Surrey University Stag


Module code: ECO2051

Module Overview

This module will build on, and extend, what students have learned in previous microeconomics courses.  We will continue to study how agents make optimising decisions, but here with a focus on how those decisions can be inefficient when there are market failures, as opposed to the perfectly competitive world that students have mostly studied before in, for example, the Microeconomics module in the previous semester. Some prominent real-world examples are environmental externalities, or the provision of public goods. We will also explore common mechanisms that have been developed to try and move decisions to more efficient outcomes; for example taxes, tradable permits, preference revelation mechanisms. We will study how societies, rather than individuals, can make collective decisions over resource allocations when preferences differ across the population – again, particularly relevant in the case of public goods. Some of the topics may have been touched on in level 4, but students will see how learning progresses by looking at topics in more detail and with more rigour. Paralleling this, the learning outcomes in this module will provide a basis upon which to build for some of level 6’s microeconomic-based modules.

Module provider


Module Leader

BLOW Laura (Economics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: L120

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 85

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 5

Guided Learning: 38

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Social Welfare, aggregation of preferences, Arrow’s impossibility theorem

  • Externalities, Pigouvian taxes

  • Public goods, preference revelation mechanisms

  • Uncertainty

  • Asymmetric information, principal-agent (contract) theory

  • Auction theory

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
School-timetabled exam/test MIDTERM TEST 30
Examination EXAM 70

Alternative Assessment

Not applicable

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of how the economic (theoretical) frameworks they have studied in the course help to explain important issues such as decisions about societal welfare, externalities, public goods and imperfect information.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A midterm test (30% of the final mark)

  • A final exam (70% of the final mark)

.Formative assessment and feedback

Students are encouraged to ask questions and will receive verbal feedback during lectures and workshops/tutorials. They can also attend the module leader’s regular weekly student consultation hours, or meet by appointment. Students are provided with a fortnightly set of exercises relating to the lecture material which they solve independently or in teams and can then attend a tutorial session for feedback. In these tutorials, they receive feedback on their answers, and guidance on how these answers could be improved. For both the coursework test and the exam, sample questions are made available for students so that they can familiarise themselves with the format. Model answers and feedback are also provided for these mock exams. Students are also encouraged to post, and to answer others’ questions on the module webpage discussion board. The module leader also uses the discussion board to answer students’ questions.

Module aims

  • To show how powerful economics is as a framework for analysing pervasive market failure problems just as the over-use of common goods, the inefficient provision of some goods and services, and informational asymmetries between two sides of a market.
  • To promote an understanding of how agents behave when markets are limited or non-existent and why this leads to undesirable outcomes.
  • To investigate ways in which such market failures can be addressed in order to improve economic outcomes.
  • To go through some case studies to illustrate how important these phenomena are to real-world economic policy.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To understand the implications of different types of market failure for microeconomic analysis in a formal mathematical framework. KC
004 Students will learn how the economics covered in the module is used by policymakers and practitioners to address real-world issues. KCPT
002 For students to also be able to graphically and intuitively explain the theory they learn. KCT
003 For students to be able to apply the techniques they learn to new situations by identifying relevant information on a specific topic and using this information to complete a given task. KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Enhance skills in applying the techniques of consumer choice to more complex situations such as choice under uncertainty or optimal choices in a societal setting

  • Enhance understanding and intuition of microeconomic theory

  • Enhance skills in applying mathematical methods to microeconomic theory

  • Encourage independent research via guided learning tasks

  • Promote an understanding of the use of economics in public policy

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 2 hours lecture per week x 11 weeks

  • 1 hour tutorial per week x 5 weeks

In the face-to-face lectures we will cover the core theory of the topic we are studying that week. This material will have been released before the lectures and students are encouraged to go over this beforehand and to ask any questions they have during the lecture. We will then take the core material and apply it to example problems or to extensions of the material. These will sometimes have been given to the students before the lecture as guided learning.

The aim of the guided learning is two-fold. Firstly it encourages students to find information relevant to a particular question independently and use that information to answer or discuss the question. The second aim is for the students to have had time to think about the issue beforehand so as to facilitate interaction with the module leader. Even if they were not entirely successful, we can discuss how they tried to approach the problem. For each topic we will also discuss real-world examples of where, for example, policy-makers face the issues we are discussing and have used some of the solutions that we have covered. Examples could be environmental taxes, government auctions or how to provide public goods.

The problem sets for the tutorials give students the opportunity to apply the core material covered in lectures to example problems. These problems are also very helpful in preparing for the kind of questions that might be asked in the exams. Students are expected to attempt the problems independently or in study groups before the tutorial. Only by trying questions, perhaps not being successful and having to try a different approach, or asking for guidance in the tutorial, will students fully understand the techniques they are learning and, importantly, how to apply them to a new, slightly unfamiliar situation. The tutorials for the problem sets are given to the students in several smaller groups so as to create an atmosphere where students can ask for feedback and guidance on their working.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ECO2051

Other information

The School of Economics is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities particularly in the following areas:

  1. Encouraging independent research to apply and expand on the taught content. This requires the use of analytical and critical thinking to recognize and condense the relevant information which develops resourcefulness and resilience and is a key skill for future employability. It can also call for the use of digital resources to source information (digital capabilities)
  2. Illustrating the application of the economic theory covered to real economic and social issues which will enhance global and cultural intelligence. These techniques are used by policymakers and applied economists which therefore contributes to future employability.
  3. Covering the topic of externalities, a key framework for analysing the problems that lead to excessive pollution, the over-use of natural resources, global warming for example, and for looking at some solutions to these problems. This relates to sustainability issues.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Politics and Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Financial Mathematics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Economics and Mathematics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.