SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

(RID) Microeconomic Theory and Techniques

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

The course provides students with a thorough treatment of modern microeconomics, building on a plurality of analytical frameworks such as institutional, structural, evolutionary and critical economic theories as well as advancements in conventional economics. In this course particular emphasis is put on the microeconomics of development and those theoretical constructs useful for disentangling the dynamics of economic systems. Specifically the course will cover Game Theory (with a focus on ‘social and strategic interaction’); Theories of the firm, Production and Change (with a focus on the ‘structural embeddedness’ of economic development); Theories dealing with ‘real world’ market phenomena (namely, Asymmetric Information, Labour Processes and Relations, Externalities, Public Goods, Commons and Collective Action theories). Moreover the building blocks of conventional economics (Consumption Theory, General Equilibrium and Competition Theories) will be critically discussed and alternative perspectives introduced.

This course will delivered alongside the parallel course Microeconomics, worth 18 CATS credits. Students will have the opportunity to attend all lectures, but the examinable component will be approximately 85% of the 18 CATS credits syllabus. The following topic will not be part of the examinable component of this course: Week 5: Competition is as competition does?

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of the course, students will be expected to:
  • Understand the internal structure and assumptions of the different analytical frameworks, their explanatory power and limitations;
  • Summarise and present different theoretical models in a conceptually and analytically rigorous form, also with references to case studies;
  • Adopt different analytical concepts and models in framing development and policy-relevant problems.

Scope and syllabus

The majority of the lectures will start by addressing specific ‘puzzles’ whose solution will require engaging with different concepts and theoretical frameworks. These puzzles will include game theory in-class simulations, historical curiosities and passages from classical economics papers. Case studies are then used from a variety of developing countries to illustrate problems and to compare the explanatory power of different concepts/frameworks. A background in economics is important, though no advanced mathematical ability is assumed. Conceptual and analytical rigour will be given priority over mathematical treatments.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / Coursework 30% (1 essay). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.

Suggested reading

Background Reading
For a treatment of conventional microeconomics:
  • Gravelle, H. and R. Rees (2004) Microeconomics, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall.
  • Varian, H. (1992) Microeconomic Analysis, 3rd ed., Norton.

For a treatment of alternative microeconomics frameworks:

  • Bowles, S. (2004) Microeconomics. Behaviour, Institutions and Evolution, Princeton.
  • Elsner, W. (2012) Microeconomics of Interactive Economies. Evolutionary, Institutional and Complexity Perspectives, Edward Elgar.
  • Varoufakis, Y. (1998) Foundations of Economics, Routledge.
  • Keen, S. (2011) Debunking Economics, Zed.
  • Fine, B. (Forthcoming) Microeconomics Textbook (Draft available in BLE)

For a treatment of game theory:

  • Dixit, A., Skeath, S. and D. Reiley (2009/15) Games of Strategy, 3rd or 4th ed., Norton.
  • Kreps, D. (1990) Game Theory and Economic Modelling, Oxford.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules