SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Introductory Mathematics for Economists

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

This is an introductory course for first year students with NO A levels mathematics. The course offers essential quantitative skills useful for current and future undergraduate core courses. It covers basic mathematical and statistical concepts. The first component includes topics as: basic algebra, polynomial, logarithmic and exponential functional forms, differentiation and unconstrained and constrained optimisation. The statistics component focuses on descriptive statistics, probability theory.

This is a core for Year 1 students with no A level maths taking BSc Economics and BSc Development Economics and for Year 1 or 2 of students with no A level maths taking a two-subjects degree with Economics. It is a prerequisite for Statistics.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Understand laws of indices, roots and surds an perform algebraic manipulation of polynomials, including expanding brackets and collecting like terms and factorisation
  2. Solve quadratic and cubic equations; understand the role and use of the discriminant and the factor theorem
  3. Solve simultaneous equations by substitution and elimination, and inequalities
  4. Perform graphical analysis of functions, sketch curves defined by simple equations, geometrical interpretation of algebraic solution of equations and systems of equation,
  5. Understand exponential and logarithmic functions and laws of exponentials and logarithms
  6. Use exponential and logarithmic functions to analyse growth , interest compounding and investment appraisal
  7. Understand differentiation and higher order derivatives for univariate functions
  8. Understand partial derivatives and total differentials for multivariate functions
  9. Demonstrate understanding of and ability to explain the economic applications of differentiation, and use it to formulate economic problems, including elasticities, marginal cost/ benefit, marginal product of labour/capital, marginal utilities.
  10. Find unconstrained optima of functions with one or more choice variables
  11. Find constrained optima using the Lagrange multiplier and substitution methods
  12. Understand and use these techniques to solve problems in economics, such as profit maximisation, cost minimisation or utility optimisation
  13. Apply descriptive statistics to summarise data and explain basic concepts of probability theory

Method of assessment

  • Exam: 80%
  • Math Assignment: 5%
  • Math Assignment: 5%
  • Math Assignment: 5%
  • Math Assignment: 5%

Suggested reading

Preliminary Reading:
  1. Jacques, I Mathematics for Economics and Business (6th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2009)
  2. Chiang, A. C. and K. Wainwright Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics (Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2005).
  3. Sydasaeter, K. and P Hammond Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis (3rd Edition, Prentice Hall, 2008)
  4. Renshaw, G. Maths for Economics (2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2009)
  5. Barrow, M. Statistics for Economics Accounting and Business Studies (5th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2009).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules