Seminar: Environmental Cost-benefit Analysis (F)

Course content

How should decision-makers (e.g., governments or financial investors) decide between potential projects and policies? Answering this poses many challenges, not least for many environmental projects and policies. Such projects and policies may have effects on goods and services that are not traded in the market, adverse distributional effects, and inherent risks and uncertainties. Parallel to this are the challenges of financing sustainable growth.

This course introduces students to the general method and use of cost-benefit analysis. There will be particular emphasis on applications to resource and environmental economics. The course therefore deals with many crucial aspects of environmental cost-benefit analysis.

The goal to equip students with the necessary background to assess the validity of practical environmental cost-benefit analyses, as well as to formulate how current guidelines can be improved based on the latest economic research.

The course will consist of a lecture block that provides an overview and introduces students to key concepts.

Examples of topics students may work on:

  • Revealed preferences methods for valuing non-market goods
  • Contingent valuation method for valuing non-market goods
  • Value or benefit transfer
  • Distributional issues in cost-benefit analysis
  • Discounting approaches and reasonable values
  • Discounting and inequality
  • Discounting under uncertainty
  • Discounting of scarce non-market goods
  • Applications to climate change
  • Other applications

MSc programme in Economics


The course is a part of the financial line, signified by (F)


The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics.

Learning outcome

After completing the seminar the student is expected to be able to fulfill the learning outcome specified in the Master curriculum and to be able to:


  • Account for, define and scientifically reflect on key concepts of environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  • Identify, theorize, discuss and criticize central contributions to environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  • Obtain a handle to further explore the scientific literature and guidelines on environmental cost-benefit analysis.



  • Master the methods and tools of environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  • Structure and analyze the methods of environmental cost-benefit analysis, and to assess and choose scientific theories, methods and tools in particular applications of environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  • Argue, debate, communicate and present the problems with environmental cost-benefit analysis in a scientific and professional manner.



  • Manage, plan, carry through and implement an environmental cost-benefit analysis.
  • Independently be able to make use of the course content in own academic work. 
  • Be responsible for the students own further learning/ specialization in environmental cost-benefit analysis.

At the seminar the student is trained independently to
- identify and clarify a problem,
- seek and select relevant literatur,
- write a academic paper,
- present and discuss own paper with the other students at the seminar.

The aim of the presentations is, that the student uses the presentation as an opportunity to practice oral skills and to receive feedback. The presentations is not a part of the exam and will not be assessed.

Mandatory activities in the seminar:
- Kick-off meeting
- Finding literatur and defining the project
- Writing process of the seminar paper
- Presentation of own project and paper
- Giving constructive feedback to another student´s paper
- Actively participating in discussions at the presentations and other meetings.

There is no weekly teaching/lecturing and the student cannot expect guidance from the teacher. If the teacher gives a few introduction lectures or gives the opportunity for guidance, this as well as other expectations are clarified at the kickoff meeting.

It is strongly recommended that you think about and search for a topic before the semester begins, as there is only a few weeks from the kick-off meeting to the submission of the project description/ agreement paper.

The seminar project paper must be uploaded in Absalon before the presentations, as the opponents and the other seminar participants have to read and comment on the paper. It is important that you upload a paper that is so finalized as possible due to the fact that the value of feedback and comments at the presentation is strongly associated with the skill level of the seminar paper.

After the presentations, you can with a few corrections improve the seminar paper by including the feedback and comments emerged during the presentations. It is NOT intended that you rewrite or begin the writing of the full project AFTER the presentation has taken place.

Key literature:

  • Atkinson, G., & Mourato, S. (2008). Environmental Cost-benefit Analysis. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 33, 317-344.
  • Boardman, A. E., Greenberg, D. H., Vining, A. R., & Weimer, D. L. (2017). Cost-benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice. Cambridge University Press. (Tentatively on the list of key literature)  
  • OECD (2018), Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment: Further Developments and Policy Use. OECD Publishing.


Additional literature is posted in Absalon.

There are no recommended academic qualifications other than the requirements to the study program in Economics.

The seminar assumes that students have a knowledge of the basic principles of environmental cost-benefit analysis corresponding to the course "Economics of the Environment and Climate Change" in the Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen.

BSc in Economics or similar

Schedule of the seminar Fall 2022:

• Kick-off meeting: 5 September 2022 10.15-12.00

• Extra days of introducing teaching: 19 September 10.15-12.00

• Deadline submitting commitment paper: 1 October, 10.00 or when decided by the supervisor

• Deadline of pre-paper uploaded to Absalon: one week before presentations

• Presentations/Workshops: November 14 and 15 10.15-17.00 (If more classes November 16 and 17 are tentative dates)

All information regarding the seminar is communicated through Absalon including venue. So it is very important that you by yourself logon to Absalon and read the information already when you are registered at the seminar.

Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)


Each student receives individually oral feedback on the paper and at the presentation from peers and supervisor.

The supervisor gives the students collective oral feedback and individual guidance.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
A seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum of the Master programme and at KUNet for seminars.
All aids allowed

for the seminar paper.

The teachers defines the aids that must be used for the presentations.


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum of the Master programme.


To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Project work
  • 186
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

and venue:
Go to "Remarks".

Exam and re-sits: Go to "Exam".
Two class of up to 20 students
Department of Economics, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Frikk Nesje   (11-6c786f717134746b79706b466b69757434717b346a71)

Frikk Nesje ( el.

Saved on the 27-04-2022

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