ECON 1201 Principles of Microeconomics (DRAFT #1)

InstructorRob Szarka
OfficeMontieth 328
HoursThur 2:30-3:30 p.m. or by appointment
Emailrobert.szarka "at"

Course Description

From the course catalog:

How the invisible hand of the market functions through the economic decisions of firms and individuals. How prices, wages and profits are determined, resources are allocated and income is distributed. Topical subjects (e.g., energy policy and health care). May be taken before or after ECON 1202. Not open for credit to students who have passed ECON 1200 or ECON 113. May not be taken concurrently with ECON 1200.

Students enrolled in this section of ECON 1201 can receive honors credit. You must be enrolled in the Honors Program to take advantage of this option. See for more information.

As an honors course, this class has been specifically designed to "offer greater intellectual rigor, more opportunities for active and participatory learning, and the chance to study with other highly-motivated and intellectually-engaged students". All class members (not just honors students) will be expected to attend class, present material to the class, participate actively in class discussion, and pursue topics that interest them beyond the required reading. In short, if you expect to just "get by", this is not the right section of ECON 1201 for you! On the other hand, I expect that every conscientious student will not only earn a good grade, but enjoy the class more than a large lecture section.

For more information about economics as a major course of study, see the American Economic Association and the UConn Economics Department web sites.

Course Goals

At the end of this course, you should...

You may also improve your ability to...

Less tangible, but equally important: you should have fun! Likewise, this class will be less than a complete success if I don't also learn and have fun!

Course Texts

The only required text you'll need to buy is Modern Principles: Microeconomics by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok. The looseleaf version is available at the campus bookstore. A more expensive paperback version is available from the publisher or via Amazon. We will cover nearly all of this text.

We will also read selected chapters from Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism by Gary Becker and Richard Posner. The bookstore also has a limited number of copies of this book, though you can read substantially the same material in the archives of the Backer-Posner Blog if you'd like to save a few bucks.

The remainder of the readings will come from free online sources, including Stand-Up Economics: The Micro Textbook (formerly Quantum Microeconomics) by Yoram Bauman and Introduction to Economic Analysis by R. Preston McAfee.

Finally, I have also prepared a list of optional books that may interest you. They are in no way required, but you might consider reading one of them to help you contribute to class discussion and/or frame a topic for a class presentation.


As decided at our first class meeting, your final grade will be calculated using the following weights: 10% Class Participation, 50% Homework & Quizzes, 40% Exams

There will be two exams: an in-class midterm and a final given according to the university's schedule. They will count for 10% and 30%, or 20% and 20%, respectively, whichever is more favorable to you. Note Bene: In accordance with university policy, make-up final exams will only be given with written permission from the Dean of Students.

Homework, in-class exercises, and short quizzes will be sprinkled liberally throughout the semester. No make-ups will be given for missed quizzes or assignments. (Homework will be accepted via email if it is sent before class and in one of the following formats: PDF, ODF, LaTeX, HTML, or plain ASCII or UTF-8 text. Documents sent in a proprietary Microsoft format will be deleted unread.) On the other hand, I will drop the lowest 30% of your points on quizzes and assignments to allow for life's inevitable vicissitudes.

One of your homework assignments will be a five (& no more than five!) minute presentation to the class on an economics-related topic of your choice. (Please email me at least one week in advance to schedule your presentation.) You may (or may not) wish to use the format employed by Ignite to structure your talk, but in any case you may find videos of past Ignite presentations inspirational. Here are a few to try:

(Speaking of chickens, you'll know you've watched too many presentations when this video seems funny to you.)

Class Participation

I will expect you to show up to class regularly (though life does occasionally make this a challenge—don't come to class if you have swine flu!), having completed the assigned reading and worked through any associated end-of-chapter problems. You should be ready to present your answers at the whiteboard. I will also pose short questions to the class or to specific students for follow-up in subsequent classes.

You're all adults and I'm confident you'll show me and one another respect by turning off your cell phone, setting your IM status to Away, keeping side conversations to a minimum, and disagreeing without being disagreeable.

Learning Disabilities

If you have a diagnosed learning disability and will need special arrangements for classes or exams, please bring me a letter from the Center for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible. No special consideration can be given without documentation.

Academic Integrity

From UCONN's Student Code:

A fundamental tenet of all educational institutions is academic honesty; academic work depends upon respect for and acknowledgement of the research and ideas of others. Misrepresenting someone else's work as one's own is a serious offense in any academic setting and it will not be condoned. Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, providing or receiving assistance in a manner not authorized by the instructor in the creation of work to be submitted for academic evaluation (e.g. papers, projects, and examinations); any attempt to influence improperly (e.g. bribery, threats) any member of the faculty, staff, or administration of the University in any matter pertaining to academics or research; presenting, as one's own, the ideas or words of another for academic evaluation; doing unauthorized academic work for which another person will receive credit or be evaluated; and presenting the same or substantially the same papers or projects in two or more courses without the explicit permission of the instructors involved. A student who knowingly assists another student in committing an act of academic misconduct shall be equally accountable for the violation, and shall be subject to the sanctions and other remedies described in The Student Code.
Enough said.


See the Tentative Schedule for assignment dates and links to readings.

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