Syllabus and Introduction

Intermediate Microeconomics (Econ 100A)

Kristian López Vargas

UCSC - Fall 2017

About me

  • Assistant Professor – Economics UCSC

  • My field of work: Micro, Behav. & Exp. Econ

  • PhD in Economics from the Univ. of Maryland

  • Prev. experience: MEF, WB, IADB, UMD, Tel Reg.

  • Taught microeconomics before

Why take this class?

  • This course gives you tools to understand better how consumers and firms make decisions, and how market prices are determined (just the beginning).

  • It will sharpen your reasoning to determine if a certain action is "optimal" (best)

  • Examples:

    • Policy: Do we increase the minimum wage? If so, by how much?

    • Private Sector: What is the optimal price for a product. Is my company allocating its resources efficiently? Can we make/do more stuff? Can we lower our costs while having the same output?


Syllabus (1) Kristian

  • Email

  • Office hours: Fri 12:30-2:30 PM and by appointment

  • Engineering 2 Building - Office 419

  • Lectures: MWF from 2:40pm to 3:45pm. @ Kresge Clrm 321

Syllabus (2) TAs

  • Asha Shepard; Office Hours: Wednesday 4-5 PM & Friday 4-5 PM , Engineering 2 Rm 405G

  • Brett Williams; Office Hours: Monday 4-5pm & Tuesday 2-3pm , Engineering 2 Rm 403F

  • Jiayi Xu; Office Hours: 4-6 PM , Engineering 2 Rm 403F

Syllabus (3) Discussion Sections

Day / Time Location TA
M 05:20PM-06:25PM Soc Sci 2 167 Jiayi
M 06:40PM-07:45PM Soc Sci 2 167 Jiayi
F 08:00AM-09:05AM Soc Sci 2 165 Brett
F 09:20AM-10:25AM Soc Sci 2 165 Brett

Syllabus (4) MSI

Syllabus (5) Course Objectives

  • Microeconomics is a body of concepts for understanding the economic behavior of individuals, firms and markets.

  • Our main focus: understanding how supply and demand form and then operate together in a market.

  • We will highlight the different ways in which markets function; from perfectly competitive markets to monopolistic ones.

  • We will also study strategic interaction and market failures.

Syllabus (6) Prerequisites, Math

  • Economics 1 and calculus.

  • Mathematics is a vital tool for conducting economic analysis.

  • Main mathematical tools to be familiar with:

    • graphing functions on a plane,
    • solving a system of two (or three) equations and two unknown variables,
    • derivatives (get the concept and be able to compute the derivative of common functions).
    • Basic optimization

Syllabus (7) Textbook and Readings

  • Text: “Intermediate Microeconomics: A Modern Approach (Ninth Edition)” by Hal R. Varian.

  • The prior edition is acceptable as well.

  • Assigned chapters can be found in the Syllabus. Additional readings may be assigned during the quarter.

  • It is students’ responsibility to keep up with any important deviations from the current version.

  • If you want to read more than one book, I recommend Perloff's "Microeconomics"

Syllabus (8) Exams and Grading

  • Two midterms each worth 20% - Oct 20 and Nov 13

  • Comprehensive final exam worth 40% on Wed, Dec 13 (12PM-3PM).

  • Exams are closed book and notes may not be used. Bring only a pen, pencil, eraser, and scantron. Only a four-function calculator is allowed, although not really necessary.

Syllabus (9) Homework Assignments

  • 6 graded homework assignments worth 20% of the total grade.

  • Good news: the lowest grade will be dropped. An emergency prevented you from turning in your homework? Worry not; this policy will take care of that.

  • For each HW, 4 randomly chosen questions will be graded.

  • Late assignments will not be accepted

  • Team work is encouraged. However, everyone must hand in their own homework and show his/her work

Syllabus (10) Canvas (Piazza - Lecture Slides)

  • Course information and materials, including lectures, homeworks and practice exams, will be posted on Canvas ( It is each student’s responsibility to check Canvas for course updates and new material during the quarter.

  • Direct access to lecture materials and homework assignments here:

  • Questions about the material, homework and exams are only admissible via Piazza. You can access our Piazza page through Canvas.

  • Piazza is exclusively to discuss the subject matter. Students who violate this rule will be excluded from Piazza. Post are not anonymous.

Syllabus (11) Other Miscellanea

  • You will have access to the "Intermediate Micro Video Handbook" (IMVH) developed by UCSD-Economics. Look for the “UCSD IMVH” link on the class site on e-commons. This is optional, but likely helpful.

  • In some lectures, we will use MobLab ( to illustrate some economic concepts using interactions in classroom experiments or games (free). You will receive an invitation soon. This will give you a couple of points of HW credit at the end of the quarter.

  • Feedback and suggestions are very welcome!

  • Please include “[ECON 100A]” in the subject of every email you send to the instructor or TAs. For example: Subject: [ECON 100A] I have a question about HW2!

Syllabus (12) Misconduct

  • Academic Misconduct / Dishonesty: A student who is responsible for academic misconduct or dishonesty (cheating during tests, plagiarism etc) is subject to both academic and disciplinary sanctions. As the academic sanction, the student will automatically earn a failing grade for the course. Disciplinary sanctions are determined by the student’s College Provost or the Academic Tribunal. I encourage you to review the (new) Academic Misconduct Policy for Undergraduates:

Special Accommodations

  • Special Accommodations due to Disability: Any student who thinks s/he is in need of accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to submit their Accommodation Authorization and discuss specific needs. Please do this preferably within the first two weeks of the quarter. Please contact the Disability Resource Center at 831-459-2089 in room 125 Hahn Student Services or by e-mail at to coordinate those accommodations.

  • If you request special accommodations with the DRC, please make sure you also fill out this form:

Syllabus (13)

  • Final Class Rules: be on time, polite and respectful.

  • Earn honorary points, participate!

  • Use all the resources available (e.g. Modified Supplemental Instructions, TAs, IMVH, EconGraphs, etc etc etc)

  • If the class is too easy for you, do not settle, ask for more. I will point you to more advanced material so you can take it to the next level. :)

How to succeed in this course

  • If you are under some exceptional situation, talk to professor and TAs early.

  • Ask for advice on how to approach studying for this class.

  • Students who did well in this class:

    • Study on average 7 hours a week on their own.

    • Study way more than 10 hours in exam week.

    • 70% read textbook, ~80% never miss lectures, ~80% never miss sections.

    • Be consistent, practice your math, always study both theory and exercises.


What is Microeconomics

  • Microeconomics is the study of how individual economic decision-makers such as consumers, workers, firms or managers allocate scarce resources among alternate uses.

  • This study involves both the behavior of these economic agents on their own and the way such behavior interacts and aggregates to form larger entities such as markets.

Two basic postulates:

  • Rational Choice: Each person tries to choose the best alternative available to him or her.

  • Equilibrium: Market price adjusts until quantity demanded equals quantity supplied. More generally: state or condition of a system that will continue as long as the acting forces in the remain in balance.

  • Examples: Housing Prices; UBER.