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The Power of Markets

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The course will give you the tools with which to understand and predict market phenomena. A large dose of real-world applications will be provided along the way. These applications illustrate the power and relevance of underlying microeconomic theory while providing you a valuable opportunity to put the theory into practice.


About The Course

The Power of Markets is designed to arm you with the fundamental tools of microeconomic analysis and to show how the tools can be used to explain and predict the behavior of individuals, organizations, and markets. We will cover the basic principles of microeconomics in a clear and through way, using numerous applications to illustrate the use of theory and to reinforce your understanding of it.

Microeconomics is the most important course in any undergraduate economics curriculum. Understanding microeconomics also provides an essential foundation to any bachelor’s or master’s degree business student. As a result, this course is designed so that both economics and business students will learn microeconomic theory and how to use it effectively. The course, of course, is beneficial to even a broader demographic that includes high school students to professionals drawn from fields such as finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, consulting, pricing, health care, public policy, education, and law. Indeed, the course is of relevance to all who seek a better understanding of the way in which markets affect our lives and livelihoods.


Module 1

Week 1:   Supply and Demand

Week 2:  Supply and Demand

Week 3:  Consumer Choice 

Week 4:  Consumer Choice and the Benefits of Exchange

Module 2

Week 5:  Production

Week 6:  Cost Minimization

Week 7:  Profit Maximization in Perfectly Competitive Markets

Week 8: Monopoly Power:  Its Sources and How to Use It

Module 3

Week 9:   Product Pricing With Monopoly Power

Week 10:   Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly

Week 11:   The Market for Inputs

Week 12:   Can Government Intervention Improve Market Outcomes?

NOTE - This course will provides students with a break from November 24-November 30 and from December 22-January 4.

Suggested Readings

Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we recommend (but do not require) that students refer to the following book which was written particularly for this course: Edgar K. Browning and Mark Zupan, Microeconomics: Theory and Applications, 12th edition, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2014. (pdfs of the chapters from the new 12th edition will be available within the course. Students may also elect to purchase the 11th edition.) 

Advance copies available for purchase in pdf form from the publisher will be available, for those students interested in the additional helpful material to assist with their learning of the material.

Course Format

Course Format: 8-12 video segments per week each 5-10 minutes in length.

Brief lecture notes to accompany each video segment.

Online questions associated with each video segment.

Weekly online quizzes/tests.

Final exam for each 4-week module.

Recommended Background

A fundamental curiosity about how markets work and the willingness, especially among those with no prior economics training, to keep up with the recommended reading.


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

    Beyond the Statement of Accomplishment for completing this course, up to 100 students who score at least 90 percent on the final exam will be provided with a small travel stipend and invited to visit the University of Rochester’s Simon School campus for a few days in June 2014 to attend a series of in-person review sessions with Dean Mark Zupan and then to take an in-person final exam on the course.  Students who score at a sufficiently high level on the in-person final exam will be offered an application fee waiver ($150 value), should they choose to apply for admission to one of Simon’s graduate degree programs.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, copies of the texts (most of which can be obtained for free), and the time to read, write, discuss, and enjoy some marvelous literature.

  • What is the coolest thing that I’ll learn if I take this course?

    The Power of Markets will teach you how to think in a deep and meaningful way about the role markets and entrepreneurs play in creating value and bettering society. We will also explore government intervention in markets including Obamacare/health care, education, energy/fracking, immigration reform, Social Security, minimum wage legislation, finance, trade restrictions, unfunded state and local government worker pension liabilities, airline regulation, and so on. Does such intervention make society better or worse off? To paraphrase the Nobel-prize-winning essayist T.S. Eliot, “we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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    Video Quality

    3-5 hours/week