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Regulation is a fundamental function of government that permeates almost all economic and social activities. Nowadays, governments at any level and across the world are charged with the tasks of designing, implementing, and evaluating regulatory systems. Understanding regulation and mastering regulatory tools, therefore, is an important component part of the stock of knowledge and repertoire of skills of public officials and public managers alike.

Most probably, you have a general understanding of what regulation is. Food is regulated, because rules specify the chemical and organic features that food should possess before it is commercialised. Streets are regulated, because rules govern the conduct that drivers and pedestrians should follow. Water services are regulated, because rules provide what drinkable water consists of and how much water utilities should charge for it. in this module, we will build on this general understanding of regulation and develop a more fine-grained view of why regulation exists and its effects.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed your study of this module, you will be able to:

  • outline the nature of regulation and why governments should be concerned with regulatory policy
  • explain the kinds of regulatory tools that are available for governments
  • assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternative regulatory strategies
  • explain regulatory failure and suggest remedies to prevent regulatory failure from happening
  • explain the variety of regulatory systems across infrastructure and utilities sectors of the economy, and across countries
  • advise on the design of regulatory systems for the pursuit of different policy objectives.

Study resources

Study guide

The module study guide is carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the assigned readings.


Throughout the module you will be directed to study a selection of readings, including journal articles, book extracts and case studies that are of particular relevance and interest to the topics covered in the module.

Virtual learning environment

You will have access to the VLE, which is a web-accessed study centre. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Module overview

Unit 1 Theories of Regulation
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Regulation, Regulation Everywhere: The Rise of Regulatory Capitalism
  • 1.3 Explaining Regulation
  • 1.4 The Regulation of Infrastructure and Utilities
  • 1.5 Case Study: The Regulation of The Energy Sector in Thailand
  • 1.6 Conclusion
Unit 2 Regulatory Approaches and Strategies
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Crafting Regulation of Privatised Infrastructure
  • 2.3 Regulating Through Mixed Public–Private Ownership Firms
  • 2.4 Regulating Through Contracts
  • 2.5 Regulating Through Independent Regulatory Agencies
  • 2.6 Regulating Through Market Competition
  • 2.7 Case Study: Privatisation and Regulatory Reform of Toll Motorways in Europe
  • 2.8 Conclusion
Unit 3 Regulatory Reforms
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 What Are Regulatory Reforms?
  • 3.3 Why Do Regulatory Reforms Happen?
  • 3.4 The Effects of Regulatory Reforms
  • 3.5 Case Study: The Reform of The British and German Railway Regulation
  • 3.6 Conclusion
Unit 4 The Politics of Regulation
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Regulation in The Age of Governance
  • 4.3 Playing Regulatory Games
  • 4.4 The Struggle Between Autonomy and Political Control
  • 4.5 Case Study: Regulating Telecommunications in India
  • 4.6 Conclusion
Unit 5 Regulatory Commitment and Investments
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 The Economics of Infrastructure Development
  • 5.3 The Role of Institutions in Infrastructure Development
  • 5.4 Which Policies Can Stimulate Investments in Infrastructure?
  • 5.5 Case Study: Regulation of Expressways in Indonesia
  • 5.6 Conclusion
Unit 6 The Performance of Regulatory Systems
  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 How Well Do Regulatory Systems Work?
  • 6.3 Benchmarking and Yardstick Competition
  • 6.4 Regulatory Governance and Performance
  • 6.5 Case Study: Local Public Transport in Barcelona
  • 6.6 Conclusion
Unit 7 The design of regulatory systems
  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Regulatory Impact Assessments
  • 7.3 Regulatory Design Guidelines
  • 7.4 Regulatory Obsolescence
  • 7.5 Case Study: Light-Handed Regulation of Airports in Australia and New Zealand
  • 7.6 Conclusion
Unit 8 Regulatory Capacity
  • 8.1 Introduction
  • 8.2 Improving Regulation in Developed Countries
  • 8.3 Improving Regulation in Developing Countries
  • 8.4 Building Regulatory Capacity
  • 8.5 Case Study: Regulatory Reform in Africa
  • 8.6 Conclusion

Tuition and assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 6, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 10. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in July each year.

Module samples

Click on the links below to download the module sample documents in PDF.