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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course is an introductory course in microeconomics where we study the decision making of individual actors (consumers, employees, firms, governments, etc.) in an economy.  Actors must make decisions about behaviours because they face scarce resources, but often they find that trading with other actors in markets can increase the wellbeing of all parties.  This course models and examines the nature of these interactions, highlighting when they work well and when they fail to increase wellbeing and what might be the solution to these failures. 

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Keith Bender

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied) or Master of Letters in Art and Business

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course studies aspects of the behaviour and actions of people such as consumers, employees, and company managers, and the behaviour and activities of organisations such as firms, governments, and regulatory authorities, usually within capitalist societies. An important part of these behaviours and activities involves coming to terms with scarce resources. People want many things, but cannot afford them all, and do not have the time to enjoy them all, so must prioritise. Companies want to produce many things, but usually focus on a fairly small range of products. Prices may be high, or increasing, meaning profits for some producers, and prices that are too expensive for some consumers. In other cases, prices may be low and falling, being too low to cover the costs of some companies.

In capitalist systems markets are an important way in which economic activities are coordinated. This often works through buyers adjusting how much they want in relation to established prices, and producers deciding how much it is profitable for them to supply. Circumstances may change, allowing people to adjust such decisions. If such coordination is effective, markets are said to be in, or approaching, equilibrium. Markets though are not always effective in coordinating the plans of people. In cases of market failure, governments often become involved in regulating economic activities, or arranging for the production of goods and services, such as in the cases of health care, education, transport infrastructure, and television and radio broadcasting.
This course investigates reasons why coordination in markets can fail, and introduce ideas about what can be done through governments and other bodies to undertake coordination through other means.
The principles and concepts that are introduced will be of a general nature and are applicable to a large number of cases. We will discuss ideas about how consumers behave in typical situations, or how firms behave in typical situations. We will present concepts and principles mainly through discussion, supplemented by diagrams, and in a few cases through basic mathematical expressions.

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 3 Lectures during University weeks 7 - 17
  • 1 Tutorial during University weeks 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt:

2-hour examination (70%)

5 x online MC quizzes each consituting 6% of overall mark (30% in total) (30%)


Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (100%).

Formative Assessment

This will take place via on-going discussions in tutorials and via mock computer quizzes.


A written feedback sheet is used and this explains why students received a particular mark, outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the essay, and make suggestions as to how the student might improve future coursework submissions. 

On a less formal basis, via verbal feedback during tutorial discussions, and after tutorial presentations.

Course Learning Outcomes


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