Courses

Below, you will find the courses of the Master's programma Economic Policy.

You can also download the year schedule Economic Policy (pdf) to get an overview of all courses in this Master's programme. Please note that the names of the courses may change next year.

Period 1

Empirical Economics (compulsory)

The course in Empirical Economics is a methodological and supportive course that prepares students for doing empirical research. This course provides an overview of the main econometric methods, in which understanding is reached through their application to specific data sets. It pays attention to the econometric analysis of cross-section, time-series, and panel data. Economic topics relevant for the various Master programmes are discussed.

The starting point of the course is the linear regression model applied to cross section data and that will be reviewed intensively. In the next weeks estimation methods of time series and forecasting, panel data, instrumental variables, and limited dependent variables model will be discussed.

The econometric software package Stata is used throughout this course. Stata is used for the illustration of the theoretical concepts at the lectures and needed to make the tutorial exercises.

Format
Lectures (2 hours per week) and tutorials (2 hours per week).

Assessment method
An individual exam. This is a closed book exam and a formula card will be provided. (100%, individual)

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Sustainable Growth and Inequality (compulsory)

In the last 50 years, many developed and developing countries have shown impressive rates of economic growth, generating substantial welfare increases. This period of economic growth has also coincided with increased levels of intra- and international inequality, however. In this course, we examine the main theories and evidence on economic growth and inequality and we study their interrelationships. In extension to this, the course analyses the criteria and contents of policy making on sustainable economic growth, where the gains from economic growth are shared more equally within society.

Format

  • Weekly lectures on the core material.
  • Weekly tutorials discussing the core material and additional academic papers, prepared and led by students.

Assessment method (*)

• Essay (50% of the final grade)
• Final exam (50% of the final grade)

(*) Students are allowed to write their essay in English or in Dutch. The final written exam is in English only.
In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Public Economics and Policy (compulsory)

This course studies how government taxing and spending activities affect the economy, with a focus on economic efficiency and the distribution of income and wealth. Market failures such as public goods, externalities and asymmetric information are discussed in depth, as well as different forms of taxation, including tax evasion. The course is meant to give a solid theoretical background from an economic point of view on a broad range of public policy issues.

Format
Mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Assessment method

  • Final exam (100% of the final exam)

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Period 2

Labour Market Policies and the Future of Work (compulsory)

This course studies how institutions affect labour market outcomes, such as unemployment, participation, migration and wage inequality. We will investigate the labour market effects of a variety of institutions, including unemployment insurance systems, education policies, minimum wages, employment protection legislation and migration policies. Questions that will be addressed are: which active labour market policies are effective in reducing unemployment? Do immigration flows – such as the recent influx of refugees – have an impact on wages and employment opportunities of natives? How does employment protection legislation (‘flexibility’) affect a country’s labour market performance? How do processes such as globalisation and technological change (‘robotisation’) change the future of work?

The course consists of two central elements: first, the course provides a state of the art overview of the literature on labour economics and the impact of institutions on labour markets. During the course you will not only apply theories from modern labour economics, but also study empirical findings on the impact of labour market policies. Specific attention will be paid to policy evaluation methods: how do recent studies estimate the causal effect of policy reforms? This course will thereby increase your understanding of how institutions affect labour market outcomes. Second, during the course you will write an empirical research paper (instructions on data access will be provided during the course). This allows you to improve your writing skills as well as your skills in data management and analysis.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:
• Independently evaluate labour economic issues and the relevant literature;
• Analyse how institutions affect labour markets;
• Advise about the economic consequences of reforms of labour market institutions;
• Write an empirical research paper.

Format
Combination of lectures, tutorials and paper sessions.

Assessment method
• Written exam (60%, individual);
• Empirical research paper (40%)

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Policy Competition in an International World (compulsory)

The course gives an overview of the international macroeconomic framework in which economic and social policy can operate. With this it builds on the general course on macroeconomics. Furthermore, it shows the constraints and possibilities for national economic and social policy for different policy fields, such as welfare policy, which are presented in other courses of the curriculum.

With increasing internationalisation and mobility of capital, politics are put under more and more pressure. Firms threaten to relocate; tax havens emerge in order to attract investors.
Different types of countries reacted differently to these international challenges. Some have entered tax competition to try to reduce effective tax rates in order to attract companies. Some have cut back on welfare arrangements in order to invest more into business, others have reduced the influence of the public sector. This course analyses whether countries should compete with regard to taxes, labour standards, regulatory norms, welfare expenditures and social provisions, and what the potential effects of such policy competition are. Will there be a race to the bottom or will other outcomes be more likely within Europe? We will analyse this problem under theoretical and empirical aspects.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate political economic phenomena;
  • Apply economic models of competition to international policy areas;
  • Co-operate with other students in solving problems;
  • Advise about economic consequences of social situations;
  • Co-operate professionally;
  • Present conclusions and also present the knowledge and motivation on which this is based to a team of specialists and non-specialists;
  • Set up and implement a theoretical/empirical study.

Format
Lectures, tutorials and paper sessions.

Assessment method

  • Written exam based on the basic literature used (30%, individual);
  • Write a research paper (40%, group);
  • Discussion and presentation of the paper (30%).

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

EP Research Project (compulsory)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to academic research. Students are first exposed to ongoing research projects. Researchers present work-in-progress and elaborate on their research strategy. What does the literature have to say about the research question at hand? Why is the research question relevant? What is the research about? What is the gap in the literature? And so on. Students will be exposed to different research methodologies and will be able to assess which type of methodology is suitable for a specific research question. If available, some preliminary research results will be presented. Each student is then challenged to formulate their own research question about a topic of their interest. For that students first have to conduct a literature review relevant for their research topic. Next, each student formulates their own research question that subsequently will be presented and discussed in class. Students are also expected to develop their research strategy: (i) theoretical, (ii) empirical, (iii) experimental, or any combination. In addition to formulating a research problem and suggesting a research methodology, students will discuss each other’s research ideas, in order to stimulate critical thinking and develop their analytical skills.
Format
Weekly meetings: combination of group meetings and individual meetings with the coordinator of the course.

Assessment method

  • Research project proposal (60%, individual). The following parts will be assessed: Title, literature review, research question, relevance and proposed research approach.
  • Presentation (20%, individual). This grade is based on the two presentations in this course; the presentation of the literature review and the presentation of the research proposal.
  • Discussion and lecture notes (20%, individual). This grade is based on the feedback given (written and verbally) on the research proposal of peers and the short notes of the lectures.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Period 3 - Choose two electives from the list*, but at least one of the following

Energy and Environmental Economics

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Research on global climate change, geopolitical considerations and environmental degradation has established the necessity and desirability of a transition towards a more environmentally and strategically sustainable energy system. At the other end, scientists and engineers have developed many options and technologies that would make this transition feasible. Still, the transition is taking place at a painstakingly slow pace, if at all. As energy is such a fundamental input in modern economies, the challenge of bringing this transition about is huge.

This is not a standard academic course in environmental and energy economics, where you read a book, follow lectures, do exercises and write an exam. The course is open to all MSc-programs offered at U.S.E. and will therefore not offer further specialisation in the topic of any specific MSc-program. Rather, in this course we challenge you to apply what you have learned and to do so in collaboration with people from very different backgrounds and specialisations on a real-world problem. In multidisciplinary teams, you will work on developing policy proposals that address challenges in the energy transition for the Netherlands. These challenges will be set by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands and the policy proposals developed during the course will be presented at a conference where policy makers will evaluate your work. In working on this challenge, you will see how your academic knowledge of economics can be fruitfully applied to real-world problems. But you will also (hopefully) learn about the many things you do not know. To some extent, those gaps can (and should) be addressed with self-study and desk research. But often it is more efficient and more fun simply to work with people that can complement you, as you will very often in your future career. To achieve the inherently multidisciplinary approach required for complex real-world challenges, you will work intensively with MSc-students from different MSc-programs at USE and even from other faculties, such as geosciences and energy science.

Learning objectives

  • Combine theory and empirical skills learned earlier to the issues related to energy production and use;
  • Identify where knowledge gaps are present and effectively address these;
  • Critically evaluate work of others on these dimensions;
  • Formulate and complete a scientifically researched policy proposal on energy transition.

Format
Lectures, guest lectures, discussion meetings and assignment.

Assessment method

  • Written assignment (80%). This is an individually graded group assignment: the students write an individual policy proposal that is integrated into a joint policy paper. They are graded individually on the policy proposal and jointly on the introductory parts (identification of major challenges) and joint conclusion, the presentation at the conference and the discussant role they take on other papers.
  • Participation in group discussions (20%) through peer evaluation.

Prerequisites
Course is eligible to all students. The course includes writing an advisory report, so it will be advantageous to have some affinity and skills with regard to drafting a report.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Economics of Global Challenges

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Global challenges, like climate change, inequality, and poverty cannot be solved from the perspective of just one discipline. Increasingly, economists are engaging in multidisciplinary collaborations and integrating insights from other disciplines to inform research and offer policy advice. And, economists are increasingly using field experiments to test what works and why in real-life settings, often working directly with policy makers. In this course, economic theory meets practice around key challenges facing the globe today, with a focus on global poverty, skills, entrepreneurship, peace & recovery, and climate change, and a focus on lower and middle income countries.

Students will first learn about impact evaluation methods, going in-depth into designing randomised control trials (RCTs), including its application in Stata, and getting an overview of quasi-experimental methods (differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, and regression discontinuity design). Students will also learn about the growing role of impact evaluations in policy discussions around global challenges and the institutional challenges to affect policy in practice.

The course then covers sequentially five global challenges, one per week. Each week starts with a macro-perspective: What is the global scale of these challenges, and how do these translate into regional differences? How can economic theory inform our understanding of these challenges? And, how are insights from other disciplines enriching our understanding? This macro perspective is then followed by a micro perspective: How can theory guide the design of policy and program interventions addressing these challenges? And, how are economists using field experiments, often in collaboration with scientists from other fields, to test policy and program effectiveness in practice, and to shed further light on the underlying mechanisms?

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Synthesize insights from economic theory and other disciplines to inform our understanding of global challenges
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of impact evaluation (IE) methods.
  • Apply knowledge of IE methods to design field experiments addressing global challenges.
  • Apply knowledge of IE methods to analyse data collected in a field experiment.

Format
Lectures and active class discussions based on lectures and assigned readings, including student presentations.

Assessment method

  • Midterm exam covering impact evaluation methods (40%, individual);
  • Presentation (20%, group);
  • A paper laying out a detailed (funding) proposal for an impact evaluation by a multi-disciplinary research team (40%, individual).

Prerequisites

Highly recommended entry knowledge: Empirical economics MSc Course

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Behavioural Economics and Public Policy

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Our global society faces a number of challenges: an aging population, unemployment, increasing inequality, climate change, poverty, declining resources. Most of these challenges are rooted in the dilemma of diverging individual and collective rationality. Acknowledging these challenges, the EU adopted in 2009 a strategy for sustainable development which aims at meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “But sustainable development will not be brought about by policies only: it must also be taken up by society at large.” (EU, 2009) This, however, requires profound changes in thinking and behaviour, in consumption and production patterns, and in economic and social structures.

Policymakers have encountered substantial difficulties over the past decades trying to induce producers and consumers to change behaviours and to adopt new, more sustainable technologies, even when these behaviours appear to be in the consumers’ or producers’ own financial interests. Traditional policy instruments, i.e. monetary incentives, are costly and not always effective. Individuals decide as “Humans” rather than as “Econs” (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008): While “Econs” may not make perfect forecasts, they at least make unbiased forecasts. And they respond primarily to monetary incentives—their decisions are not affected by seemingly “irrelevant” factors such as the display of a set of alternatives, or the order in which options are offered. In contrast, “Humans” make systematic and predictable errors—their forecasts are flawed and biased in systematic ways.

Therefore, a growing body of research in psychology and behavioural economics suggests that interventions that take into account these systematic biases can potentially be just as powerful in changing choices and behaviour as interventions that are based on standard economic theory. What is more, they are potentially much less costly. As a consequence, an increasing number of government institutions (most famously the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team) dedicate themselves to the application of behavioural insights. With a growing emphasis on evidence-based policy making, an ever increasing number of behaviourally informed interventions gets tested in the field.

In this course we will study the challenges and opportunities for using behavioural insights in policy making. The course follows a two-fold structure: During the lectures we will study and discuss main behavioural theories and concepts. The tutorials focus on randomised controlled trials, which are often considered to be the “gold standard” for knowing whether policy interventions work in the field. The two aspects of the course combine in the course assignment, for which groups of students are expected to design a behaviourally informed policy intervention as well as a field experiment to test its effectiveness.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Set out the most robust (non-coercive) influences on behaviour;
  • Demonstrate how behavioural theory can help meet current policy challenges;
  • Identify the relevant tools for changing specific behaviour;
  • Design a policy intervention using behavioural insights;
  • Understand the role of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for evidence based policy making;
  • Understand most essential research methods for field experiments;
  • Assess potential for controversy, assess legitimacy of using behavioural insights for policy making.

Format

  • Lectures, tutorials
  • Lectures focus on the discussion of main behavioural theories.
  • Tutorials cover major aspects of experiment design, analysis, and interpretation.

Assessment method

  • Assignment: Intervention design (50%, group)
  • 4 mini-MC tests (50%, individual)

Teams of 3-4 students are expected to be prepared each week to possibly present their progress regarding the design of an intervention for behaviour change and discuss their progress in class. The grade will be based on the final handed-in written work.

Prerequisites
None. Course is eligible to all students.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

* Electives list Period 3

Mergers and Acquisitions

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are frequently in the news and a prominent part of daily business in the life of many executives. Yet, most mergers and acquisitions fail from an important economics perspective – the creation of shareholder value – suggesting an apparent merger paradox. On the one hand, the explosive growth in the number, size, and complexity of mergers and acquisitions in recent decades demonstrates how ingrained this kind of business combinations have become in the global business community. The number of acquisitions made by firms worldwide has skyrocketed over the last 20 years: in 2017 alone, companies have spent US$ 3.7 trillion in acquisitions. Yet, managers often report dissatisfaction with the outcomes of merger deals which is why a significant number are divested or lead to the dissolution of the companies involved. As such, this course focuses on why mergers take place – even while at other times they seem to be totally irrational –, how they can be managed, and what role regulation can play in this form of market restructuring. Next to being an important factor in the economy, M&As also represent a major area in strategic management, finance and organization. Because of this, the course brings together many different disciplines within economics and business that are essential to fully understand, analyze, and manage takeovers.
FormatThe course contains a common part for all students (weeks 1-4) and is then divided into two tracks having different orientations (weeks 5-9). The first track analyzes the M&A process from a strategy perspective looking at the determinants and implications of different strategic decisions throughout the merger process (Strategy track), whereas the second track delves into valuation techniques that enable the acquirer to correctly determine the offer price in an acquisition (Finance track). At the beginning of the course, all students have the chance to learn the basics of both M&A strategy and valuation; then, from mid-course (starting at week 5), students will follow lectures and seminars pertaining to either of the tracks. Students are required to choose the track to follow in the first week of the course. Assessment method

  • M&A planning and valuation report and presentation (40%, group)
  • Final examination (60%, individual)

Suggested reading materials:

  • Fundamentals of Corporate Finance (Brealey, Myers, Marcus; ISBN: 9789814670944).
  • Damodaran, A., (2010); The Little Book of Valuation; NYU Sterns School of Business

A more specific guideline on the most important concepts and reading suggestions will be published on blackboard at the beginning of the course. Throughout the course additional materials (for example: excel files or accounting examples) will be made available to help with the valuation assignment.

Mandatory course material:

  • DePampilis, D. Mergers and Acquisitions Basics ISBN: 9780123749482) [only for students in the Strategy track]
  • Damodaran, A. Damodaran on valuation: security analysis for investment and corporate finance (2nd edition) (ISBN: 9780471751212) [only for students in the Finance track]

The materials in the book will be complemented with some academic literature that will be provided to the students

Prerequisites
Students are assumed to be familiar with basic finance and accounting principles such as: cash flows, time value of money and discounting. Prior exposure to principles of equity ownership, basic governance and stock markets is also assumed. Suggested reading materials: Fundamentals of Corporate Finance (Brealey, Myers, Marcus; ISBN: 9789814670944). Damodaran, A., (2010); The Little Book of Valuation; NYU Sterns School of Business. A more specific guideline on the most important concepts and reading suggestions will be published on blackboard at the beginning of the course. Additional effort is required in the case your financial knowledge is limited.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Multinational Organisation

This course studies the behaviour of multinational firms from a multidisciplinary economics and business perspective. It reviews recent advances in international economics as well as leading business science paradigms of multinational behaviour using primary academic sources. These theories are placed in the context of their practical implications by using recent and relevant case studies so that students are equipped to use the theoretical framework for managerial decision making.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:
• Analyse and explain the behaviour of multinational firms in both theoretical and empirical terms;
• Absorb and apply recent theoretical advances in international economics and business for managerial decision making;
• Communicate on economic, business and managerial theories and empirical research in the area of multinational firms.

Format
Lectures and interactive case-discussion sessions. Prior to the case discussions, students are required to work in groups to answer case-related questions which are collected in short essays and graded at the end of the course. The course culminates a with a final exam focused on the topics of lectures and tutorials during which students are called to solve practical problems using their knowledge of the literature as a guiding tool.

Assessment method
• Case-based essays (50%, group)
• Final examination (50%, individual).

Prerequisites
None. Course is eligible to all students.
In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Entrepreneurial Finance

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

The aim of this course is to provide students with insights into the complexities of attracting financing for start-ups and entrepreneurial firms. We follow the life-cycle of a new venture and discuss the various sources of financing. We analyse the possibilities of crowdfunding in launching a new idea or venture in part one. We discuss the various forms of crowdfunding and how they can support a start-up. Part two discusses different forms of private equity financing, starting from more informal business angel financing towards more formal funding through venture capitalists or private equity funds. As young firms often burn a lot of cash before becoming profitable, we zoom in on financial planning, accounting measures and cash management. This is a very important aspect of firm survival and guiding the firm towards a more mature life-cycle phase. Part four discusses the exit possibilities for the founders, early investors and later-round investors. We discuss potential tensions between social values and financial values, between valuation and price of the venture. We analyse different valuation models to get more grip on the valuation process and gain insight in the negotiation process of selling a company. Finally, we discuss going public as an important exit channel for entrepreneurial firms. We discuss the transition process through which a private company becomes public by offering part of its equity to public shareholders. The course is case study driven.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Have insight into the mechanisms of crowdfunding
  • Have insight into various forms of private equity in funding an entrepreneurial firm
  • Understand the differences between business angels and venture capital
  • Be able to develop and read a financial plan and understand cash management of start-ups
  • Be able to conduct a basic valuation of a new venture.
  • Have a broad understanding of the IPO process (going public).

Format
A combination of lectures and seminars.

Assessment method
Final Exam (50%, individual)
Assignments (50%, group)

Prerequisites
Course is eligible to all students. It is assumed that the student has prior knowledge equivalent to the core course Topics in Corporate Finance.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Note: this course is only for U.S.E. students. For non-U.S.E. students, see ECMSE (7.5 ECTS).
It is a required elective of the Business Development and Entrepreneurship master, but it also fits well in the International Management master. If you are a student of BF, FM or EP and you consider choosing this course, please contact the coordinator.

Entrepreneurship focuses on identifying new opportunities for creating value for customers or users and commercially developing those opportunities to establish a profitable business.
Sustainable entrepreneurship combines the traditional focus of entrepreneurship with an emphasis on opportunities to alleviate social or environmental conditions. Sustainable entrepreneurship is about entrepreneurs striving simultaneously for profit and for improving local and global environmental and social conditions.

This course is addressed to students interested in exploring the challenges of sustainable entrepreneurship. The course will provide academic and practical insights into the entrepreneurial process and in particular:
• The opportunities and challenges of developing a new venture, given characteristics of the market and the institutional context;
• The challenges of aligning profits with social and environmental value;
The overall objective of this course is to make the students aware of the opportunities offered by an entrepreneurial career, the skills needed for and academic knowledge about entrepreneurial processes, in the context of sustainability. The course emphasizes the business & management perspectives to entrepreneurship.

Learning objectives
This course is designed to provide academic knowledge related to idea development, value proposition, market introduction and management of new sustainable business and to put these into practice. The major learning objectives include:
• To provide understanding of (sustainable) entrepreneurship (what entrepreneurship is, cognitive foundations of entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial opportunities, distinctive characteristics of entrepreneurs);
• To analyse and evaluate the economic sources of social and environmental problems and to identify opportunities to alleviate or eliminate these problems and the underlying conditions;
• To apply the accumulated knowledge by either developing a business model from scratch or by introducing an initially developed plan to the market by means of bootstrapping methods.
This necessitates that students understand the concepts of sustainability and sustainable entrepreneurship, and that students learn about the economic, environmental and social problems facing local and global communities and recognise the opportunities that arise from this. Finally, students should be able to evaluate the risks and rewards of undertaking sustainable entrepreneurship, which involves finding ways to measure the economic as well as social and environmental risks and rewards of a new venture.

Format
This course is an interactive and participatory course that teaches students the key concepts from theory to practice. It adopts a mix of lectures, tutorial sessions, workshops and activities related to the business model assignment. Students are expected to attend and participate in all lectures and take part in all tutorial sessions. The students will be allocated into groups (4 or 5 students) for the business model assignment. The aim is to establish a mix of students from various disciplines (this course coincides with ECMSE for master students Geosciences and other disciplines).

The elements that constitute the final grade are the following:

Business Model Assignment (group work):
Groups will either develop a business model from scratch, or introduce developed ideas to the market. This will be achieved in several steps throughout the course. The evaluation will be based on the quality of the final work, the presentation and the process towards the final document(s). Ideas developed in earlier courses (for instance in the track Business Development & Entrepreneurship: Research Project & Entrepreneurial Marketing) may be used as a starting point, as long as they fit with the contents of the course.

Written Exam (individual work):
There will be a midterm exam that consists of open-ended questions. The questions are based on the key course concepts that are taught and discussed during the course.

Assessment method
• Written midterm exam with open-ended questions (35%, individual)
• Evaluation of business model assignment (65%). Group grade, with a group component (50%) and an individual component (15%).

Prerequisites
None. Course is eligible to all students.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Management Control Systems

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

This course aims at providing students with a thorough understanding of the field of management accounting and management control. Managing organisations consists of two main functions, i.e., the decision making function and the decision control function. Decision making refers to management activities of deciding which goals should be pursued, which strategies to adopt, which departments and employees should be involved in executing the strategies, etc., for a certain time period. Decision control refers to management activities focused on stimulating employees to act in such a way that organisational goals will be achieved in an effective and efficient manner.

This course deals with methods and techniques that can be used to encourage employees to act in the desired manner, e.g., by awarding financial responsibilities to organisational units (responsibility centers); by setting targets for employees (target setting); through the use of direct supervision, employee selection, shared norms and values, and performance measures as alternative control mechanisms; by linking monetary rewards to performance measure outcomes (i.e., the provision of incentives); and so on. All topics will be looked at from a management control perspective, i.e., how can each topic contribute to the challenge of aligning the interests of an employee with the overall organisational objectives.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Have an understanding of the role of management control within organisations, and the relationships of management control with corporate governance, and so on.
  • Have an understanding of the potential contribution of management control perspectives for the overall management control within a firm (i.e., the potential advantages and disadvantages of management control elements).
  • Be able to apply management control perspectives to a real-life business setting, where a firm faces certain management control challenges.
  • Be able to extract the main findings from scientific articles on the field of management control, and to provide a basic assessment of the strength of these findings.
  • Have an understanding of the current mainstream management control research.

Format
This course typically has 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of seminars (except for the first week where there are 4 hours of lectures). In the lectures, the most relevant topics will be theoretically explained and illustrated through stylised examples. The seminars enable a more in-depth examination of the most relevant topics. Amongst other things selected articles and cases will be presented and discussed in class.

Assessment method

  • Final exam (70%, individual);
  • Group work (30%).

Prerequisites
Course is eligible to all students. It is assumed that the student has prior knowledge about basic finance and accounting concepts (as taught in any bachelor course in finance and accounting).

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Financial Regulation

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

The course Financial Regulation has been designed to introduce students to some of the key economic concepts, principles, and problems in the regulation of financial activities. The course deals both with the theoretical economic underpinnings of financial regulation as well as with the extant international regulatory framework, with a particular focus on Europe and the US. The course illustrates why financial intermediaries exist, how market failures affect the industry and how regulation attempts to deal with them. It presents the main international regulatory bodies and how they work. It covers the regulation of banking and financial markets activities, and how this is applied in practice. Finally, the severe challenges to regulation posed by the last financial crisis are discussed.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Apply the concepts of transaction costs, liquidity insurance, moral hazard, and adverse selection to financial markets and banking
  • Establish the link between theory and empirical and/or anecdotal evidence of financial markets failures
  • Explain the justification for, and impact and limitations of, financial regulation
  • Compute and interpret the key dimensions used in regulatory requirements for banks (Basel)
  • Understand and critically evaluate current advancements in the literature

Format
There will be lectures, seminars, and final presentations.

Assessment method

  • Final exam (85%, individual)
  • Presentation in class (15%, group)

Prerequisites
Students in Banking & Finance and Financial Management should have no problem taking the course. Law & Economics students should be able to take the course with some extra effort. The course assumes an intermediate knowledge of finance and a basic knowledge of microeconomics and statistics: discounted cash-flows; yields, interest rates, net return, basic knowledge of derivatives (e.g., forward/futures; options) and how to price them, basic accounting, normal and binomial statistical distributions, and basic utility maximization, i.e., Lagrangian functions. Students from any other master program are not encouraged to attend, unless they have taken at least two prior finance courses during their bachelor and/or master programs.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Asset Pricing

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

This course covers the fundamentals of asset pricing in discrete and continuous time. We start off with consumption based asset pricing where we develop the concepts of stochastic discount factors/ marginal rate of substitution, no arbitrage, and risk sharing in contingent claim markets. The course proceeds with discussing market efficiency in connection with linear factor models such as CAPM and Fama-French and then proceeds to option pricing using Black Scholes. In addition, the mathematical tools and programming language are necessary to understand the material will be covered.

Learning objectives
Understand, apply and critically evaluate various theoretical and applied approaches towards asset pricing.

Format
Lectures and Seminars (review sessions).

Assessment method

  • Final Exam (40%, individual);
  • Midterm Exam (30%, individual);
  • Case and exercises (30%)

Prerequisites
Sufficient pre-knowledge in "probability and statistics", "basic investment and finance", "mathematics" and programming are required.
Indication of the required level: 1- Probability and Statistics for Finance, by Svetlozar T. Rachev; 2- Investments Global Edition, by Bodie, Kane, and Marcus.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Energy and Environmental Economics

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Research on global climate change, geopolitical considerations and environmental degradation has established the necessity and desirability of a transition towards a more environmentally and strategically sustainable energy system. At the other end, scientists and engineers have developed many options and technologies that would make this transition feasible. Still, the transition is taking place at a painstakingly slow pace, if at all. As energy is such a fundamental input in modern economies, the challenge of bringing this transition about is huge.

This is not a standard academic course in environmental and energy economics, where you read a book, follow lectures, do exercises and write an exam. The course is open to all MSc-programs offered at U.S.E. and will therefore not offer further specialisation in the topic of any specific MSc-program. Rather, in this course we challenge you to apply what you have learned and to do so in collaboration with people from very different backgrounds and specialisations on a real-world problem. In multidisciplinary teams, you will work on developing policy proposals that address challenges in the energy transition for the Netherlands. These challenges will be set by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands and the policy proposals developed during the course will be presented at a conference where policy makers will evaluate your work. In working on this challenge, you will see how your academic knowledge of economics can be fruitfully applied to real-world problems. But you will also (hopefully) learn about the many things you do not know. To some extent, those gaps can (and should) be addressed with self-study and desk research. But often it is more efficient and more fun simply to work with people that can complement you, as you will very often in your future career. To achieve the inherently multidisciplinary approach required for complex real-world challenges, you will work intensively with MSc-students from different MSc-programs at USE and even from other faculties, such as geosciences and energy science.

Learning objectives

  • Combine theory and empirical skills learned earlier to the issues related to energy production and use;
  • Identify where knowledge gaps are present and effectively address these;
  • Critically evaluate work of others on these dimensions;
  • Formulate and complete a scientifically researched policy proposal on energy transition.

Format
Lectures, guest lectures, discussion meetings and assignment.

Assessment method

  • Written assignment (80%). This is an individually graded group assignment: the students write an individual policy proposal that is integrated into a joint policy paper. They are graded individually on the policy proposal and jointly on the introductory parts (identification of major challenges) and joint conclusion, the presentation at the conference and the discussant role they take on other papers.
  • Participation in group discussions (20%) through peer evaluation.

Prerequisites
Course is eligible to all students. The course includes writing an advisory report, so it will be advantageous to have some affinity and skills with regard to drafting a report.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Economics of Global Challenges

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Global challenges, like climate change, inequality, and poverty cannot be solved from the perspective of just one discipline. Increasingly, economists are engaging in multidisciplinary collaborations and integrating insights from other disciplines to inform research and offer policy advice. And, economists are increasingly using field experiments to test what works and why in real-life settings, often working directly with policy makers. In this course, economic theory meets practice around key challenges facing the globe today, with a focus on global poverty, skills, entrepreneurship, peace & recovery, and climate change, and a focus on lower and middle income countries.

Students will first learn about impact evaluation methods, going in-depth into designing randomised control trials (RCTs), including its application in Stata, and getting an overview of quasi-experimental methods (differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, and regression discontinuity design). Students will also learn about the growing role of impact evaluations in policy discussions around global challenges and the institutional challenges to affect policy in practice.

The course then covers sequentially five global challenges, one per week. Each week starts with a macro-perspective: What is the global scale of these challenges, and how do these translate into regional differences? How can economic theory inform our understanding of these challenges? And, how are insights from other disciplines enriching our understanding? This macro perspective is then followed by a micro perspective: How can theory guide the design of policy and program interventions addressing these challenges? And, how are economists using field experiments, often in collaboration with scientists from other fields, to test policy and program effectiveness in practice, and to shed further light on the underlying mechanisms?

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Synthesize insights from economic theory and other disciplines to inform our understanding of global challenges
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of impact evaluation (IE) methods.
  • Apply knowledge of IE methods to design field experiments addressing global challenges.
  • Apply knowledge of IE methods to analyse data collected in a field experiment.

Format
Lectures and active class discussions based on lectures and assigned readings, including student presentations.

Assessment method

  • Midterm exam covering impact evaluation methods (40%, individual);
  • Presentation (20%, group);
  • A paper laying out a detailed (funding) proposal for an impact evaluation by a multi-disciplinary research team (40%, individual).

Prerequisites

Highly recommended entry knowledge: Empirical economics MSc Course

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Behavioural Economics and Public Policy

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

Our global society faces a number of challenges: an aging population, unemployment, increasing inequality, climate change, poverty, declining resources. Most of these challenges are rooted in the dilemma of diverging individual and collective rationality. Acknowledging these challenges, the EU adopted in 2009 a strategy for sustainable development which aims at meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “But sustainable development will not be brought about by policies only: it must also be taken up by society at large.” (EU, 2009) This, however, requires profound changes in thinking and behaviour, in consumption and production patterns, and in economic and social structures.

Policymakers have encountered substantial difficulties over the past decades trying to induce producers and consumers to change behaviours and to adopt new, more sustainable technologies, even when these behaviours appear to be in the consumers’ or producers’ own financial interests. Traditional policy instruments, i.e. monetary incentives, are costly and not always effective. Individuals decide as “Humans” rather than as “Econs” (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008): While “Econs” may not make perfect forecasts, they at least make unbiased forecasts. And they respond primarily to monetary incentives—their decisions are not affected by seemingly “irrelevant” factors such as the display of a set of alternatives, or the order in which options are offered. In contrast, “Humans” make systematic and predictable errors—their forecasts are flawed and biased in systematic ways.

Therefore, a growing body of research in psychology and behavioural economics suggests that interventions that take into account these systematic biases can potentially be just as powerful in changing choices and behaviour as interventions that are based on standard economic theory. What is more, they are potentially much less costly. As a consequence, an increasing number of government institutions (most famously the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team) dedicate themselves to the application of behavioural insights. With a growing emphasis on evidence-based policy making, an ever increasing number of behaviourally informed interventions gets tested in the field.

In this course we will study the challenges and opportunities for using behavioural insights in policy making. The course follows a two-fold structure: During the lectures we will study and discuss main behavioural theories and concepts. The tutorials focus on randomised controlled trials, which are often considered to be the “gold standard” for knowing whether policy interventions work in the field. The two aspects of the course combine in the course assignment, for which groups of students are expected to design a behaviourally informed policy intervention as well as a field experiment to test its effectiveness.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Set out the most robust (non-coercive) influences on behaviour;
  • Demonstrate how behavioural theory can help meet current policy challenges;
  • Identify the relevant tools for changing specific behaviour;
  • Design a policy intervention using behavioural insights;
  • Understand the role of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for evidence based policy making;
  • Understand most essential research methods for field experiments;
  • Assess potential for controversy, assess legitimacy of using behavioural insights for policy making.

Format

  • Lectures, tutorials
  • Lectures focus on the discussion of main behavioural theories.
  • Tutorials cover major aspects of experiment design, analysis, and interpretation.

Assessment method

  • Assignment: Intervention design (50%, group)
  • 4 mini-MC tests (50%, individual)

Teams of 3-4 students are expected to be prepared each week to possibly present their progress regarding the design of an intervention for behaviour change and discuss their progress in class. The grade will be based on the final handed-in written work.

Prerequisites
None. Course is eligible to all students.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Public Policy and Competition

Please note the prerequisites for this course at the bottom of the course description.

In many markets, the government aims at safeguarding specific public interests. In some of these cases, this happens through public participation in the market. For example, in the media market, governments are active as players, through producing or subsidizing public broadcasting. Another example is gambling, in which governments may own and operate casinos and lotteries. Typically, in such markets, public providers compete with private companies. A history of exclusive licenses and legislation may have created stakeholders with vested interests in the status quo, such as the public providers themselves, organisations receiving proceeds from public providers' revenues, and the government receiving proceeds from revenues. The presence of these stakeholders, and claims about "public interests" that they may make, can easily cloud assessments of the efficiency of such markets.

In general, public policy that is based on private, vested interests tends to reduce the aggregate welfare level, and may actually undermine public interests. One reason is that public policy, by implicitly aiming at safeguarding private rather than public interests, may lead to a distortion of the playing field between public and private providers. To analyze such markets, we will discuss the concept of "public interests", relate it to underlying market failures, discuss the risk of government failures in case of public intervention, and study the nature of competition between public and private providers who may be subject to different rules. During the course, we will try to distinguish between valid arguments for intervention versus the improper use of "public interest" arguments to obtain private goals; study a couple of cases in detail, such as public broadcasting and gambling. The course will use ingredients from the theories of welfare economics, industrial organisation and competition economics, combined with institutional aspects such as specific legislation and regulation.

Learning objectives

At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Apply theories of "mixed oligopoly" to gain understanding into markets in which public and private providers compete with each other.
  • Relate public policy and competition policy problems to policy-making processes, political choices and vested interests;
  • Understand how political preferences and vested interests may distort the design and implementation of public policy;
  • Understand different types of rationales for, and shortcomings of, government intervention in markets;
  • Critically assess the legitimacy of statements made in policy debates (e.g. by politicians, parties with vested interests);
  • Understand the design and implementation of economic policy in the light of the process of public policymaking;
  • Relate the theory of competition policy to a wider political and societal context.

Format
Lectures, seminars, student presentations.

Assessment method
• Written exam (70%, individual);
• Paper and presentation (30%, group)

Prerequisites
• Intermediate microeconomics (e.g. familiarity with concepts such as market structure, market power, monopoly, Bertrand versus Cournot competition, entry barriers, product differentiation).
• It is assumed that students are familiar with the concept of market failure (and its various appearances, e.g. monopoly power, asymmetric information, public goods, transaction costs) as a rationale for government intervention. Students without such a background will be able to catch up by reading a background paper, if necessary.

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Period 3 and 4

Thesis (compulsory)

This a required course and is open to U.S.E. Master students only.

For their master thesis, students independently conduct academic research to contribute to the progress of science, and (preferably) to also make a practical impact by developing new insights/useful knowledge. The thesis must be written individually.
The writing of the thesis may be combined with an ‘internship’ (external research) that students can find themselves, pending upon approval by their thesis supervisor.
Learning objectives
The thesis is the final part of the master's programme. It must reflect many of the learning objectives of the programme's various courses. In particular, after successful completion of the thesis, students have shown that they are able to:

  • Assess advanced economic theory
  • Apply modern economic theories, possibly in combination with other academic fields
  • Work with economic models
  • Carry out scientific research independently
  • Demonstrate an academic attitude towards solving complex economic problems
  • Select the relevant research method: theoretical, empirical, experimental, or any combination
  • Assess the contribution of own research within the realm of the existing body of knowledge
  • Write an advanced research report in English

Format
In period 2, each of the MSc programs organises a kick-off session in which thesis supervisors present themselves, and the kind of topics they are able to supervise. What follows is a matchmaking process in which each student will be assigned a supervisor, with whom s/he will closely collaborate for half a year. The kick-off session will be planned in the third week of November, and the matchmaking of students and supervisors will normally be done before Christmas. Although deviations are possible, students will typically meet their supervisor for the first time before Christmas, to discuss initial research ideas and data collection opportunities, and to be put on track of adequate literature.
During period 3, five ECTS should be dedicated to writing a research proposal and literature research, and maybe (partly) collecting data. During period 4, ten ECTS should be dedicated to (partly) data collection, analysing data, and drafting and improving the thesis. A detailed planning including feedback sessions will be worked out in collaboration with your supervisor.

The contents and frequency of the meetings with your supervisor can be diverse, but the typical process foresees in around 6-7 meetings altogether. A second supervisor will be involved in the process specifically for the following tasks: (i) to approve the research proposal and set up of the thesis, and (ii) to read the final manuscript as approved by the first supervisor, and to determine the thesis grade in consultation with the first supervisor.
More detailed instructions will be provided by your MSc thesis coordinator (BF and FM: Rients Galema; IM: Hein Roelfsema; BDE: Bilgehan Uzunca; EP: Joras Ferwerda) and on the student website.

Assessment method

  • Thesis and the presentation (together 100% of the final grade)

Period 4

Policy Analysis (compulsory)

In this course topical issues in the social-economic policy domain are addressed. Situated at the end of the academic year, this course gives students the opportunity to apply core tools and concepts learnt from the Economic Policy curriculum to practical real world policy issues, varying from the effectiveness of activation policies to reduce welfare dependency, social security, the pension system and labour market reform proposals to cost-benefit analyses of public investments in health, education or public transport. We discuss the role of evidence-based policy, to what extent implemented policies are based on research and how this can be improved.

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student is able to:

  • Evaluate public policies in terms of the main issues and problems addressed;
  • Identify the main policy-advising institutions;
  • Acquire an overall perspective of the role of economic theory and insights of other disciplines in a number of topical policy issues;
  • Translate existing theoretical knowledge in a consistent and coherent way to a specific practical policy issue.

Format
Lectures (guest lectures and discussion groups)

Assessment method
Teams of students choose a topical public policy issue. Using their technical skills and knowledge from the master curriculum, they perform a policy analysis: ‘how, why and to what effect governments pursue particular courses of action’ culminating in a final report and presentation of a public policy topic that will be graded (100% of the final grade)

In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.

Period 1-4

Professional Skills (compulsory)

Your master provides you with knowledge and analytical skills to succeed in a professional career. However, superior academic knowledge is not enough. This course provides you with tools to orient yourself on the job market, and offers you a series of workshops to develop skills to become a more effective worker. Employers often seek candidates who possess a broad set of professional skills; these include writing and presentation skills as well as intercultural knowledge and understandings that are necessary to gain employment and to be successful in a job. Especially in a highly competitive labour market, employers prefer candidates who possess certain professional skills. Professional skills thus are not only tools to be successful in your job, they can also help you getting one.

Course contents
The course includes two components. First, you are challenged to reflect on yourself as an individual, and develop a plan to act. This part includes a self-evaluation, analysis of personal strengths and weaknesses, and a plan for self-development. Evidence for this exercise will be embodied in a self-reflection report.

Second, the course offers a range of workshops covering a wide range of skills and capabilities that will help you to develop yourself, and become a better candidate to potential employers. Our (preliminary) list of modules includes: Intercultural communication, Time management, the art of job application, Consultancy skills, Leadership, Pitching, Presenting, Speedreading, Memory techniques, and Influencing people. (Please note that this overview can still be subject to change)
You will have to take four workshops to pass the course.

Literature
No specific literature is required for this course.

Format
All activities related to this course (self-reflection meetings, workshops) are organized in pre-determined dates throughout the year. In periods 1, 2 and 3 single days will be dedicated to the course, usually on Fridays. Anticipate half-day or full-day sessions. Workshops will be given by professional trainers.
More details will be shared in the course manual that will be posted on Blackboard in advance of the course.

Assessment
No grade will be given. In order to pass this course, the students should:
1. Attend four workshops.
2. Develop and hand a satisfactory self-reflection report – the reflection report will be graded ‘pass’ or ‘fail’
In case online access is required for this course and you are not in the position to buy the access code, you are advised to contact the course coordinator for an alternative solution. Please note that access codes are not re-usable meaning that codes from second hand books do not work, as well as access codes from books with a different ISBN number. Separate or spare codes are usually not available.