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Introduction to Economics

Exam number: 1360

Semester: from 1st April

Duration of the module: One semester

Form of the module (i.e. obligatory, elective etc.): Elective

Frequency of module offer: Summer semester 2018

Prerequisites:
None. This is a reading class. Students are expected to read the relevant material (about 1 chapter of an elementary textbook) to prepare for each lecture. This course is designed particularly for students of our cultural science program as well as law students. It should be regarded as an introductory course to economics, which should give a succinct overview of various topics in economics as well as prepare for the upcoming courses in Micro- or Macroeconomics on the 101 level. Also foreign exchange-students are invited to join the course.

Applicability of module for other study programmes:
Obligatory or elective in other study programmes. For further information check regulations of the study programme.

Person responsible for module: Dr. Thomas Obst

Name of the professor: Dr. Thomas Obst

Language of teaching: English

ECTS-Credits (based on the workload): 6

Workload and its composition (self-study, contact time):
Contact time (lecture, tutorials, seminar etc.) 42 h; self-study: 136 h; exam 1.5h

Contact hours (per week in semester): 3

Methods and duration of examination:

Reading Quizzes and one group assignment (weight: 25 % in sum). A successful completion of the final exam (90 minutes, weight: 75%).  The final grade results from the weighted average of the single graded parts. Assessment criteria: A student receives a grade of 1.0 by exhibiting:

  •      A comprehensive overview and a very sound knowledge of the various models, theories and concepts covered in class.
  •      A convincing general understanding of the basic assumptions of the models, theories and concepts covered in class.
  •      An extensive ability to explain the adjustment mechanisms of the different models, by using graphical analysis as well as mathematical calculations that describe these mechanisms.
  •      An extensive knowledge about individual models and theories and their applications - as reflected in a comprehensive rationale for the choice of a model under given specific situations and problems.

Emphasis of the grade for the final grade: Please check regulations of the study programme

Aim of the module (expected learning outcomes and competencies to be acquired):


The purpose of the course is to introduce students to some of the most widely used concepts and models in economics. In the first part, we will focus on microeconomics, in the second part we will focus on macroeconomics. The course also provides basic tools for performing comparative static analyses of simple economic models. This tool-box contains verbal, graphical, problem-solving and mathematical tools. In addition, the students will be equipped with relevant theories and concepts as well as new critical developments in the field of economics.  In relation to the study program's qualification profile, the subject explicitly focuses on:

  • Gain knowledge about basic microeconomic concepts: Incentives, trade-offs, opportunity cost, marginal thinking, international trade.
  • Gain knowledge about current issues in macroeconomics: Varieties of capitalism, new developments in the economics profession, macroeconomic indicators, economic inequality
  • Students should be able to determine and interpret price elasticities in the goods market.
  • Students should be able to determine the effects of price controls on consumers and producers by using the concepts of consumer and producer rent.
  • Students should be able to analyze graphically the effects of taxation on the efficiency of market outcomes.
  • Students possess the skills to analyze, compare and evaluate basic economic problems in society.
  • The students should have the skills to optimize functions.
  • Students acquire the competence to manage work and master situations that are complex, unpredictable and require new solutions. This competence is practiced in a group assignment, which should be solved in a group of 3-4 students. Group assignments train the competence to initiate and implement research activities within a professional cooperation and take on professional responsibility. The results of the assignments are presented by one group of students to train the skills to present and communicate research-based knowledge in a professional manner. Subsequent class discussions train the communication competencies of the group as well as their classmates.
  •  In order to strengthen the competencies to independently take responsibility for own professional development and specialization a written exam is a part of the overall grade. This will also strengthen the skills to structure economic thinking and to communicate with professionals and non-specialists in a written form.
  • The class will apply interactive lecture demonstrations and successful teaching practices to create a truly student-centered approach. Real-world examples will be used to help students understand and appreciate core concepts in economics.

Contents of the module:
Lecture:

Part I: Microeconomics (Textbook 1)

  • Chapter 1: The five foundations of economics
  • Chapter 2: Model building and gains from trade
  • Chapter 3: The market at work: supply and demand
  • Chapter 4: Elasticity
  • Chapter 5: Price controls
  • Chapter 6: The efficiency of markets and the cost of taxation
  • Chapter 7: Market inefficiencies: externalities and public goods

Part II: Macroeconomics (Textbook: The Core Team, 2017, The Economy)
  • Introduction to macroeconomics  (New developments, basic macroeconomic indicators)
  • Chapter 1: The Capitalist Revolution
  • Chapter 19: Economic Inequality

Tutorial:
  • Pre-algebra and algebra review.
  • Differentiation, Optimization, Maximum, Minimum, Partial Derivative 
  • Discussion of the group assignment      
  • Interactive student activities such as exercises

Teaching and learning methods:
Lecture with tutorials, self-studies

Literature (compulsory reading, recommended literature):
Compulsory:

Textbook 1 Mateer, Dirk and Coppock, Lee (2014) Principles of Microeconomics. W.W. Norton.  

Textbook 2 The Core Team (2017), The Economy, Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.core-econ.org/.

Further material will be provided via Moodle.

Further information:
Registration in Moodle Viadrina required. Capacity Limit is 30 Students. Deadline for registration 17 April 2018.