Environmental Policy Instruments

Subject ENST90017 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2.5 hours of lectures/seminars per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Environmental Economics, Microeconomics, Managerial Economics

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Graduate School of Science welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and School policy to take reasonable steps to make reasonable adjustments so as to enable the student’s participation in the School’s programs. MSLE contributes to the New Generation degrees and offers a broad range of programs across undergraduate and post-graduate levels many of which adopt a multi-disciplinary approach.

Students of the School’s courses must possess intellectual, ethical, and emotional capabilities required to participate in the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the School. Candidates must have abilities and skills in observation; motor in relevant areas; communication; in conceptual, integrative, and quantitative dimensions; and in behavioural and social dimensions.

Adjustments can be provided to minimise the impact of a disability, however students need to be able to participate in the program in an independent manner and with regard to their safety and the safety of others.

I. Observation: In some contexts, the student must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic and applied sciences. More broadly, observation requires reading text, diagrams, maps, drawings and numerical data. The candidate should be able to observe details at a number of scales and record useful observations in discipline dependant contexts.

II. Communication: A candidate should be able to communicate with fellow students, professional and academic staff, members of relevant professions and the public. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing.

III. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function necessary for participation in the inherent discipline-related activities. The practical work, design work, field work, diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, require varying motor movement abilities. Off campus investigations may include visits to construction sites, urban, rural and/or remote environments.

IV. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of professionals in land and environment industries, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

V. Behavioural and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from meeting the above academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison.


Dr Veronika Nemes



Subject Overview:

The course focuses on the economic theory and application of environmental policy instruments. The course covers both the conceptual and the practical understanding of regulatory as well as incentives-based approaches. Topics include pollution control, urban and rural water use, climate change, transportation, biodiversity loss, fisheries management and energy policy. Case studies from Australia, Europe, and the U.S. are used to analyse a range of policy instruments, including taxes, rebates, fees, permit trading, bans, informational policies, and legal instruments. The course will enable students to evaluate policy options using cost-effectiveness, economic efficiency, equity, fairness and other economic concepts as criteria.

Learning Outcomes:

Critically evaluate different regulatory approaches for dealing with environmental degradation;

Explain the difference between command-and-control and incentives-based policy instruments;

Explain the causes of market failure and their relationship to environmental problems;

Assess the reasons for and evaluate the effects of government intervention;

Understand the difference between taxes, tradable permits, subsidies, legal and information-based instruments, design standards and how they may be used to address environmental problems;

Apply the theories discussed in class to real-world environmental issues, including water use, energy use, climate change, pollution control, biodiversity, and fisheries management.


Assignment 1 (Approximately week 6) – 15% (approx. 750 words)

Assignment 2 (Approximately week 11) – 45% (approx. 2150 words)

End of Semester Exam (2 hours) - 40%

Prescribed Texts:

Tom Tietenberg, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Pearson International Edition (9th ed), 2012.

Additional readings, journal articles, and multimedia materials may also be assigned and provided.

Recommended Texts:

Thomas Sterner, Policy Instruments for Environmental and Natural Resource Management, Published by Resources for the Future and The World Bank, 2012 (selected chapters)

James R. Kahn, The Economic Approach to Environmental and Natural Resources, Harcourt Brace Publisher, (3rd ed), 2004

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • High level of development: oral communication; written communication; application of theory to practice; critical thinking; synthesis of data and other information; evaluation of data and other information.
  • Moderate level of development: collaborative learning; problem solving; team work; statistical reasoning; interpretation and analysis; accessing data and other information from a range of sources; receptiveness to alternative ideas.
  • Some level of development: use of computer software.
Links to further information: http://www.environment.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Course(s): Master of Energy Systems
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Climate Change
Energy Efficiency Modelling and Implementation
Energy Efficiency Modelling and Implementation
Governance, Policy and Communication
Governance, Policy and Communication
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation
Waste Management
Waste Management

Download PDF version.