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Unit outline_

ECON6101: Special Topics in Economics 1

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study consists of a special topic in economics, periodically available through staff research interests and the presence of visiting academic staff. As such, the topic and availability of the unit varies from semester to semester, and students should consult the unit of study outline for details pertinent to their intended semester of enrolment.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Economics
Credit points 6
(ECON5001 and ECON5002) or (ECON6701 and ECON6702)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Anastasia Burkovskaya,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay 2
Final essay based on data and empirical analysis
25% -
Due date: 10 Jun 2023 at 23:59
2 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Homework
Four group/individual problem sets with theoretical and empirical exercises
40% Multiple weeks Online, 1 week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay 1
Midterm essay based on a theoretical academic article
25% Week 08
Due date: 17 Apr 2023 at 18:00
Online, 1 week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3
Assignment Weekly reflection
Weekly one-paragraph essay reflection on the lecture material
10% Weekly Online, 1 week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a Credit a good standard, and a Pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Voting I Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 02 Voting II Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 03 Voting III - empirics Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 04 Citizens and governments Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 05 Voting IV - when it goes wrong Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 06 Corruption Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 08 Dictatorships Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 09 Traditional media Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 10 Internet Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 11 Institutions Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 12 Persistence, culture and religion Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 13 Conflict Lecture (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on Canvas. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library Reserve, available on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate familiarity with the main models of political economy.
  • LO2. Identify the likely outcome arising from the interaction of political agents.
  • LO3. Recognise 'real world' economic situations that can be studied by developed models and predict the likely outcomes.
  • LO4. Understand the limitations of various models, distinguish between competing explanations, and critically evaluate competing theories.
  • LO5. Participate in public policy discussions arising in political environments.
  • LO6. Develop the skills needed to evaluate applied economic research.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This is the first time this unit has been offered.

This is a Special Topic unit with a different topic each semester.

The topic for Semester 1, 2023 is:

Economics of Political Institutions, Development and Culture

This unit is an introduction to the newly emerging field at the intersection between economics and political science. We will study key theoretical ideas and empirical evidence for relationships between politics, economic development, and culture and how they affect one another. Students will be encouraged to think and understand how political agents act in different contexts and under varying degrees of information and constraints. The material will be mostly based on recent academic research and the topics will include modern voting theory and electoral competition, interactions between citizens and the state, corruption, non-democratic politics, media, culture, and conflict. Students will investigate the interplay between theory and empirics and apply this theoretical and empirical training in broadening their understanding of political behaviour in real-world scenarios.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.