Learning outcomes of the course unit
Knowledge and understanding The course aims to provide students with the basic concepts and principles of political economy, considering the major recent advances that have characterized the frontier areas of research in economics. In particular, the course intends to provide students with fundamental knowledge related to: the characteristics of different types of market structures, the market failures, the behavior of firms, the principle of comparative advantage, the components and measurement of GDP, the notion of economic growth, the functions of money and the short-run economic fluctuations.
Applying knowledge and understanding The student will be able to maintain and discuss clearly, through appropriate arguments, possible proposals and considerations related to problems and issues of various complexity in the economic sphere related to issues discussed in the course, such as market efficiency and equity and the key issues in a macroeconomic perspective, such as unemployment, inflation, and the determinants of economic growth.
Making judgements At the end of the course students will have acquired the ability to critically interpret the main economic events at the center of the national and international debate, also through the collection of data and information from reliable sources.
Communication skills Students will be able to communicate their own comments and ideas on the issues of political economy analyzed in the course to various interlocutors effectively and appropriately.
Learning skills Student will develop a personal method of study and acquire the ability to undertake, in the most independent way possible, more complex and thorough studies, particularly in respect to economic issues.
Course contents summary
The general part of the course will consider both a microeconomic approach (the analysis of the behavior of single economic agents, such as consumers and firms, and of their interactions in single markets) and a macroeconomic one (the analysis of variables and phenomena at an aggregate level).
The program of this part will focus on:
- an introduction to economics;
- the principle of comparative advantage;
- the functioning of the market, analyzing the concepts of demand and supply, and presenting the concept of elasticity of demand and supply and its applications;
- the concepts of consumers surplus, producer surplus and market efficiency;
- the concepts of externalities, public goods and common resources;
- firm’s behavior and the notions of production functions, costs, revenues, and economies of scale;
- different types of market structures, such as perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly and monopolistic competition
- components of GDP and its measurement;
- the concept of economic growth in relation to the concept of economic development and the determinants of economic growth; saving and investment; unemployment;
- money and prices (the meaning of money; the functions of money;
money supply and demand; inflation and its costs);
- short-run economic fluctuations (spending multiplier, aggregate demand and aggregate supply);
- the recent financial crisis.
The special part of the course will develop the themes of welfare economics.
With reference to the general part:
N.G. MANKIW M.P. TAYLOR, L’essenziale di economia, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2012, Quinta edizione (pp. 518).
With reference to the special part
Intervento pubblico, efficienza ed equità (booklet available at the department) (pp. 28).
Assessment methods and criteria
Written and oral exam.
The knowledge and understanding will be assessed with two open questions (each worth 5 points), which ask a short answer that is specifically aimed at verifying the knowledge of the concepts and principles discussed in the course.
The communication skills, the ability to apply the acquired knowledge through appropriate arguments and reflections and the autonomy of judgment will be assessed with two open questions (each worth 10 points), structured on several points which require the articulation of a discourse which integrates different notions acquired during the course in a coherent and logical way.
Learning skills will be assessed on the basis of an assessment across the various answers to the different questions of the exam.
The oral test concerns all the issues of the course and fills any gaps which eventually emerge in the written test.
Optional written test (max 3 points) consisting of two true-false questions with explanation of the answer and of an open question associated with a comment on a graph.
For students who attend lectures written exercises which replace the final written exam are held during the course.