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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LUBS3435 Public Enterprise and Regulation

10 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Dr Andrew Smith

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the alternative policy approaches for dealing with sectors of the economy which are subject to market failure, are important in terms of their scale, political importance and / or their role as a basic need (for example, transport, energy, water, telecommunications, postal services). The module explores, based on theory and evidence, what approaches to ownership are likely to work best, and how different forms of competition and regulation (or de-regulation) can combine with privatisation to deliver improved outcomes for consumers, whilst also protecting companies from unwanted government interference. The context to this debate is the global trend towards increased involvement of the private sector and de-regulation more widely in these sectors. A variety of examples from different sectors and countries will be considered to explore the theoretical concepts in practice and interpret the evidence and draw conclusions about what works best and in what circumstances.


The module aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge to engage in informed debate about how to deal with sectors of the economy subject to market failure and which are important in terms of their scale, the fact that they provide a basic need, and / or because of the potential or need for political involvement or interference.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this module, students will be able to interpret and outline:
- The rationale for Public Enterprise and its historical development, the reasons for the failure of state ownership as a module and the theoretical reasons why privatisation might be a solution to this failure
- The impact of privatisation and de-regulation on economic efficiency and social welfare and the interaction between privatisation, regulation and competition in driving desirable outcomes
- Alternative approaches to regulating privatised companies and the associated problems and possible solutions
- The role of intermediate, hybrid structures (PPP and not-for-profits) in this debate, based on theory and evidence

Skills outcomes
Upon completion of this module students will be able to:
- Recognise the challenges of isolating the impact of one factor when numerous other variables change at the same time

Subject specific
- Deploy critical thinking skills to interpret evidence on the impact of different types of reforms


Indicative content
- The rationale for public enterprise and its historical development internationally
- Fundamental (theoretical) failures of public enterprise and the case for privatisation
- Privatisation: assessing the outcomes (UK and international)
- Private enterprise: regulation versus competition (contestability; different forms of competition)
- Private enterprise: incentive regulation (RPI-X) versus rate of return regulation of natural monopoly
- Drawing the efficiency frontier - efficiency analysis in UK price reviews
- Hybrid ownership models: PFI / PPP and not-for-profit structures

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours85.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Achieved through interaction in lectures and classes. In addition, students will have the opportunity to submit a practice essay and receive feedback and a mark on that essay.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

The resit for this module will be 100% by 2 hour examination.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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