wen, J-F., & Snoddon, T. (2016). Public finance in Canada (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Ryerson. ISBN:  9781259030772

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ECON 380 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, November 9, 2016.

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