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Course Syllabus for "ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics"

Please note: A fully-supported version of ECON101 is available at This legacy version of ECON102 does not offer a certificate and may contain broken links and outdated information. Although archived, it is open for learning without registration or enrollment. Please consider contributing updates to this course on GitHub (you can also adopt, adapt, and distribute this course under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license). To find fully-supported, current courses, visit our Learn site.

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a basic understanding of the principles of microeconomics.  At its core, the study of economics deals with the choices and decisions that have to be made in order to manage scarce resources available to us.  Microeconomics is the branch of economics that pertains to decisions made at the individual level, i.e. by individual consumers or individual firms, after evaluating resources, costs, and tradeoffs.  When we talk about “the economy,” then, we are referring to the marketplace or system in which these choices interact with one another.  In this course, we will learn how and why these decisions are made and how they affect one another in the economy. Each of the following units has been designed as a building block, where the concepts you learn in one unit will enable you to understand the material you discover in the next.  By the end of this course, you will have a strong grasp on the major issues that face microeconomists, including consumer and producer behavior, the nature of supply and demand, the different kinds of markets and how they function, and the welfare outcomes of consumers and producers.  You will also be able to apply the formal principles you learn to real world issues.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Think intuitively about economic problems.
  • Identify how individual economic agents make rational choices given scarce resources and will know how to optimize the use of resources at hand.
  • Understand some simplistic economic models related to Production, Trade, and the Circular Flow of Resources.
  • Analyze and apply the mechanics of Demand and Supply for Individuals, Firms, and the Market.
  • Apply the concept of Marginal Analysis in order to make optimal choices and identify whether the choices are “efficient” or “equitable.”
  • Apply the concept of Elasticity as a measure of responsiveness to various variables.
  • Identify the characteristic differences between various market structures, namely, Perfectly Competitive Markets, Non-Competitive Markets, and Imperfectly Competitive Markets and understand the differences in their operation.
  • Analyze how the Demand and Supply technique works for the Resource Markets.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics!  Below you will read pertinent information on this course, its resources, and its requirements.

Course Designer: Professor Tony Pizur & Dr. Bob McKizzie

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  In general, this course is built around the basic concepts in microeconomics. There are textbooks, videos, and self-quizzes to help you learn.  The following resources are most prominently used:

Requirements for Completion: You are expected to read each unit and the assigned readings and videos provided.  Throughout the course, there are quizzes which will enable you to properly frame the assigned material within the overall objectives for the unit and for the course.  At the end of the final unit, there is a Final Exam that must be completed.  Please note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 123.75 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 11.25 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 3.25 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 3 hours) on Tuesday night, and so forth.

Tips/Suggestions: Economics uses a variety of ways to express ideas.  As you study each concept, think about how you might explain the principle using math, words, and/or pictures.  Consider how the graphs relate to the words and how much information is contained in them.  Be sure to take notes as you go along because the final exam is comprehensive.

Preliminary Information

  • Principles of Microeconomics

    You will be prompted to read sections of this book throughout the course.  You may choose to download the text in full now and skip to the appropriate section as prompted by the resource boxes below, or you can simply download the specific sections of the text assigned as you progress through each resource box below.

    Reading: Principles of Microeconomics (PDF)

    Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.

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