ECON10040 Economics and Sustainability

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module is about learning how economists think, how environmental and sustainability issues are viewed from an economics lens, and how to apply economics to understand the world around us. The course requires no previous knowledge of economics and it caters also to those who may never take another course in economics. The focus is on providing an introduction to the discipline that is practical and relevant to understand the sustainability challenges of our time. We will discuss topics such as how insights from economics can be used to understand the causes of climate change and environmental degradation and then design solutions to address them, how incentives affect individuals' and firms' behaviour, GDP and alternative measures of growth, and learn about keywords and key concepts in economics such as opportunity costs, demand and supply, elasticities, efficiency, market failures, externalities and public goods.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. have an understanding of the basic tools of economic analysis,
2. apply those tools to practical situations related to sustainability,
3. understand the contributions economics can make to the discussion on sustainability issues, their causes and their solutions.

Indicative Module Content:

The main topics covered in this module are the following:

INTRODUCTION TO ECONOMICS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Economics as a discipline. The economy and the biosphere. Climate change, planetary boundaries, and tipping points. How to define sustainability. Sustainable Development Goals.

ECONOMIC DECISIONS, INCENTIVES, AND TECHNOLOGY
Technology, production, population, and growth. Economic decisions: opportunity costs, economic rents, incentives. Comparative advantage, specialization, markets. Use of models in economics.

GOODS AND PREFERENCES
Decision-making under scarcity. Budget constraint. Institutions. Fairness and Efficiency. Distribution of income. Measuring economic inequality.

SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
Social Interactions and game theory. Nash equilibrium. Prisoners’ dilemma. Pareto criterion. Public good game. Social norms and social preferences. Climate change and climate negotiations as an application.

PRICES, SUPPLY, AND DEMAND
Price-Setting Firms and Consumers. Economies of scale. Production and costs. Demand and elasticity. Setting price and quantity to maximize profits. Producer and consumer surplus. Competition & market power.
Supply and Demand. Market-clearing price. Competitive equilibrium and price-taking. Changes in supply and demand. Short-run and long-run. Effect of taxes.

MARKET EFFICIENCY AND MARKET FAILURES
Market Efficiency. First Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics. Market Failures. Externalities. Public Goods. Property Rights. Case studies and applications to Sustainability, Climate Change and the Environment.

INTERTEMPORAL CHOICES
Intertemporal choices. Consumption smoothing and banking. Interest rates and discount rates. Applications to discounting, external effects, and the future of the planet.

MEASURING WELLBEING
Growth. Measuring the aggregate economy. GDP. Inequality. Alternative measures: HDI, genuine savings, System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). Natural Capital.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Lectures

24

Autonomous Student Learning

80

Total

104

Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a lecture-based module, complemented by independent study. Lectures are meant to introduce the topics, clarify the learning objectives, and cover key content. Students are then asked to complement the lectures with the assigned readings and self-assessment exercises. The readings provide clarifications, examples, applications and additional content on the topic. Self-assessment exercises help the students track their progress and apply what they have learnt with the objective of activating critical thinking and consolidating their knowledge of the topic. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

There are no pre-requisites for this course, and this course is not a pre-requisite for moving into Level Two Economics


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Incompatibles:
ECON10770 - Introduction to Economics


 
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Examination: End of Trimester examination
2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No

70

No
Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Intermediate assessment during the trimester Unspecified n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No

30

No

Carry forward of passed components
No
 
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive their grade and answer key so they can determine what they got wrong in the assessment.

Name Role
Dr Guohao Yang Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Johannes Scheuerer Tutor