Course Syllabus

Welcome to ECON201: Intermediate Microeconomics

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 Student Handbook.


Course Description

Get a rigorous introduction to resource allocation in a market economy, with a particular emphasis on the interaction of supply and demand, utility and profit maximization, elasticity, perfect competition, monopoly power, imperfect competition, and game theory.


Course Introduction

This course is designed to extend your knowledge of the basic microeconomic principles that will provide the foundation for your future work in economics and give you insight into how economic models can help us think about important real-world phenomena. Topics include the interaction of supply and demand, utility and profit maximization, elasticity, perfect competition, monopoly power, imperfect competition, and game theory.

Microeconomics is the study of rational choice behavior on the part of individual consumers and firms. In general, economists are interested in how market mechanisms solve extremely complex resource allocation problems. This course presents a logical and coherent framework in which to organize observed economic phenomena. Several economic "models" are developed and analyzed in order to help explain and predict a wide variety of economic (and sometimes, seemingly non-economic) phenomena. Microeconomic theory is based on the notion that individuals (and firms) have well-defined objectives (such as maximizing utility or profits) and behave systematically according to the incentives and constraints of their economic environment. It is this framework that allows the economist to gain a fundamental understanding of the choices people make in an economic setting.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction and Basic Concepts
  • Unit 2: Trade and Externalities
  • Unit 3: Producer Theory and Investment
  • Unit 4: Consumer Theory and Equilibrium
  • Unit 5: Competition


Course Learning Outcomes

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

  • explain the standard theory in microeconomics at an intermediate level;
  • explain and use the basic tools of microeconomic theory, and apply them to help address problems in public policy;
  • analyze the role of markets in allocating scarce resources;
  • explain both competitive markets, for which basic models of supply and demand are most appropriate, and markets in which agents act strategically, for which game theory is the more appropriate tool;
  • synthesize the impact of government intervention in the market;
  • develop quantitative skills in doing economic cost and consumer analysis using calculus;
  • compare and contrast arguments concerning business and politics, and make good conjectures regarding the possible solutions;
  • analyze the economic behavior of individuals and firms, and explore how they respond to changes in the opportunities and constraints that they face and how they interact in markets; and
  • apply basic tools that are used in many fields of economics, including household economics, labor economics, production theory, international economics, natural resource economics, public finance, and capital markets.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, 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 will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the 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, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

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


Tips for Success

ECON201: Intermediate Microeconomics 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 an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 87 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 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 as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some 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 will make you more likely to retain information over time.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at
  • This class presents a rigorous framework for developing economic analysis. The material is challenging and relies heavily upon quantitative skills. The course utilizes calculus to explain the basic underpinnings of economic theory. While some of the concepts are similar to the introductory microeconomics course, the material in this class develops more complex relationships and requires greater synthesis of abstract ideas.
  • Knowledge of multivariable calculus is a prerequisite for this course. If you are struggling with the mathematics as you progress through this course, consider taking a break to refresh your working memory, focusing especially on optimization techniques. Do not get discouraged if some of the equations look daunting; try to break them down and understand what they mean in terms of theory or applications. After a set time, perhaps 15 minutes, set any puzzling material aside and return to it later with a fresh perspective.
  • Many of the assumptions in the models are somewhat unrealistic on the first inspection. For example, certain functions are used more for their differentiability rather than for their ability to describe real-world phenomena. As you progress in economics, these assumptions can be relaxed to build models that better approximate the actual environment.
  • For many economics majors, Intermediate Microeconomics is their first exposure to using multivariate calculus as an applied tool; however, remember to explore theory and policy applications. An economist must be able to effectively compare varying economic scenarios and offer practical solutions. Remember that economics is both a business discipline and a social science subject.


Suggested Prerequisites

In order to take this course, you should:


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 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: Monday, September 28, 2020, 1:56 PM