Public Policy 511: Policy Analysis I

Course Syllabus
Fall 2004
TR 3:00 - 4:15 p.m. in 225 SWKT

Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 752 SWKT
Office Hours: MW 4-5 p.m., or by appointment
Phone: 422-9136


Home Page
Office Hours
How to Succeed in this Course
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Home Page

The home page for Public Policy 511 is Check the home page often for announcements, corrections, instructions for assignments, syllabus, etc. You should also check your email regularly.

Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Monday and Wednesday 4-5 p.m. I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. Feel free to talk to me after classes, or to contact me by email or voice mail. I encourage you to come by to talk about assignments in the class, suggestions for improving the class, politics and current events, the perils of student life, or for any other reason.


This course provides an introduction to the study of public policy and the professional practice of policy analysis. We consider a number of fundamental questions: What are the rationales for collective interference in private affairs? What are the limitations to collective action? What are the generic instruments of public policy? How can we measure social costs and benefits? What are the appropriate roles for policy analysts in democratic societies? We also seek to improve our basic skills in analytical thinking, information gathering, and writing as we attempt to answer these questions.


The course will be run primarily as a seminar. I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participating--even when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are doing this stuff!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage of the chance to talk with me during office hours.


I presume that you have taken the first-year public policy course sequence, and the prerequisites for those courses.


A Chinese proverb (supposedly) says, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." This philosophy drives the requirements of the class.



Midterm Exam


Final Exam


Policy Analysis Project


All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day designated in the course schedule. If you cannot make it to class, please leave the assignment with the department secretaries (in the Political Science office--745 SWKT) before class begins. Alternatively, you may email me the assignment. I will not accept late assignments. The primary reason for no late assignments is so that we can discuss the assignment in class immediately after it is turned in. If you anticipate a problem with submitting an assignment when it is due, speak to me before the assignment is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement.

Because most of the assignments (and project report) are designed to imitate the assignments given in the workplace, I will consider presentation in the assignments.

Weekly Assignments

The assignments will include memorandum exercises and problem solving. You should be prepared to present your solutions to the rest of the class.

You may work together on these assignments (in groups of two or at most three), but you must write up your answers separately. However, if you use other persons' work, or make changes to your own work without inquiring or understanding what you did incorrectly, then you are trying to get a grade using someone else's knowledge. Giving or receiving answers in this manner is not permitted in this course. If you do not learn how to analyze or solve problems on your own, you will have difficulty on the exams and research project. Generally, weekly assignments will be distributed on Thursdays at the end of class.


There is a midterm exam and a final exam that will test your mastery of the basic rationales for, and limits to, public policy, and your cost-benefit analysis skills. You are not allowed to consult with anyone on these take-home exams (except the instructor). The exams may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded. The exams will be discarded at the end of the Winter 2005 semester.

Policy Analysis Project

Students will work on a project on a randomly assigned topic. The project provides an opportunity to apply the concepts and craft skills introduced in the course. This will consist of writing a project report, and giving a project presentation.

I strongly recommend that you consult with me through all phases of your project.

On November 11, hand in two copies of your project report at the beginning of class. One copy goes to me and the other goes to a classmate as the basis for a three- to five-page constructive critique of a project report. Please budget your time so that you will have your copies available at the beginning of class.

On November 18, hand in two copies of the critique, one to me and the other to the report's author. Also, be prepared to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the report you reviewed.

How to Succeed in this Course

From the BYU 2004-2005 Undergraduate Catalog:

"The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence" (p. 48).

From the BYU 2004-2005 Graduate Catalog:

"Graduate study is more rigorous than undergraduate study" (p. 23).

Putting these statements together, the university expects an average graduate student to work more than 9 hours a week in a 3 credit-hour course. This is my expectation as well.

This workload has been affirmed by President Bateman in his devotional addresses. On 7 September 1999, he stated, "It takes approximately three hours of study outside class for every hour in the classroom. If you take 15 hours of credit, you should allocate upward of 45 hours for study per week." On 19 September 2000, he advised, "Study daily--at least three hours for every hour in class."

Students who have succeeded in this course have the following characteristics. They

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

From the Academic Honesty section of the BYU Honor Code: "The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to `be honest.' Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. `President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim.

"BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct." Read the full version here (parts attached to the original paper syllabus).

A colleague (Mitch Sanders, formerly of Notre Dame) has already explicated these issues specifically for social sciences science. Please read here (also attached to the original paper syllabus).

If you write a paper for another course (past or present) that uses the same topic as a paper for this course, you need to approve it with me first, and then you must turn in to me a copy of the paper from your other course.


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU’s policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-282 ASB.


There is two required books that are available for purchase at the bookstore (or any number of on-line bookstores, see or Campusbooks4less.comfor a listing of bookstores and comparison of prices):

There may be other readings available to photocopy in the Department of Political Science office (745 SWKT). All readings should be read before class for full understanding of the subject material.

Tentative Schedule

Date Topic Readings Assignments
August 31 Course Overview WV 2; BGVW 1  
September 2 Fairness Wajac 8, 9  
7 Efficiency and Social Surplus WV 4; BGVW 3  
9 Market Failure WV 5  
14 Inequality WV 6, 7  
16 Government Failure WV 8  
21 Corrections WV 10  
23 Policy Choice WV 15  
28 Valuation in Primary Markets BGVW 2, 4  
30 Valuation in Secondary Markets BGVW 5  
October 5 Discounting the Future BGVW 6  
7 Picking a Discount Rate BGVW 10; Moore et al.  
12 Expected Value BGVW 7  
14 Review   Midterm Exam Distributed
19 Sensitivity BGVW 7  
21 Option Value BGVW 8 Midterm Exam Due
26 Passive Use BGVW 9  
28 Demonstrations BGVW 11  
November 2 Estimating Demand Curves BGVW 12  
4 Revealed Preferences BGVW 13; Uyeno et al.;
Weimer and Wolkoff
9 Contingent Valuation BGVW 14; Johnson and Whitehead  
11 Shadow Prices BGVW 15 Project Draft
16 Cost-Effectiveness BGVW 17; Hamilton and Viscusi  
18 Weighted CBA BGVW 18 Critique
NOTE! 23 No Class--Friday Schedule    
25 No Class--Thanksgiving    
30 Developing Countries BGVW 16  
2 Review   Project
7 Project Reports    
9 Project Reports   Final Exam Distributed
16     Final Exam Due

Source: Much of this syllabus is from Sven Wilson's PPol 511 syllabus, with other parts taken from Dave Weimer's 873 and 881 syllabi.

Jay Goodliffe's home page

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