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Course Descriptions

James Wilson Department of Economics

Dynamics Building, 2015 Ivy Road
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
(434) 924-3177 Fax: (434) 982-2904

Overview The Department of Economics offers a program of study that instills an understanding of economic events and arrangements. In part, this understanding comes from learning facts about economic institutions and economic history. But facts do not interpret themselves. To be understood, these facts must be viewed through the lens of economic theory. The undergraduate program in economics emphasizes applications of economic theory to a wide variety of real-world events and arrangements. Students have opportunities to investigate the economic aspects of resource utilization, public policy, business, law, finance, and international trade. An in-depth study of economics teaches students to think clearly and critically about complex issues.

Faculty The University has a distinguished Department of Economics. Its twenty-five faculty members have international reputations in their areas of specialization and are committed to teaching undergraduates, training graduate students, and conducting economic research.

Students Currently, there are about 750 economics majors at the University. The number of students who enroll in one or both of the introductory economics courses greatly exceeds the number of Economics majors. The introductory courses are taught in a variety of formats, from large sections of as many as 500 students (which are supplemented by small discussion sections led by teaching assistants) to small sections of about 50. Higher-level courses typically–although not always–contain 40-60 students.

After graduating, most economics majors begin careers in business or finance. Of these, many enter M.B.A. programs after two or three years of work experience. A second group of the University’s economics graduates attend law school. Others choose a variety of paths: military service, work in the public sector, or medical school, for example. Each year, a few graduates continue their study of economics and related subjects in graduate school.

Requirements for Declaration of Major To declare the economics major:

  1. Prospective majors must have completed at least two economics courses at the University and have achieved a grade point average of at least 2.300 in all economics courses completed at the University at the time of declaration. For purposes of this requirement, an approved statistics course counts as an economics course. The approved statistics courses are ECON 371, ECON 372, MATH 312, APMA 312, and STAT 212. (APMA 311 may be substituted by engineering students with permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.)
  2. Prospective majors must have received a minimum grade of C+ in either ECON 201 or ECON 301.
  3. All prospective majors must have received credit for at least one semester of calculus with a minimum grade of C. This requirement may be satisfied with transfer or AP credit, but not with a course taken on a pass/fail basis.
  4. Entering third-year transfer students may declare a major in economics before completing any economics courses at UVa. However, they must have completed the calculus requirement.

To graduate with a major in economics, students must complete the calculus requirement described above. In addition, students must complete the five core courses listed below plus fifteen credits of additional economics electives and have a cumulative GPA in economics of 2.000 at the time of graduation. Of the fifteen credits of additional economics electives, at least twelve must be earned in courses numbered 300 or greater. Students are also strongly encouraged to complete a minimum of two 400-level courses. The core courses required of all majors are ECON 201, 202, 301 (or 311), 302 and an approved statistics course. The approved statistics courses are ECON 371, 372, MATH 312, APMA 312, and STAT 212. (Students in the School of Engineering may use APMA 311 with permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies). All of the core courses except ECON 302 must be completed by the end of the student’s sixth semester. Students are expected to complete ECON 302 prior to the beginning of their eighth semester. Majors who fail to do this will be dropped from the program. For more details on the procedure for calculating the economics GPA at the time of graduation, see the department’s undergraduate web page, www.virginia.edu/economics.

Distinguished Majors Program in Economics The Department of Economics has a Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) for those who seek to graduate with high or highest distinction in economics. Students in the DMP must take ECON 372 no later than the fall of their fourth year, enroll in ECON 411 in the fall of their fourth year, and write a thesis (ECON 496) under the supervision of a faculty member. Third-year economics majors with a cumulative GPA of 3.600 or better may apply.

Concentration in Financial Economics Economics majors may declare a concentration in financial economics. The requirements for this concentration are the ordinary requirements for the major with ECON 303 Money and Banking, ECON 434 Theory of Financial Markets, ECON 435 Corporate Finance, and ECON 436 Topics in Quantitative Finance as three of the economics electives. In addition, students must complete COMM 201 Financial Accounting, and MATH 310 (or APMA 310) Introduction to Mathematical Probability. Math 310 must be completed on a graded basis before taking ECON 436. (Note that MATH 310 has MATH 132 as a prerequisite.) Economics majors may declare the finance concentration as soon as they have completed MATH 310 (or APMA 310) or after the last day to drop a class in the seventh semester, provided they have completed or are currently enrolled in MATH 310 (or APMA 310).

Concentration in Public Policy Economics majors may declare a concentration in public policy no later than October 1 of their seventh semester. To declare it, students must have already completed ECON 301 or 311 with a grade of B or better, passed ECON 372 or, if declaring in their seventh semester, be enrolled in it, and passed ECON 431 or, if declaring in their seventh semester, be enrolled in it. In addition to the 5 core courses required for the major, students with this concentration must pass ECON 372 and ECON 431 by the end of their seventh semester. In addition, by graduation they must complete ECON 488 and at least three courses from the list below:

ECON 304, ECON 305, ECON 331, ECON 333, ECON 408, ECON 415, ECON 416, ECON 418, ECON 420, ECON 421, ECON 422, ECON 423, ECON 433, ECON 442, ECON 443, ECON 451.

Students who concentrate in public policy are encouraged to take courses in the Department of Politics. Some of these courses deal with important aspects of policy development that are not covered in economics courses. PLAP 266, 338, 424, 471, and 513; PLCP 413 and 525; and PLPT 480 are especially relevant.

Requirements for Minor Students who wish to minor in economics must complete ECON 201, 202, 301 or 311, an approved statistics course (listed above) and nine credits of ECON electives with a cumulative GPA of 2.000. At least six credits in economics elective courses must be earned in courses numbered 300 or above. None of the nine credits of economics electives offered for the minor may be taken via transfer credit or study abroad. They must also pass at least one semester of calculus (for example, MATH 121, 131, or APMA 109), which may not be taken on a credit/no-credit basis. Students may declare a minor as soon as they pass the four required courses, the calculus course, and attain a grade point average of at least 2.000 in all economics courses completed at UVa. College rules require that the minor be declared by the end of the add period in the semester before graduation, ordinarily the seventh semester. The procedure for declaring a minor in economics is described on the department’s undergraduate program web page.

Prospective Graduate Students Any student seriously considering graduate work in economics should take ECON 372 and several mathematics courses. MATH 132 and 231 are essential. Beyond these, the most useful courses for a prospective graduate student of economics are MATH 310, 312, 325, and 331, and 351.

Additional Information For more information, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Economics, 114 Rouss Hall, P.O. Box 400182, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182; (434) 924-3177; Fax: (434) 982-2904; www.virginia.edu/economics.

Course Descriptions


ECON 201 - (3) (S)
Principles of Economics: Microeconomics
Studies demand and supply, consumer behavior, the theory of business enterprise, the operation of competitive and monopolistic markets, and the forces determining income distribution. A full introduction to economic principles warrants completion of both ECON 201 and 202. Students planning to take both semesters of economic principles are advised to take ECON 201 first, though this is not required. The department recommends ECON 201 to students intending to take only one semester of principles.

ECON 202 - (3) (S)
Principles of Economics: Macroeconomics
Studies the determinants of aggregate economic activity, the effects of monetary and fiscal policy upon national income, and economic policy toward unemployment and inflation. A full introduction to economic principles warrants completion of both ECON 201 and 202. Students planning to take both semesters of economic principles are advised to take ECON 201 first, though this is not required. The department recommends ECON 201 to students intending to take only one semester of principles.

ECON 206 - (3) (Y)
American Economic History
Surveys American economic history from colonial origins to the present. Cross-listed as HIUS 206.

ECON 301 - (4) (S)
Intermediate Microeconomics
Prerequisite: ECON 201 and one semester of calculus.
Studies the theory of prices and markets; includes an analysis of the forces determining the allocation of economic resources in a market economy.

ECON 302 - (3) (S)
Intermediate Macroeconomics
Prerequisite: ECON 202 and 301 or 311, or instructor permission.
Studies macroeconomic theory and policy; includes an analysis of the forces determining employment, income, and the price level.

ECON 303 - (3) (S)
Money and Banking
Prerequisite: ECON 202.
Analyzes monetary standards, the role of money in an economic system, and the operation and evolution of central banking systems.

ECON 304 - (3) (IR)
The Economics of Education
Prerequisite: ECON 201.
Analyzes the demand for, and supply of, education in the United States, governmental policies regarding education, and proposed reforms.

ECON 305 - (3) (Y)
The Economics of Welfare Reform
Prerequisite: ECON 201.
Critical evaluation of the arguments used to justify welfare programs such as AFDC, Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing. Includes theoretical analyses and empirical evidence on the intended and unintended effects of these programs, and discusses reforms of the welfare system that might lead to better achieving its goals.

ECON 307 - (3) (S)
Economics and Gender
Prerequisite: ECON 201 or instructor permission.
This course examines gender differences in the economy, decision-making and the division of labor within the family, and public policies that affect the status of women.

ECON 309 - (3) (Y)
Latin American Economic Issues
Prerequisite: ECON 201, 202.
Analyzes issues in the economic development of the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America and Brazil, including traditional primary product dependence, the post World War II push for industrialization via import substitution, chronic and hyperinflation, foreign capital flows and debt, and recent market reforms and their effects on growth and poverty.

ECON 311 - (4) (Y)
Mathematical Microeconomics
Prerequisite: ECON 201 and two semesters of calculus.
Covers the same topics as ECON 301 using differential calculus through constrained maximization of functions of several variables. Credit is not given for both ECON 301 and 311.

ECON 331 - (3) (S)
Economics and Elections
Prerequisite: ECON 202 or instructor permission.
Studies interactions between economic conditions and elections. Emphasizes economic policy making, political business cycles, and the impact of economic conditions on voter participation, vote choice, and election outcomes.

ECON 333 - (3) (IR)
Public Choice
Prerequisite: ECON 201.
Studies politics using economic analysis. Topics include the theory of voting rules, regulation, taxation, and interest groups; the growth of government; and the design of constitutions.

ECON 355 - (3) (Y)
Economy of China
Prerequisite: ECON 201.
The course reviews China’s economic growth since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and in particular since the move toward the use of market mechanisms in 1978. The theme of the course is that for China, changing economic institutions partly explain growth performance in these years.

ECON 356 - (3) (Y)
Economy of Japan
Prerequisite: ECON 201 or permission of instructor.
This course reviews Japan’s economic development from the Tokugawa Era onward, and then explores different sectors and issues of the modern Japanese economy.

ECON 371 - (4) (S)
Introduction to Statistical Analysis
Prerequisite: MATH 121 or equivalent.
Introduction to the probability and statistical theory underlying the estimation of parameters and testing of hypotheses in economics. Simple and multiple regression analysis. Students will use computers to analyze economic data. Three hours of lecture, one hour of discussion (Credit is not given for both ECON 371 and STAT 212).

ECON 372 - (3) (S)
Introductory Econometrics
Prerequisite: ECON 201, 202, and 371 (or equivalent) and one semester of calculus.
Studies the application of statistical methods to the testing and estimation of economic relationships. Emphasizes applied econometric studies and the problems that arise when analyzing time series and cross section data by means of stochastic linear models.

ECON 401 - (3) (Y)
Game Theory
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, and ECON 371 or equivalent.
Analyzes the theory of strategically interdependent decision making, with applications to auctions, bargaining, oligopoly, signaling, and strategic voting.

ECON 408 - (3) (Y)
Law and Economics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or instructor permission.
Applies microeconomic theory to the analysis of legal rules and institutions. Includes the effect of economic forces on the development of law, and the effect of laws on the allocation of resources.

ECON 409 - (3) (Y)
Mathematical Economics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311; MATH 121 and 122 or equivalent.
Introduction to the basic mathematical techniques used by professional economists and other quantitative social scientists: equations, derivatives, comparative statics analysis of equilibrium models, optimization, constrained optimization, integration and dynamic models, difference and differential equation models, and inequality constraints in linear and nonlinear optimization problems. The purpose of the course is to prepare students for graduate work in economics and in the more quantitative MBA program.

ECON 410 - (3) (Y)
Managerial Economics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311 and a course in statistics.
Applies economic analysis to management problems in business and government. Emphasizes solving problems through marginal analysis, decision making under uncertainty, determining and using the value of information, searching and bidding, bargaining and negotiation, and analysis of transaction costs. Examines methods of capital budgeting, linear programming, game theory, and forecasting. Considers strategic decisions in markets.

ECON 411 - (3) (Y)
Topics in Advanced Microeconomics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311; a course in probability or statistics; and instructor permission.
Studies the applications of, and further topics, in microeconomic theory. Required for Distinguished Majors but open to any successful advanced student in economics. Topics vary from year to year but may include applications of decision-making to insurance, portfolio choice, and saving by households; applications of game theory to bargaining, contracts, and oligopoly; the economics of information; and welfare economics and applications to public policy.

ECON 412 - (3) (Y)
Evolution of Economic Thought
Prerequisite: ECON 201, 202.
Studies the history of the development of economics as a systematic body of thought. Focuses on the period 1750-1900, with readings from leading economists of the time.

ECON 413 - (3) (IR)
Topics in the History of Economic Thought
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, and 302, or instructor permission.
Studies the development of modern economic thought. Topics may change from year to year but will usually relate to the post-1870 period (i.e., the marginalist or Keynesian revolutions).

ECON 415 - (3) (Y)
Economics of Labor
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, and 371 or its equivalent, or instructor permission.
Analyzes employment and wages, including the economics of education, unemployment, labor unions, discrimination and income inequality.

ECON 416 - (3) (Y)
Economics of Health
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or ECON 311.
Uses microeconomic theory to examine the demand for health services and medical care, the market for medical insurance, the behavior of physicians and hospitals, issues pertaining to malpractice, and government policy.

ECON 418 - (3) (IR)
Economics of Regulation
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311.
Analyzes the methods and institutions of industry regulation. Examines electricity, natural gas, transportation, and television. Considers regulation that involves many industries, such as product safety, occupational safety, and environmental protection.

ECON 419 - (3) (S)
Industrial Organization
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311.
Studies market structure, firm strategy, and market performance. Topics include strategic interactions among firms, as well as business practices such as mergers and acquisitions, price discrimination, advertising, product selection, innovation, vertical restraints, cartels, and exclusionary conduct.

ECON 420 - (3) (Y)
Antitrust Policy
Prerequisite: ECON 201.
Studies government regulation and control of business through public policies designed to promote workable competition.

ECON 421 - (3) (Y)
International Trade: Theory and Policy
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311.
Studies the nature and determinants of international trade and factor movements; the effects of international trade on prices of goods and factors; the consequences of tariffs, quotas, customs unions, and other trade policies and agreements, national or international; and international trade and the balance of payments.

ECON 422 - (3) (Y)
International Finance and Macroeconomics
Prerequisite: ECON 302.
Studies fixed and floating exchange rate systems. Topics include determinants of a nation’s balance of international payments; macroeconomic interdependence of nations under various exchange-rate regimes and its implications for domestic stabilization policies; and the international coordination of monetary and stabilization policies.

ECON 423 - (3) (Y)
Seminar on Trade and Development
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or ECON 311, and either ECON 421 or ECON 451
The course examines various topics related to either international trade, Third World development, or interactions between the two. Examples include the effects of NAFTA, the WTO, multinational firms, child labor, rich country protectionism against Third World imports, volatile primary commodity markets, and how trade liberalization affects workers in rich and poor countries. The course will be structured on student presentations and directed research projects.

ECON 431 - (3) (S)
Economics of the Public Sector
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311.
Explores the justifications for government activities; includes principles of policy analysis, analyses of major expenditure programs and taxes, and the economic theories of political activities.

ECON 433 - (3) (Y)
Economics of Taxation
Prerequisite: ECON 301.
The course introduces the basic principles of taxation from an economic rather than an accounting perspective. The themes of the course are the incidence and efficiency of taxes–who ends up paying a tax and how people change their behavior to avoid a tax. The course will focus directly on the U.S. tax system and how it treats income from work, saving, and production.

ECON 434 - (3) (Y)
The Theory of Financial Markets
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, 303, and 371 or its equivalent.
Studies the theory and operation of financial markets and the role of financial assets and institutions in the economic decisions of individuals, firms, and governments.

ECON 435 - (3) (Y)
Corporate Finance
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, 303, and 371 or its equivalent.
Analyzes the theory of financing corporate operations and corporate decisions regarding the allocation of capital among alternative projects; includes the nature of financial instruments and the behavior of capital markets.

ECON 436 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Quantitative Finance
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, ECON 303, 371 or its equivalent, MATH 310 (or APMA 310) and instructor permission.
Advanced survey of selected topics in financial economics drawn from portfolio theory, the pricing of primary and derivative financial assets, and corporate finance. Emphasizes the development, empirical testing, and application of behavioral and predictive models.

ECON 439 — (3) (Y)
Economics of Advertising
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, ECON 371 or equivalent, calculus.
The course examines the economic theory of advertising. In particular, it explores why and what firms advertise as well as market failure in the transmission of information or in "persuading" potential customers. The course also considers the bundling of entertainment with advertising in assessing the performance of media industries.

ECON 440 - (3) (Y)
Topics in Economic History
Prerequisite: ECON 302, or ECON 201 and 202 and instructor permission.
Comparative study of the historical development of selected advanced economies (e.g., the United States, England, Japan, continental Europe). The nations covered vary with instructor.

ECON 441 - (3) (Y)
Economics of the European Union
Prerequisite: ECON 302.
Studies the history, theory, and empirics of European economic integration. Focuses on monetary union, as well as product and factor market integration.

ECON 442 - (3) (IR)
Macroeconomic Policy
Prerequisite: ECON 302.
Integrated analysis of public policies (including: monetary, fiscal, debt-management, foreign exchange, and incomes) designed to cope with fluctuations in national income, employment, and the price level, and to influence the rate of economic growth. Emphasizes policies adopted during specific historical episodes and the theory of macroeconomic policy.

ECON 443 - (3) (IR)
Environmental Economics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311.
Economic analysis of public policy issues in the provision of environmental quality and the use of natural resources. Explores market failure as a justification for environmental regulation, and the efficacy of specific forms of regulation, including mandated technologies, taxes, subsidies, and pollution permit trading programs. Topics include air and water pollution, climate change, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, population, and sustainable development.

ECON 451 - (3) (Y)
Economic Development
Prerequisite: ECON 202 and 301 or instructor permission.
Studies the peculiar problems of economic growth in underdeveloped countries. Emphasizes public policies for both the countries themselves and the more developed countries and international agencies.

ECON 471 - (3) (Y)
Economic Forecasting
Prerequisite: ECON 371 or MATH 312 or APMA 312.
Analyzes the theory and practice of forecasting economic variables using models for linear stochastic processes, including specifying, estimating, and diagnosing models of economic time series.

ECON 482 - (3) (Y)
Experimental Economics
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311; a course in statistics; or instructor permission.
Explores the use of laboratory methods to study economic behavior. Topics include experimental design, laboratory technique, financial incentives, and analysis of data. Emphasizes applications: bargaining, auctions, market price competition, market failures, voting, contributions to public goods, lottery choice decisions, and the design of electronic markets for financial assets.

ECON 488 — (3) (Y)
Seminar in Policy Analysis
Prerequisite: ECON 301 or 311, 372, and 431.
Introduces the methods used to estimate the effects of existing and proposed government programs. Methods will be illustrated with applications to several areas of government policy. Students will complete an empirical policy analysis under faculty supervision.

ECON 489 - (1-3) (Y)
Majors Seminar
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Reading, discussion, and research in selected topics. Topics vary by instructor and course may be taken for credit more than once.

ECON 495, 496 - (1-3) (S)
Supervised Research
Prerequisite: GPA of 3.300 in UVa ECON courses.
Research under the direction of a regular faculty member.

ECON 507 - (3) (IR)
British Economic History Since 1850
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Studies the structure, performance, and policy of the British economy since 1850, focusing on the causes and consequences of Britain’s relative economic decline.

ECON 509 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Mathematical Economics I
Prerequisite: One semester of calculus and instructor permission.
Studies topics in univariate and multivariate calculus and linear algebra, and applications to the theories of economic statics.

ECON 510 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Mathematical Economics II
Prerequisite: ECON 509 or instructor permission.
Studies topics in the theories of difference and differential equations and dynamic optimization, and applications to the theories of economic dynamics.

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