Course Syllabus

Welcome to ECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.


Course Description

This course is an exploration of the factors that impact the overall performance of economies. The course focuses on public policies helping and hindering the achievement of intended outcomes, such as reducing unemployment or increasing trade.


Course Introduction

Economics is traditionally divided into two parts: microeconomics and macroeconomics. The main purpose of this course is to introduce you to the principles of macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the study of how a country's economy works while trying to discern among good, better, and best choices for improving and/or maintaining a nation's standard of living and level of economic and societal well-being. Historical and contemporary perspectives on the roles and policies of government are part of the mix of interpretations and alternatives that surround questions of who or what gains and loses the most or least within a relatively small set of key interdependent players. In the broadest view, that set consists of households, consumers, savers, firm owners, investors, agency and elected officials, and global trading partners in which some wear many hats and face price considerations at two levels.

Consider one distinction between macroeconomics and microeconomics through the way prices are taken into account in both divisions. On one hand, microeconomics focuses on how supply and demand within a given market determine prices. On the other hand, macroeconomics focuses on changes in the price level across all markets. Another distinction resides within goals. A study of microeconomics orients itself toward firm profit maximization and output optimization as well as consumer utility maximization and consumption optimization. In contrast, a study of macroeconomics situates itself around a number of goals including economic growth, price stability, and full employment.

Macroeconomic performance relies on measures of economic activity, focusing on variables and data at the national level within a specific period of time. Macroeconomics entails analyses of aggregate measures such as national income, national output, unemployment and inflation rates, and business cycle fluctuations. This course will prompt you to think critically about the national and global issues we currently face, to consider competing views that may agree or disagree with your own, and to draw challenging conclusions from a vast array of perspectives, tools, and alternatives.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Overview of Economics
  • Unit 2: Macroeconomics: Goals, Measures, and Challenges
  • Unit 3: Unemployment and Inflation
  • Unit 4: Aggregate Economic Activities and Fluctuations
  • Unit 5: Fiscal Policy
  • Unit 6: Monetary Policy and Various Complexities Behind Macroeconomic Policies
  • Unit 7: International Trade


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • discuss key macroeconomic concerns, including national income accounting, saving and investment, and market forces;
  • describe the determinants of total output and the ways to measure nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as real GDP;
  • describe and differentiate among full employment and unemployment, the three forms of unemployment, and the two forms of inflation;
  • explain different ways of computing the general movement in prices;
  • describe the relationship between inflation and unemployment;
  • explain the model of aggregate demand and aggregate supply;
  • analyze a government's roles in the economy;
  • evaluate how a government uses its fiscal policy and monetary policy to influence key variables in order to achieve economic growth, price stability, full employment, and other goals;
  • describe the mechanics of money supply in detail:
    • identify different types of money;
    • articulate the roles of individual banks and the entire banking system in creating money;
    • explain the money multiplier the process of interest rate determination;
    • discuss the role of the Federal Reserve System and its tools of monetary policy; and
  • evaluate the net gains arising from international trade.

Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all of the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also end-of-unit assessments and other activities in this course. These are intended to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want to, until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the navigation bar.

Tips for Success

ECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or set schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 43 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use to study later on. 
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and make you more likely to retain information over time. 
  • Although you may work through this course on your own, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor Academy students through the discussion forums. You can find the discussion forum at


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in. 
  • For the Wolfram Demonstrations Project simulations throughout the course, you will need to download and install the free version of from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Although this software is free, it is a sizable download. The Wolfram simulations are therefore optional.
  • In order to complete several of the quizzes in this course you will be asked to enter and interpret data from interactive worksheets presented in Microsoft Excel. If you do not have the Microsoft program, you may choose to download Apache OpenOffice for free.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 1:18 PM