Course code BUS360

BUS360 Taxes, Inequality, and Sustainability I

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2021 - 2022 .

Course responsible: Annette Alstadsæter
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: School of Economics and Business
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course has teaching/evaluation in January block.
Course frequency: Annually. First time January 2020.
First time: Study year 2019-2020
Preferential right:
Priority for M-ØA og M-ECON students. Other masterstudents can sign up for the course if available capacity."First come, first served".
Course contents:

Taxes and inequality are central topics in the society and for public policy. This course serves as an introduction to these matters. It bridges macro and micro related topics, with emphasis on understanding the basic structure of the tax system, how taxes affect behaviour, and how this again is related to inequality and sustainability.

Teaching is research based and  policy relevant, both bringing the research frontier into the lecture hall and drawing on current newspaper articles and policy debates. The goal is for the students to get an understanding of the most important and up-to-date research and discussions on taxation and inequality, and to learn how to process, apply and communicate policy relevant research.

As a part of this, the course provides the students with policy relevant writing practice. The home assignment consists of writing a short op-ed article based on a research paper in a group, where the group assignment is random and administered by the course responsible on Canvas.  One motivation for this is to encourage social interaction among the students across set structures. The emphasis for the op-eds is to communicate research insights to the public in a relevant and engaging manner. The course contains lectures in how to read a research paper and how to write an op-ed, and seminar leaders will provide group-level advice in the process. The groups can discuss their topic and angle with the seminar leader, but will not get feedback on any written draft prior to handing in.

The deadline for writing the op-ed is brief, and this is a good training in independent work for your future professional life, where you might be teamed up with new colleagues to deliver a report within a short deadline.

There is a lot to take in for a short course in the January semester, and hence the Canvas page is open for all signed up students from December and onward, such that you may familiarize yourself with the Canvas page, read the curriculum, watch digital lectures, and prepare in advance. 

Learning outcome:


After completed course, the student should have knowledge on the topics covered by the course:

  • How to write an op-ed and how to cite
  • When should the government intervene in the economy?
  • Inequality - definitions, trends, and measurement challenges
  • Redistribution and the equity-efficiency trade-off
  • Behavioural responses to taxes: Real, avoidance, and evasion.
  • Challenges to taxing capital in a globalized world
  • Tax havens and individuals` offshore wealth


After completed course, the student should be able to:

  • Have a basic understanding in how to reference work in an academic setting, how to cite without conducting plagiarism, and how to write an op-ed
  • Give an account of basic terminology of taxes, inequality, and sustainability
  • Describe under which conditions the government should intervene in the economy
  • Describe different inequality measures, and give an account for trends in inequality across time and countries as well as measurements challenges
  • Explain the tension between efficiency and redistribution - how political instability may arise if the losers from globalization, sectoral growth and restructuring are not compensated by the winners.
  • Describe the basic structure of the Norwegian tax system and relate it to other countries
  • Give an account of various behavioral responses to taxes
  • Describe the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance, as well as give examples of both
  • Give an account of challenges to taxing individual income and wealth in a globalized world
  • Give an account of individuals` use of tax havens and how it affects tax revenue and inequality

General competence

After completed course, the student

  • Masters basic tax and inequality terminology
  • Is able to reflect on the interaction between taxes, inequality, and sustainability
  • Has a basic understanding of the Norwegian tax system and its challenges in a global economy
  • Is trained in reading and processing an academic research paper
  • Can participate in the public debate by writing a research based op-ed article
Learning activities:
Combination of physical, pre-recorded and streamed lectures, depending on the current Covid-19 situation. See Canvas for details.
Teaching support:
Various course material on the class page on Canvas + physical/digital seminars.

The course curriculum will be specified on the course page on Canvas and consists of research papers from the research frontier, reports, and newspaper articles, and builds partly on research by Skatteforsk - Center for tax and behavioral research at NMBU:

You may sign up for e-mail updates with relevant tax news here:

Bachelor degree or equivalent
Recommended prerequisites:

Combined assessment

40% of the grade: Assignment: A - E / Ikke bestått 

60% of the grade: Electronic home exam, 1 hour: A - E / Ikke bestått 

The term paper can be written in Norwegian or English. If the term-paper is not passed, the course has to be taken again. If the exam is not passed, the course has to be taken again; you will not be able to carry forward a term paper grade to the next year. No continuation exam will be arranged in this course.

Nominal workload:
125 hours
Entrance requirements:
The course is open for master students at NMBU and other Norwegian universities.
Reduction of credits:
2,5 ECTS-credits overlap with BUS362
Type of course:
-Approx. 15 hours of lectures + seminars during the course of three weeks. 
The course is in English. Incoming students on master level can contact student advisors at the School of Economics and Business ( for admission to the course. 
External examiner will control the quality of syllabus, questions for the final examination, and principles for the assessment of the examination answers.
Examination details: Combined assessment: Letter grades