Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Economic Principles II: Microeconomics (ECON2021).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce some of the major tools of the mathematics of optimisation
  • To illustrate the power of mathematical analysis in a variety of economic contexts
  • To provide the opportunity to participate in student-centred learning
  • To offer the opportunity to develop some key skills.


  • Unconstrained Optimisation: Necessary conditions in many variables. Maximum value functions and the Envelope Theorem.
  • Constrained Optimisation: The method of Lagrange and the Envelope Theorem. Functional shape, sets and sufficient conditions for optimisation.
  • Consumer Theory: The direct and indirect utility functions and Roy's Identity. The dual problem, and Slutsky's equation. Properties of demand functions.
  • Producer Theory: Cost minimisation and the cost function. The Le Chatelier principle, and firm behaviour in the short and long run. Deriving production functions via duality.
  • Optimisation over Time: Introducing a time dimension. The Maximum Principle and the Hamiltonian equation in continuous time.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should be familiar with the optimisation techniques used in economic models, and be able to apply these techniques over a wide range of problems.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Specifically, they should be able to comprehend technical articles in mainstream economic journals.
Key Skills:
  • Written Communication - tthrough summative assessment.
  • Planning, Organisation and Time Management - preparing for examinations.
  • Problem Solving and Analysis - by applying the necessary analytical and quantitative skills, as well as the ability to manipulate concepts in undertaking assessed work.
  • Numeracy - e.g. by applying core mathematical skills to answer a range of class and examination questions.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is by lectures, tutorials and support for student-centred learning. Learning takes place through attendance at lectures, preparation for and participation in tutorial classes and private study (inlcuding student-centred learning). Formative assessment is by means of one piece of written work of 1500 words. Summative assessment is by means of an unseen written examination of two and a quarter hours duration.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Tutorials 8 Fortnightly 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 15 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Exercises throughout the year

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University