• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Political Sciences, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Shawn Treier
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course examines the application of public choice theory to problems in politics including political conflicts, decision-making, political institutions and ways of improving public policy making.  Public choice theory seeks to account for the behaviour of individuals in non-market environments using simple models of political decision-making seeking to look beneath the surface phenomena of political institutions and processes to discover the mechanisms for which political outcomes emerge.  It shows how well-meaning politicians and policies can end up with inefficient outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. debate the assumptions and limitations of public choice theory and apply the ‘tools’ associated with the theory;
  2. use the core arguments of public choice and the principles of spatial analysis to explore and analyse political situations, institutions and complex political processes in liberal democracies; and
  3. demonstrate the ability to think and write coherently, logically, and creatively about public choice and politics in the academic style associated with the discipline

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Three assignments (600-700 words each) (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Research Paper: (2000-2500 words) (30) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Final Exam (3 hours) (40) [LO 1,2,3]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 24 hours of contact over 12 weeks: combination of lectures and tutorials; and b) 104 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed POLS1002, or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Kenneth A. Shepsle Analyzing Politics London WW Norton 2ed

Andrew Hindmoor and Brad Taylor Rational Choice Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan 2nd

Preliminary Reading

Dennis C. Muller Public Choice III Cambridge Cambridge University Press

Tim Besley Principle Agents? Oxford: Oxford University Press

Torsten Perrsson and Guido Tabellini The Economic Effects of Institutions Cambridge: MIT Press

Hannu Nurmi Models of Political Economy London: Routledge



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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2020 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
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
2759 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

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