• Offered by International and Development Economics Program
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject International and Developmental Economics
  • Areas of interest Economics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Leo Dobes
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

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The objective of Cost-Benefit Analysis is to provide decision-makers with information about the social value of government-sponsored programs, projects and policies, so that they can allocate resources in a way that improves the well-being of society as a whole.  The course covers  the key concepts and tools that are essential for the evaluation of government activity by applying cost-benefit techniques, including under conditions of uncertainty.  Case studies are employed to give students the confidence and insights required to undertake their individual assignment.  Alternative decision-making approaches will also be presented to provide a perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of cost-benefit analysis.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this course, students will have: 

  • a solid understanding of the basic rationale and techniques for applying cost-benefit analysis to government-sponsored programs, policies and projects. 
  • the ability to plan and implement a cost-benefit study;
  • the ability to understand and critique a cost-benefit study prepared by someone else.

Other Information





week 1

24 July

overview and conceptual issues

week 2

31 July

microeconomic underpinnings

week 3

7 August

valuing benefits and costs

week 4

14 August

time preference and net present value

week 5

21 August

social discount rates

week 6

28 August

valuation of impacts

week 7

4 September

valuing impacts from observed behaviour


11 and 18 September

no classes

week 8

25 September

valuing impacts using stated preference

Mid-term test: to be notified

week 9

2 October

shadow pricing

week 10

9 October

risk and uncertainty

week 11

16 October

uncertainty and options

week 12

23 October

alternative evaluation approaches and distributional issues

week 13

30 October

revision of selected issues

Indicative Assessment



Mode of Submission

Due Date / Time


Mid-term exam

1.5 hours


7-23 November: time and place to be advised

40 %

Individual assignment

maximum 5,000 words, 18 pages

Paper, and via Turnitin

week 9: close of business 30 September

55 %

Lecture summary

one page maximum


to be advised in class

5 %

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The IDEC 8088 course involves attendance at a weekly lecture of three hours (including a half hour break), plus a weekly tutorial of one hour.  Tutorial times and venues will be determined in the first week of the semester.

Prescribed Texts

Boardman, AE, Greenberg, DH, Vining, AR & Weimer DL 2010, Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and practice, 4th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Preliminary Reading

The main text for the course is Boardman, AE, Greenberg, DH, Vining, AR & Weimer DL 2010, Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and practice, 4th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey. 


Cost Benefit Analysis covers a broad range of topics, so that a single text may not cover all relevant material.  Supplementary material will therefore be used in the course.  The following texts contain additional material that will be useful for some sections of the course, especially if students wish to explore a specific topic in more detail.  A Reading Brick is also available.


Department of Finance and Administration 2006, Handbook of Cost-Benefit Analysis, Financial Management Reference Material no. 6, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.  <http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/finance-circulars/2006/docs/Handbook_of_CB_analysis.pdf>


Gramlich, EM 1990, A guide to Benefit-Cost Analysis, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. 


Luskin, D & Dobes, L 1999, Facts and furphies in benefit-cost analysis: transport, Research Report 100, Bureau of Transport Economics, Canberra.  Downloadable at <http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/1999/report_100.aspx>


Mishan, EJ & Quah, E 2007, Cost Benefit Analysis, 5th edn, Routledge, Oxford.


Pearce, DW & Nash, CA 1981, The social appraisal of projects.  A text in Cost-Benefit Analysis, Macmillan, London. 


Perkins, F 1994, Practical Cost Benefit Analysis, Macmillan Education, South Melbourne.


Sinden, JA & Thampapillai, DJ 1995, Introduction to benefit-cost analysis, Longman Australia, Melbourne.  http://library.anu.edu.au/record=b2520009


Zhuang, J, Liang, J, Lin, T, & De Guzman, F 2007, Theory and Practice in the Choice of Social Discount Rate for Cost-Benefit Analysis: a Survey, ERD Working Paper 94, Asian Development Bank, Manila.  Downloadable <http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2007/WP094.pdf>

Assumed Knowledge

IDEC 8088 is designed specifically for Masters level students.  IDEC Graduate Diploma students should enrol under the course code IDEC 8001.  Non-IDEC students should seek advice from their own area before enrolling in either course.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1338
2014 $3582
2013 $3582
2012 $3582
2011 $3576
2010 $3570
2009 $3570
2008 $3402
2007 $3132
2006 $3084
2005 $3084
2004 $2160
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3672
2014 $4146
2013 $4140
2012 $4140
2011 $4134
2010 $4134
2009 $4002
2008 $4002
2007 $3864
2006 $3864
2005 $3864
2004 $3864
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4889 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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