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Course 2021-2022 a.y.


Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 25

BEMACS (8 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/01)
Course Director:

Classes: 25 (I sem.)

Mission & Content Summary

Students learn how to think about the myriad of real-world economic and noneconomic issues through the lens of microeconomic analysis. The elegant and powerful tools of microeconomic theory endow students with an analytical mindset and a strong quantitative preparation, which forms the building block for understanding the foundations of microeconomic analysis. The course combines mathematical rigor and a 360-degree vision of real-world economic and social phenomena to address fascinating questions about human behavior in economic and noneconomic settings.

  1. The beauty of microeconomics. How to think like an economist. Models and data. Math review.
  2. Budget and time constraints
  3. Preferences, utility, choice
  4. Demand, Slutsky equation, compensated demand curves.
  5. Buying and selling
  6. Labor supply
  7. Intertemporal choice
  8. Consumer's surplus
  9. Market demand and equilibrium
  10. Choice under uncertainty
  11. Measurement
  12. Auctions
  13. Game theory and its applications
  14. General equilibrium analysis
  15. Externalities and public goods
  16. Behavioral economics

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Acquire analytical skills to study real-world phenomena through the eyes of Microeconomics.
  • Develop the ability to write an economic model.
  • Understand the choice behavior of individuals, households, workers, firms, and governments through markets and nonmarket interactions.
  • Apply the economic way of thinking to other fields outside economics, including anthropology, biology, demography, history, medicine, political science, and sociology.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Compare the theoretical predictions of models and the empirical evidence on economic outcomes.
  • Develop a problem-solving attitude.
  • Develop team-building and team-working skills in a multicultural environment.
  • Learn to communicate in a clear and concise way.
  • Learn to set priorities, meet deadlines, and deliver the expected outcomes.
  • Develop the ability to think rigorously, analytically, and creatively at the same time.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Online lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)

We designed a course that enables students to acquire a profound understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of Microeconomics and its myriad applications to the real world. To accomplish this goal, the course is built around these building blocks (aka, pillars):


  • Theory Lectures

Understanding Microeconomics is about learning models and the theoretical framework through a combination of mathematical tools and economic intuition. In the theory lectures we learn together a series of concepts, models, graphs, and calculus-driven analysis that help us analyze myriads of economic and non-economic issues through the lens of economic analysis.

Skills acquired:

  • think in a general and abstract way
  • develop logical reasoning
  • learn how to write an economic model
  • mix mathematical rigor and economic intuition.


  • Individual Homeworks

12 individual homeworks (roughly one per week) are assigned through the Smartworks 5 platform. The platform automatically grades the homeworks and explains the solutions. Skills acquired:

  • setting priorities and meeting deadlines
  • problem solving attitude


  • Group Problem Sets

4 problem sets are assigned to groups of 3 or 4 students. Skills acquired:

  • team working and multicultural attitude
  • leadership skills
  • problem solving attitude
  • setting priorities and meeting deadlines


  • Discussion Room

To encourage interaction among instructors and students, through Blackboard you will be able to access the weekly Discussion Room in which Profs. Borghi and Botticini answer questions of general interest and offer insights on current events through the eyes of Microeconomics. Skills acquired:

  • ability to analyze and discuss current issues through the lens of microeconomic analysis

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x
  • Oral individual exam
  •   x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    

    From our point of view, attending and not attending students are identical. The material, the workload, the requirements, and the evaluation based on homeworks, problem sets, and exams, is identical for each student --- attending and not attending.


    With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the learning outcomes mentioned above, students’ assessment is based on the following criteria and weights:


    10%     12 individual homeworks through the SmartWorks 5 platform integrated into Blackboard


    10%     4 group problem sets uploaded through Blackboard                                          


    40%     a Midterm written exam on the first half of the program


    40%     a Final written exam on the second half of the program


    Instead of taking the midterm and the final exams, students can take

    80%     a General written exam on the entire program.


    • Detailed information regarding the duration and the structure of the exams will be provided during the first two weeks of the course.
    • Students are required to sign up for exams at least a week before the scheduled date (do not forget!!!).
    • Examinations are closed books. Graphical calculators are not allowed.
    • Grades are based on the X/30 cum laude scale with the minimum passing grade for the entire course being 18/30. A minimum grade of 10/30 in both the midterm and final exams must be obtained. If this is not the case, students will take a general exam on the entire program (the weights of the grades in the homeworks and problem sets remain the same even if you take the general exam).

    Teaching materials

    You can find all the relevant information on BlackBoard (syllabus, lecture notes, individual homeworks, group problem sets, past exams, additional helpful material)      



    • We searched to find a book that combines a rigorous mathematical treatment of Microeconomics together with many applications and real-world examples. We chose Hal H. Varian. Intermediate Microeconomics with Calculus. International Student Edition. First edition. Norton Company (2020). ISBN 9780393690019
    • The purchase gives access to the SmartWorks 5 platform, which is required for the Homeworks.
    • The textbook is available at Egea bookstore, or through the publisher website (2 weeks for delivery), or through Amazon. Make sure you purchase the edition listed above with the correct ISBN number.
    Last change 19/07/2021 14:23