• 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 Thiago Nascimento da Silva
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

Similar to how economists portray individuals making choices in the private market, political scientists can represent political agents as self-interested rational maximisers when making choices in the public market. This approach, called public choice, involves the use of economic tools in political science research. By integrating rational choice, social choice, and game theory, this course provides a comprehensive overview of public choice and its theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of various political phenomena, such as state formation, democratic decision-making, collective action, public goods and distributive politics, voting methods and electoral systems, party competition, political behaviour, coalition governance, and interstate conflicts. Throughout the course, we will explore the extent to which the political realm differs from the economic realm, the relationship between individual self-interest and collective welfare, and how variations in institutional design can significantly impact the outcome of collective decision-making processes.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify and debate the assumptions and limitations of public choice theory applied to political science research;
  2. apply and critically analyse the principles of public choice theory to evaluate and interpret diverse political behaviour, institutions, and democratic decision-making processes; and
  3. develop 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. Tutorial Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Four Assignments (List of Exercises) (40) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Research Paper (1000 words) (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Final Exam (30) [LO 1,2,3]

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) 34 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 10 hours of tutorials; and

b) 96 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

Shepsle, Kenneth A. 2010. Analyzing Politics. London: W. W. Norton. [Second Edition.]

Preliminary Reading

  • Riker, William H. 1988. Liberalism against populism. Long Grove: Waveband Press. [Reissued Edition.]
  • Johnson, David B. 1991. Public Choice: An Introduction to the new political economy. London: WCB/McGraw-Hill.
  • Hindmoor, Andrew. 2006. Rational Choice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Butler, Eamonn. 2012. Public Choice: A Primer. London: Institute of Economic Affairs.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6000
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
2350 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

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