Principles of Microeconomics

Important dates:

October 4
No class
October 15
Midterm exam 1, begin at 15:05
November 19
Midterm exam 2, begin at 15:05
December 13
No class
December 19
class on a Wednesday
January 3
Final exam, begin at 15:30

Course Description

An introductory course on issues relating to individual economic units: namely, the individual consumer, the individual firm, and their interaction in markets.

Topics include, but are not limited to, price theory, price determination through equilibrium, supply and demand, analysis of consumer demand, utility theory and marginal utility, consumer equilibrium, indifference curve analysis, analysis of supply, theory of production, pricing in perfectly and imperfectly competitive markets, types of imperfect competition, and anti-trust laws.

Course Objectives

The course will enable students to gain an understanding of how the market economy works and how economic theory can be used to understand the interactions of individual decision makers and entities like consumers, firms, and the government.

Course Materials


The course will follow the textbook: Cowen & Tabarrok, 2015, Modern Principles of Economics, 3rd edition, Worth Publishers.
Available from bookdepository and amazon

Further recommendations:

Additionally, material from the following text may be used:
Goodwin et. al., 2014, Principles of Economics in Context, Routledge.
Available from amazon and bookdepository.
Relevant chapters are listed below as [PEC:Chapter number].

Klein & Bauman, 2010, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics, Macmillan
bookdepository amazon

To prepare for the exams, Schaum’s Outlines of Principles of Economics offers a large number of fully solved problems. Available from amazon and bookdepository.

Course Requirements:

Students must read the corresponding chapters of the textbook before each session. Reading the economic and political press will also be helpful.

I recommend that you try to solve the end of chapter problems in preparation and review of each class session.

Class meets each Monday at 15:05 till 16:20 and Thursday at 15:30 till 16:45. Please bring a hard copy of the problems we want to discuss (see below) to each class.

Electronic devices, i.e. laptops, are discouraged from use during class sessions. See for the reasons.

Instructor Information:

Prof. Dr. Dennis A. V. Dittrich

You can always contact me via email. For meetings in my office appointments can be arranged through the my webpage at:

Updated information, links to the literature, additional materials, etc. can be found on my webpage as well.

Grading Guidelines:

Grading ComponentWeight
Midterm Exam 120%
Midterm Exam 220%
Final Examination60%

If the final exam is better than one or both of the midterm exams the corresponding midterm exam grade(s) will be replaced by the grade of the final exam.

In case you were excused from a midterm exam, the make-up exam for the missed midterm will be administered with the final exam.


A typical 3 credit course requires 150 hours of your time. The table below identifies how I expect those 150 hours will be allocated. While you do not receive direct marks for reading, reading will affect your class participation mark (your ability to participate in class discussions and activities) and your final exam mark.

Class Time (3 hours / week)45 hours
Reading (3 hours / week)45 hours
Preparation and Review (4 hours / week)60 hours

Topics and Reading Assignments

Session 1

  • Economics: The Big Ideas (Ch. 1, PEC: 1)

Session 2

Session 3

  • Trade (Ch. 2, PEC: 7)

Session 4

Session 5

  • Supply and Demand (Ch. 3, PEC: 4)

Session 6

Session 7

Session 8

  • Elasticities (Ch. 5, PEC: 5)

Session 9

  • Taxes and Subsidies (Ch. 6, PEC: 12)

Session 10

Midterm Exam 1

Session 11

Session 12

  • Price Ceilings and Floors (Ch. 8, PEC: 6)
    The Economist, 2.4.2016, Spot the difference.
    Video: Price Ceilings

Session 13

  • Price Ceilings and Floors (Ch. 8, PEC: 6)

Session 14

Session 15

Session 16

Session 17

  • (Perfect) Competition (Ch. 11 and 12, PEC: 17)

Session 18

  • (Perfect) Competition (Ch. 12, PEC: 17)

Session 19

  • Monopoly (Ch. 13, PEC: 18)

Session 20

Midterm Exam 2

Session 21

Session 22

  • Game Theory (Ch. 15, PEC: 18)

Session 23

Session 24

In “Industrial Organization” we will discuss issues of imperfect competition (Monopolies, Oligopolies, Cartels, Strategic Pricing) in more detail.

Session 25

  • Consumer Behavior (Ch. 25, PEC: 8, 9)

Session 26

  • Consumer Behavior (Ch. 25, PEC: 9)

In “Intermediate Microeconomics” we will discuss consumer behavior in more detail.

Session 27


Session 28


Topics and reading assignments are subject to changes.

Problem sets

We will discuss problems – mostly taken from our textbook – in class. You will find the problems for download in a dropbox folder: here.

If you do not have a Dropbox account yet: Get one for free!