SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Preliminary mathematics and statistics

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

This course is an integral part for all students taking any of the MSc programmes in Development Economics, MSc Development Economics with reference to a Region, MSc in Finance and Development, MSc in Economics with reference to Environment and Development, MSc Research for International Development, and MSc Political Economy of Development.

This course revises material usually taught in an undergraduate degree. A knowledge of algebra, calculus, and probability distributions is assumed. It is taught intensively for three weeks in September and consists of three parts: mathematics, statistics and computing. Students take an examination at the end of the course.

Topics covered include:
  • Differentiation and optimisation techniques
  • Integration
  • Simple differential equations
  • Matrix algebra
  • Statistical distributions
  • Properties of estimators
  • Interval estimation and hypothesis testing.

The other courses in the MSc build on this foundation.

Further information

Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics Information Sheet and Timetable 2017/18

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  1. Use matrices for simple manipulations and systems of equations; use Jacobian determinants to test for functional dependence; understand derivatives, differentials and total and partial derivatives; use exponential and logarithmic functions to analyse growth; find unconstrained and constrained optima of functions with one or more choice variables.
  2. Calculate and interpret different measures of descriptive statistics; understand probability theory, understand joint, marginal and conditional probability distributions and their properties, work with the normal and related distributions; understand the desirable small and large sample properties of estimators; conduct interval estimation and hypothesis testing.
  3. Use web-based sources for development data and economic research; use Excel for basic statistical analysis and matrix manipulation.

Suggested reading

Background Reading
  • C. Chiang and K. Wainwright, Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics, 4th
    Edition. McGraw-Hill, 2005
  • E T Dowling, Introduction to Mathematical Economics, 3rd Edition, Schaum’s Outline Series, McGraw-Hill, 2000.
  • I.,Jacques, Mathematics for Economics and Business, 6th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2009.
  • R L Thomas, Using Mathematics in Economics, 2nd edition, Addison-Wesley Longman, 1999

  • D. Gujarati and D.C. Porter, Basic Econometrics, 5th Edition, Mc-Graw-Hill, 2009; Particularly
    the Statistical Appendix.
  • M. Barrow, Statistics for Economics, Accounting and Business Studies, 5th Edition, Prentice
    Hall, 2009.
  • R. L. Thomas,Using Statistics in Economics. McGraw-Hill, 2005.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules