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Intermediate Microeconomics

Purpose of Course  showclose

This course is designed to extend your knowledge of the basic microeconomic principles that will provide the foundation for your future work in economics and give you insight into how economic models can help us think about important real world phenomena.  Topics include supply and demand interaction, utility maximization, profit maximization, elasticity, perfect competition, monopoly power, imperfect competition, and game theory.

Microeconomics is the study of rational choice behavior on the part of individual consumers and firms.  In general, economists are interested in how market mechanisms solve extremely complex resource allocation problems.  This course presents a logical and coherent framework in which to organize observed economic phenomena. Several economic “models” are developed and analyzed in order to help explain and predict a wide variety of economic (and sometimes, seemingly non-economic) phenomena.  Microeconomic theory is based on the notion that individuals (and firms) have well defined objectives (e.g., maximizing utility or profits) and behave systematically according to the incentives and constraints of their economic environment.  It is this framework which allows the economist to gain a fundamental understanding of the choices people make in an economic setting.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to ECON201: Intermediate Microeconomics!  This class presents a rigorous framework for developing economic analysis.  The material is challenging and relies heavily upon quantitative skills.  The course utilizes calculus to explain basic underpinnings of economic theory.  While some of the concepts are similar to the introductory microeconomics course, the material in this class develops more complex relationships and requires greater synthesis of abstract ideas.

For many economics majors, Intermediate Microeconomics is their first exposure to using multivariate calculus as an applied tool; however, remember to explore theory and policy applications.  An economist must be able to effectively compare varying economic scenarios and offer practical solutions.  Remember that economics is both a business discipline and a social science subject.

Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Tony Pizur, Ph.D.

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

  • Introduction to Economic Analysis is the main text used in the course.
  • Lectures from Duke, Berkeley, and Yale complement the main text.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Listen to each of the lectures and read each of the assigned chapters from the text.  Problem sets will be offered in each unit to help you complete the final exam, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the quizzes and problem sets listed above.  In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 87 hours to complete.  This is a conservative estimate.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  The required time to complete the course depends greatly on your proficiency in multi-variable calculus.  Those students with a stronger quantitative background should find that information is presented in a straightforward fashion and that each unit should take approximately the listed time advisory to complete.  Those students needing to further develop their calculus skills may take considerably longer to complete the course; it is possible to ponder a single equation for some time.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then to set goals for yourself based upon your proficiency with calculus.  For example, Unit 1 should take you about 17 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday, subunit 1.2 (a total of 4 hours) on both Tuesday and Wednesday, etc.

Tips/Suggestions: As noted in the “Course Requirements,” multi-variable calculus is a pre-requisite for this course.   If you are struggling with the mathematics as you progress through this course, consider taking a break to revisit MA103, focusing especially on optimization techniques.  Do not get discouraged if some of the equations look daunting; try to break them down and understand what they mean in terms of theory or applications.  After a set time, perhaps 15 minutes, set any puzzling material aside and return to it later with a fresh perspective. 

Many of the assumptions in the models are somewhat unrealistic on first inspection.   For example, certain functions are used more for their differentiability rather than for their ability to describe real-world phenomena.  As you progress in economics, these assumptions can be relaxed to build models which better approximate the actual environment.



Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Explain the standard theory in microeconomics at an intermediate level.
  • Explain and use the basic tools of microeconomic theory, and apply them to help address problems in public policy.
  • Analyze the role of markets in allocating scarce resources.
  • Explain both competitive markets, for which basic models of supply and demand are most appropriate, and markets in which agents act strategically, for which game theory is the more appropriate tool.
  • Synthesize the impact of government intervention in the market.
  • Develop quantitative skills in doing economic cost and consumer analysis using calculus.
  • Compare and contrast arguments concerning business and politics, and make good conjectures regarding the possible solutions.
  • Analyze the economic behavior of individuals and firms, and explore how they respond to changes in the opportunities and constraints that they face and how they interact in markets.
  • Apply basic tools that are used in many fields of economics, including household economics, labor economics, production theory, international economics, natural resource economics, public finance, and capital markets.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (e.g. .doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the Economics discipline: ECON101: Principles of MicroeconomicsECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics; ECON103/MA101: Single-Variable Calculus I; MA102: Single-Variable Calculus II; MA103: Multi-Variable Calculus; ECON104/MA121: Introduction to Statistics.

Preliminary Information

  • Introduction to Economic Analysis

    You will be prompted to read sections of this book throughout the course.  You may choose to download the text in full now and skip to the appropriate section as prompted by the resource boxes below, or you can simply download the specific sections of the text assigned as you progress through each resource box below.

    Reading: Introduction to Economic Analysis (PDF)

    Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

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