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EC 311 syllabus
title: "Intermediate Microeconomics (EC 311)"
subtitle: "Syllabus"
author: "Grant McDermott"
date: "Department of Economics, University of Oregon"
pdf-engine: pdflatex
documentclass: article
toc: false
number-sections: false
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colorlinks: true
linestretch: "1.25"
# fontfamily: libertine
header-includes: |
```{r vars, include=FALSE}
start = as.POSIXct('2022-01-24 14:15')
midterm = as.POSIXct('2022-02-03 14:15')
final = as.POSIXct("2021-03-16 12:30")
pdate = function(d) paste0(format(d, '%H:%M'), ' ',
weekdays(d), ', ',
format(d, '%B %d'))
ge = "John Morehouse"
ge_email = ""
ge_hours = "TBD"
## Summary
\textbf{When:} & \multicolumn{2}{l}{Tue \& Thu, 14:15:15:50} \\
\textbf{Where:} & \multicolumn{2}{l}{McKenzie 221 (\href{}{map})} \\
\textbf{Who:} & Grant McDermott (instructor) & `r ge` (GE) \\
& \, \faMortarBoard \, Assistant Professor of Economics & \, \faMortarBoard \, Doctoral student in economics \\
& \, \faEnvelopeO \, \href{}{} & \, \faEnvelopeO \, \href{`r paste0("mailto:", ge_email)`}{`r ge_email`} \\
& \, \faHourglassHalf \, Mon 09:00--10:30$^*$ & \, \faHourglassHalf \, `r ge_hours`$^*$\\
$^*$ _Note: Both my and `r strsplit(ge, " ")[[1]][1]`'s office hours will be conducted remotely. We'll post Zoom links on Canvas._
## Course description
The aim of this course is to develop an deeper understanding of the economy. We
will focus on the three pillars of microeconomic theory: (1) consumer behavior,
(2) producer behavior, and (3) market competition. We will develop a set of
mathematical tools that allow us better understand the foundation of each pillar
and how they relate to each other. We will begin with consumers, and explore how
their preferences and budgets lead to specific consumption choices. Moreover,
we will see how this allows us to derive demand curves, both for individuals and
for a group of consumers in the aggregate. We will then move on to producer
theory and learn how available technologies lead to cost functions and supply
curves. Finally, having gained a solid understanding of both the demand and the
supply sides, we will study the interactions of consumers and firms in different
market settings, such as pure competition, monopoly, etc.
**Learning objectives:** Upon completing the course, students should feel
comfortable analysing and solving the basic mathematical models that form the
core of modern microeconomic theory. Moreover, they should have developed an
intuitive understanding of the relationship between different market inputs
(_preferences_, _technology_, _costs_) and market outputs (_prices_ and
_quantities_). The most important mathematical objective is developing an
ability to perform constrained optimization in the context of these classic
economic problems. (Translation: We'll be doing quite a lot of calculus.) But
we'll always try to back that up with economic intuition and familiar examples.
## Prerequisites
**Required:** _Introduction to Microeconomics_ (EC 201) and _College Algebra_
(MATH 111). If you have not passed these prerequisites prior to the start of the
term, you **must** drop the course unless you have explicit written permission
from me. Otherwise you will be given an "F" for this class.
**Recommended:** _Calculus_ (MATH 241). You will soon find out that EC 311 makes
extensive use of mathematics. We're going to move quickly and I'll assume that
you are---or, very soon will be---comfortable with solving equations, taking
partial derivatives, and doing constrained optimization.
## Textbook
_Microeconomics_ $3^\text{rd}$ ed. by Goolsbee, Levitt, and Syverson (aka
**"GLS"**). The 3$^\text{rd}$ edition of GLS comes with access to `Achieve`, an
online platform with practice problems, homework, e-book chapters, learning
modules, and extra resources. This is important because you'll need to complete
the weekly `Achieve` homework assignments as part of your grade. However, you
may also consider purchasing a cheaper digital access token instead of the
hardcover version of the book. Both options are available at the Duck Store.
## Class rules and COVID-19 protocol
**COVID-19:** The University of Oregon has very clear [COVID-19
I recommend reading the whole thing. But the three most important things from my
perspective as your lecturer are:
1. Everyone is required to be fully vaccinated, including a 3$^\text{rd}$
"booster jab by the end of January.
2. You are expected to wear a mask, covering your mouth and nose, at all
3. Do NOT come to lectures if you are unwell or have been exposed to COVID-19.
Please note that I will be strictly enforcing point (2) and, as much as I can,
point (3). People without a properly fitting mask, or who are clearly unwell,
will be made to leave the lecture room. I will make sure that you have access
to whatever material you need if you are unable to come to class. Again,
please stay at home if in doubt!
**General:** Apart from the COVID-19 stuff, I'll stick to some pretty
commonsense in-class rules. No laptops or cellphones during the lecture. iPads
and other tablets are fine if that's what you're using to take notes or annotate
the slides, so long as you use an Apple pencil or stylus.^[Basically, anything
that doesn't involve tapping the screen and thus distracting those around you.
At the same time, I'm happy to make exceptions for relevant cases; just ask me.]
I'm hoping to encourage an interactive and engaging classroom
atmosphere. We'll use in-class quizzes and polls, and you should expect me to
call on you to answer questions and discuss ideas during lectures. I will treat
you as adults and anticipate that you can engage with challenging or
uncomfortable ideas accordingly. At the same time, discriminatory or egregiously
inflammatory language will not be tolerated. Similarly, the university takes an
appropriately hard-line policy on sexual discrimination and violence that you
should acquaint yourself with. [President Schill's NYT
on free speech on campus is another useful reference.
## Grading
Final grades will be determined as follows.
| Component | Description | Weight |
| **Homework** | Weekly problem sets on `Achieve` (link via Canvas) | 30% |
| **Midterm** | `r pdate(midterm)` | 30% |
| **Final** | `r pdate(final)` | 40% |
Please note that you are going to be graded on a curve. This means that the
absolute scores or percentages from your midterm and final are largely
irrelevant. What matters most is where you are in the distribution of scores
among your peers. Your letter grades that I post at the end of the quarter will
reflect this curve. Usually (but not always) the threshold for an "A" grade is
around 80%. Usually (but not always) the threshold for a "B'' grade is around
65%. There is only one absolute standard: **To pass this course, you need to get
at least 50% in aggregate**. This pass/fail threshold could be higher depending
on how the class performs as a whole, but it will not be lower.^[Please note
that the Economics Department requires a letter grade of "C-" or higher for all
classes to count towards your degree. If you take this class P/NP, it will not
be counted toward your major or minor requirements.] Finally, please also note
that these are the _only_ criteria by which you will be graded. I will not
consider any additional submissions/essays/tests/etc. to change your final
A more detailed description of each graded component follows below.
### Homework
Weekly problem sets will be made available on `Achieve`. This is an online
platform linked to our textbook, which can be accessed via Canvas. The goal of
these problem sets is to review material that we would have covered during the
week and keep you sharp for the main exams. Each problem set carries the same
weight, although you get to drop your lowest grade (i.e. "one free pass").
Unless otherwise noted, problem sets are due **Sunday at 11:59 pm**. The
deadline is fixed and I recommend you avoid waiting until the last minute in
case of connectivity issues, etc.
### Midterm
The midterm is scheduled to take place in class at the **end of week 5**.^[If we
are running behind on material then I might bump the midterm to week 6. I'll let
you in advance if this looks likely.] This basically means that you will be
tested on everything before the start of the producer theory section. (A lecture
schedule is provided at the end of this document.) Please also see the [**Exam
rules**](#exam-rules) section below.
### Final
The final scheduled to take place on **`r pdate(final)`**. The final exam will
primarily be focused on all the material that we cover after the midterm (i.e.
from producer theory onward). However, it is _technically cumulative_, in the
sense that the topics we cover in the 2$^\text{nd}$ half of the course will use
and expand upon topics from the 1$^\text{st}$ half. Thus understanding the old
material will still be fundamental to getting a good grade. Please also see
the [**Exam rules**](#exam-rules) section below.
## Exam rules
I will provide a "cheat sheat" with common rules and formulas for both your
midterm and final exams. These will be physically attached to your printed
exams, but are available on Canvas for you to peruse beforehand.
In addition, you are allowed to bring and use the following items:
1. Extra handwritten notes on a 3" $\times$ 5" index card, one side only.
2. A scientific (non-graphing) calculator.
3. A ruler or straight-edge to assist in graphing.
Please note that phones, tablets, smartwatches, pocket translators, etc. are NOT
allowed. If you are caught using one of these during an exam, I reserve the
right to subtract an arbitrary number of points, or fail you outright. Cheating
will earn an automatic zero for that exam.
**Missing an exam:** Please
[email `r strsplit(ge, " ")[[1]][1]`](`r paste0("mailto:", ge_email)`)
(our GE) and CC me ahead of time if you are unable to sit an exam. Any
emails received after an exam has started will NOT be accepted. In normal years,
I would not provide make-up material and simply shift the weight for, say, your
midterm on to your final. But COVID-19 has changed the situation.
`r strsplit(ge, " ")[[1]][1]` will provide you with make-up material and an
appropriate deadline, as needed and within reason. Again, do not come in to
class and put others at risk if you have been exposed to COVID-19.
**Honesty and academic integrity:** I've already said this, but just to
underscore the point: Students caught cheating or plagiarizing will
automatically be assigned a zero grade.
**Accessibility:** If you have a documented disability and/or anticipate needing
accommodations in this course, please make arrangements with me during the first
week of the term. You should request that the [Accessible Education
Center]( send me a email verifying your situation.
## Schedule
| Week | Topic | GLS chapter | `Achieve` HW |
| :--- | --- | --- | --- |
| 1 | Intro & calculus review | | Math Review |
| | Utility | 4.1 | Supply and Demand |
| | | | |
| 2 | Indifference; budgets | 4.2, 4.3 | Consumer Behavior |
| | Utility maximization | 4.4 | |
| | | | |
| 3 | Demand | 5.1--5.5, 2.5 | Individual & Market Demand |
| | | | |
| 4 | Risk & uncertainty | 14.5 | Uncertainty & Insurance |
| | | | |
| 5 | Midterm prep | | |
| | **MIDTERM** | | |
| | | | |
| 6 | Production | 6 | Producer Behavior |
| | | | |
| 7 | Cost functions | 7 | Costs |
| | | | |
| 8 | Profit maximization | 8.2 | Supply in a Competitive Market |
| | Market supply | 8.1, 8.3, 8.4 | |
| | | | |
| 9 | Monopoly | 9.1--9.5 | Market Power & Monopoly |
| | Oligopoly | 11.1--11.5 | |
| | | | |
| 10 | Review | | |
| | Finals prep | | |
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