BA Politics, Philosophy and Economics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Intermediate Microeconomic Theory 1: Consumers, Producers and General Equilibrium

Course unit fact file
Unit code ECON30501
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course provides students with an intermediate level understanding of microeconomics through the development of theories that are at the core of neoclassical microeconomics and fundamental for the understanding and advancement of general, more sophisticated models for consumers and firms. A particular focus is on the notion of welfare in a basic competitive market economy where all agents have full information about the behaviours of other agents in the economy. To achieve that, a deep and concise understanding of the models of consumer choice and demand is required as well as a clear understanding of the decision processes of firms in the short run (decisions to produce or not) and the long run (decisions to enter a market or not). Finally, the unit addresses welfare issues such as the existence of equilibria, which are specific prices for goods at which consumers and produces act such that supply and demand in all markets of the economy are balanced. The properties of such equilibria and the corresponding allocation of goods are explored.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Principles of Microeconomic Theory 2: Markets, Prices and Strategy ECON20172 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Macroeconomic Analysis 2 ECON20182 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Mathematical Economics ECON20192 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Advanced Mathematics ECON10071A Pre-Requisite Compulsory
ECON10071 and ECON20172 and ECON20182 and ECON20192

 ECON20172 AND ECON20182 AND ECON20192




The aims of this unit are to: (i) provide students with rigorous understanding of the core neoclassical microeconomics involving consumers, producers, markets and notions of partial and general equilibrium.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this unit students should be able to: (i) demonstrate a clear understanding of preferences, choice, utility and demand; (ii) demonstrate a clear understanding of inputs, Comment [RM1]: Updated title outputs, production, cost and supply; and (iii) perfect competition in a market and general equilibrium and welfare.


I. Preferences, Choices, Utility, Demand:

  • a. Definition of Relations, Rationality and Properties of Preferences
  • b. Existence of a Utility& Properties of Utility; Ordinal versus Cardinal
  • c. Consumer Problem
  • d. Demand; Marginal Rates of Substitution, Indirect Utility/Expenditure
  • e. Income and Substitution Effect; Law of Demand
  • f. Consumer Surplus; Elasticities; Slutsky Equation; Market Demand
  • g. Equilibrium in Exchange Economy, Pareto Optimality, Welfare Theorems.

II. Production, Costs, Supply

  • a. Inputs and Outputs; Technology
  • b. Firms and their Objective
  • c. Price Taking Firms, Cost Function/Marginal/Average Costs, MRTS, Law of Supply/Demand
  • d. Returns to scale, elasticity of output,

III. General Equilibrium and Welfare

  • a. The Robinson Crusoe Economy, Optimality and Walrasian Equilibrium
  • b. Competitive Equilibrium, Def. Walrasian Equilibrium Price,
  • c. Existence of Equilibrium
  • d. First Welfare Theorem
  • e. Second Welfare Theorem

Teaching and learning methods

Synchronous activities (such as Lectures or Review and Q&A sessions, and tutorials), and guided self-study
The learning process of students is supported by tutorials (exercise questions and discussion based questions) and the provision of ongoing short unseen tests on the course material covered (thereby facilitating ongoing independent learning).

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical reflection and evaluation. Decision-making.
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication
General foundations for neo-classical Microeconomics. Using economic modelling tools and techniques. Understanding role of incentives and strategic thinking. Planning and implementing independent study using library, electronic and online resources. Work to set deadlines.

Assessment methods

60% Exam

Online Tests x 8 (5% each, 40% overall)

Feedback methods

Students can also receive further feedback from lectures, tutorials & office hours, and after the corresponding online tests.

Recommended reading

Core Reading:

  • Nicholson, Walter and Christopher Snyder, Microeconomic Theory: Basic Principles and Extensions, 12th Edition, Cenage Learning, 2016. (ISBN: 9781305505797)
  • Varian, Hal. R., Intermediate Microeconomics with Calculus, Norton, 2014.

Advanced Reading:

  • Jehle, G.A. and P.J. Reny, Advanced Microeconomic Theory, Addison-Wesley, 2011.
  • Riley, John G., Essential Microeconomics, Cambridge UP, 2012. Very Advanced Reading:
  • Mas-Colell, A., M. Whinston, J. Green, Microeconomic Theory, MIT Press, 1995. Articles:
  • Ackerman, Frank (1997) "Consumed in Theory: Alternative Perspectives on the Economics of Consumption," Journal of Economic Issues 31 (3), 651-664.
  • Arrow, Kenneth J. (1959) "Rational Choice Functions and Orderings," Economica, New Series 26 (102), 121-127.
  • Arrow, Kenneth J. (1963) "Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care," American Economic Review 53 (5), 941-973.
  • Waldfogel, Joel (1993) "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas," American Economic Review 83 (5), 1328-1336.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Horst Zank Unit coordinator

Additional notes

For every 10 course unit credits we expect students to work for around 100 hours. This time generally includes any contact times (online or face to face, recorded and live), but also independent study, work for coursework, and group work. This amount is only a guidance and individual study time will vary.

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