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Course Syllabus and Outline
Author: admin  Click Times:   Add Time: 2013-01-20


Course Syllabus and Outline

Principles of Microeconomics

Instructor: Qiting chen


Contact Information:



Class webpage:



Course Description:

Microeconomics is the branch of economics that studies how individuals, households, businesses, and the government make economic decisions in the face of resource scarcity. It also studies the interaction between these various agents, and how these interactions give rise to various economic benefits for them.  Since most of these interactions take place in ‘markets’, microeconomics focuses to a large extent on analyzing how markets work.

We will periodically apply the concepts learnt in class to “real world” issues. This will help you gain a practical understanding of these concepts, apply it to situations you may come across, and make informed choices in your everyday life.


Course Objectives:

After completing this course, you will be able to:

(i). Form an appreciation of the role of economics in society.

(ii).Understand how individuals, households, businesses, and the government make economic decisions in the face of resource scarcity.

(iii). Understand the working of markets and businesses.

(iv). Understand the behavior of industries.

(v).  Develop logical and concise thought about socio-economic issues might affect you. (vi). Understand how the government’s economic policies affect individuals, businesses, and society.



Required  Text

Textbook:  Principles of Microeconomics, Gregory Mankiw, 4th edition, 2007, Higher Education Publishers.


Note: Mankiw’s textbook has an associated website. The details of how to access this website is available in your book. I will not be able to provide this information. Even though you will not be graded on this, I strongly suggest that you visit that website often and take the interactive quizzes to test your understanding of the material.


Suggested Additional Readings/Materials:


Since one of the main objectives of the course is to cultivate the ability to think analytically about economic situations. Students are strongly encouraged to become familiar with current policy issues, as discussed in the press. The Economist (a weekly magazine) provides an excellent coverage and discussion of current economic and events. Some of the articles published weekly in the Economist are freely available at the Economist's home page: Daily coverage of financial issues can be found in Financial Times:, and the Wall Street Journal: can also find coverage of financial news mainly focusing on home affairs by visiting which is written in Chinese.


Grade Determination:

Homework assignments (weight: 15%)

Exams (weight: 50%):

Unannounced “Pop” Quizzes (weight: 15%)

Analysis and Presentation of Economic News (20%): 2 written analyses of current economic news (each worth 10%) – to be completed in groups. In addition to the written report, each group will present their report in class. I will form the groups and give you more information on this activity during the quarter.


General Comments:


Class attendance is strongly encouraged. Missing classes is not a good idea if you want to do well. Feel free to make the best use of my office hours. It is important to take good notes in class as I will stress on certain portions of the textbook. Examination questions will have a strong correlation with the material I will cover in class. Questions from students during the lecture are always welcome, and a good way to clarify doubts regarding the materials being presented in the lecture. Though most often I shall answer such questions in class, if I face a time constraint I might sometimes defer answering the question till after class on a one-to-one basis. I prefer the class to be interactive, and will surely ask students questions during class in order to gauge the impact of my lectures. You are expected to make your best effort at answering these questions, and understand that this effort is an integral part of your learning process. There is no reason to feel concerned if you answer incorrectly, so long as you make a visible effort. Please also understand that I will expect you to be tolerant of the mistakes your classmates might make during this interactive process.


Class Procedures:


1. Please silence all cell-phones and pagers in class.

2. I will not permit late arrivals of more than 10 minutes after class starts. If you have

to leave class before the lecture is over, please inform me before the start of class.

3. I strongly discourage students having private conversations in class, as I believe this disrupts the learning environment of the class. If you have any questions regarding the topic being discussed, please feel free to raise your hand and ask me questions.

4. Completing assignments from other classes, reading unrelated books, articles, magazines, newspapers, sleeping in class are not permitted. If I see you engaging in any of these activities, I may ask you to leave the class.

5. If you are absent from class and miss important announcements made in class, please note that it is your responsibility to find out about them.

6. Please check the class webpage for new postings or announcements at least twice a week. Failure to check the webpage will not be considered as an excuse for not knowing about these postings or announcements.

7. The PowerPoint slides I will be using for my lectures will be available in advance. You can download them by clicking on the ‘Lecture Notes’ link on the class webpage. This link is password protected, so you will have to type in the username and password announced on the first day of class. Please take a print-out of the lecture notes in advance and bring them along with you to the relevant lecture.

8. Stop and ask me if you do not understand the material I am discussing in class or if you cannot read my handwriting on the whiteboard. If I face a time constraint I might sometimes defer answering the question till after class on a one-to-one basis.

Pop-Quiz Policy: There will be ten unannounced pop-quizzes taken during the quarter, Absence during a quiz will result in loss of the respective point, if you do not have an excused absence (officially documented family or medical emergency,[1] and documented participation in an event as part of the university’s team). If you have a documented valid excuse for missing a quiz, you will get the average of all the quizzes you have taken during the quarter, as your score for that quiz. After a pop-quiz is taken, everyone will have to put their pop-quiz in an envelope that I will bring to class on the day of the quiz. This envelope will be sealed right after the end of the class period.  If your quiz is not in that envelope, you will not get credit for the quiz. Relevant pop-quizzes will be posted on the class webpage before exams, so that you can use them for your preparation.

Homework Policy: Homework will be due in class. Homework deadlines will be strictly enforced. Everyone will have to put their homework in an envelope that I will bring to class on the day of submission. This envelope will be sealed right after the end of the class period. If your homework is not in this envelope, I will not accept it (nor will I accept e-mailed homework).  Any submissions after the envelope has been sealed will be allowed only for valid reasons (documented medical or family emergencies, and documented participation in an event as part of the university’s team), and may only be done in person by you during my office hours. Even with a documented valid excuse, if you submit your homework (during my office hours) after the answer key has been posted, I will re-weight your other class-work to make up. In order for me to do that, you will need to submit the home-work by the end of the quarter. Always remember to put your name on your homework.

Tentative Topics (all chapters pertain to Mankiw’s textbook)

I. Introduction (Part 1)

1. Chapter 1: Ten Principles of Economics

2. Chapter 2: Thinking like an Economist

3. Chapter 3: Interdependence and the Gains from Trade

II. Supply and Demand 1: How Markets Work (Part 2)

4. Chapter 4: The Market Forces of Supply and Demand

5. Chapter 5: Elasticity and its Application

6. Chapter 6: Supply, Demand, and Government Policies

III. Firm Behavior and the Organization of Industry (Part 5)

7. Chapter 13: The Costs of Production

8. Chapter 14: Firms in Competitive Markets

9. Chapter 15: Monopoly

10. Chapter 16: Oligopoly

11. Chapter 17: Monopolistic Competition

V. The Economics of the Public Sector (Part 4)

12. Chapter 10: Externalities

13. Chapter11: Public Goods and Common Resources


Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 1, 2 & 3:

A. Some principles of economic thinking – scarcity, tradeoffs, and marginal analysis

B. Economics as a science –

1. Public policy and its eva luation

2. Positive vs. normative economics

C. An application – comparative advantage and the gains from trade

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 4:

A. Determinants of demand

1. Verbal and graphical analysis

2. Change in demand vs. change in quantity demanded

B. Determinants of supply

1. Verbal and graphical analysis

2. Change in supply vs. change in quantity supplied

C. Competitive market analysis – Equilibrium price and quantity

D. Comparative statics – Shifting the curves

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 56:

A. Elasticity of demand – Determinants, computation, and relation to total revenue

B. Elasticity of supply and other elasticities

C. Elasticity applications

D. Price-Fixing – Interference with the market mechanism

1. Price supports – Agricultural policy and the minimum wage law

2. Price Ceilings – Rent controls and gasoline

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 10&11:

A. Externalities and market inefficiency

B. Solutions for the externalities problem

C. Public goods and common resources

D. The tragedy of the commons

E. The importance of property rights

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 13:

A. The production function

B. Costs of production

C. Fixed and variable costs; average and marginal costs

D. Costs in the short run and the long run

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 14:

A. The Role of Profits in a Market Economy

B. Short run competitive equilibrium

C. Long run competitive equilibrium

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 15:

A. Monopoly production and pricing

B. The welfare costs of monopoly

C. Public policy towards monopoly

D. Price discrimination

Readings: Mankiw – Chapters 16&17:

A. Oligopoly and game theory

B. Policy towards oligopoly

C. Monopolistic competition



Previous Record: Professor Xu haiyan