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COURSE NAME: "Intermediate Microeconomics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Francesco Ruscitti
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 3:00-4:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: EC 201, EC 202, MA 198
OFFICE HOURS: Before class and by appointment. To make an appointment, just approach me in class or send me an email ahead of time.

This course delves deeper into the foundations of microeconomic theory, and analyzes the subject from a theoretical rather than practical point of view. Students will become familiar with the tools used by microeconomists in the analysis of consumer and producer behavior. The first part of the course reviews consumer theory and discusses budget constraints, preferences, choice, demand, consumer’s surplus, equilibrium, externalities, and public goods. The second part of the course reviews producer theory: technology, profit maximization, cost minimization, cost curves, firm and industry supply, and monopoly.

Note: Calculus (college-level calculus) and Principles of Microeconomics are both prerequisites for this course. Hence, knowledge of college-level calculus and of basic microeconomics is necessary and will be assumed. It is your responsibility to make sure that you meet the prerequisites for this course. It is important that you be proficient with calculus and basic microeconomics.

Note: This is a preliminary draft of the syllabus. When the semester starts, I will post, and hand out in class, the official version of the syllabus (including all of my policies and the dates of the exams) that will be much more detailed than this draft.

This course covers mainstream Microeconomic Theory at an intermediate level with the aid of analytical tools (algebra, calculus and graphs) and abstract models. Time permitting, we will study the theory of consumer choice, asset markets, choice under uncertainty with applications to portfolio-choice with risky assets, the functioning of markets with incomplete information. Time permitting, we will examine recent developments in economic analysis, such as asymmetric information (and its implications in terms of market outcomes and efficiency), principal-agent models and optimal contracts.


First and foremost, this course aims at fostering students’ ability to think and reason in a rigorous and analytical fashion. The objective is that students learn to apply basic tools of microeconomic analysis in a rigorous fashion.The purpose of this course is to provide a fairly in-depth knowledge of Microeconomics. Students will be exposed to more advanced topics (relative to EC 201), and to the current frontiers of Microeconomics examined at an intermediate level. Note that this course serves as a baseline and building-block for more advanced studies in Economics and in any fields of Social Sciences.

Referring to the learning outcomes (LOS) of the Economics and Finance major (that are posted online), upon successful completion of this course students will:

LOS 1: Build a solid understanding of and knowledge base in microeconomics.

LOS 2: Develop critical-thinking skills and learn to apply microeconomic analysis to understand economic events and everyday problems.

LOS 5: Develop adequate training in mathematical methods to develop problem-solving skills, perform proofs and prepare for further graduate studies in the areas of economics and finance.

LOS 6: Master solid communication skills that enable them to formulate a well-organized argument and communicate effectively in written and graphical form about specific economic and financial issues.




Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Intermediate Microeconomics. A Modern Approach (International student edition, 8th edition)Hal R. VarianWW Norton & CompanyISBN: 978-0-393-93424-3  

Midterm exam 1The exam will be worth 100 points. It will cover all the material taught up until the class before the exam day. Multiple-choice questions and also open-ended questions whereby students are asked to carry out formal analysis and prove formal claims. Regardless of the format, the nature of the questions will be analytical. 18%
Midterm exam 2The exam will be worth 100 points. It will cover all the material taught from Midterm exam 1 onward. Multiple-choice questions and also open-ended questions whereby students are asked to carry out formal analysis and prove formal claims. Regardless of the format, the nature of the questions will be analytical. Students might be required to read a seminal economics paper assigned by the instructor. Therefore, a couple of questions could be about the paper and students should be prepared to write an abstract summarizing the paper's main insights. 34%
Final examThe exam will be worth 100 points. It will be cumulative, that is it will be about all the material covered throughout the course. Multiple-choice questions and also open-ended questions whereby students are asked to carry out formal analysis and prove formal claims. Regardless of the format, the nature of the questions will be analytical. 48%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument, displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates analytical skills, and the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course. 93-100: A 90-92.99: A-
BThis is a competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some analytical skills and ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments. 86-89.99: B+ 83-85.99: B 80-82.99: B-
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings. 75-79.99: C+ 70-74.99: C 65-69.99: C-
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material. Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included. In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail. 60-64.99: D+ 55-59.99: D 50-54.99: D-
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant. Below 50: F

The subject matter is inherently theoretical and fairly abstract. Based on my experience, there is quite big of a difference between Principles of Microeconomics and Intermediate Microeconomics. Also, a sizeable percentage of students taking intermediate micro struggles quite a bit. This course can prove fairly challenging. Trust me on this. If you miss classes, you will get lost and that would undermine your performance. Hence, attendance is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED and very beneficial. If you are not committed to attending all lectures and working hard, I am afraid this is not the right course for you.

EXAMS AND POLICIES ON ABSENCES: At the beginning of the semester, I will post on MyJCU and hand out the official version of the syllabus (very detailed) with the exact exams dates and all of the policies. There are NO make-up for missed exams. If you miss a midterm exam due to a compelling reason (e.g., you are sick), I want you to notify me ahead of time (if possible) and I will surely ask you to provide me with a formal justification for your absence. You have to prove your claim about the cause of your absence. If I deem the justification is formal and merits consideration, then I would let you take a make-up exam.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



(Please note that the list and schedule of the topics covered is tentative and might be subject to change. More details will be provided in class.)




Reading Assignment

Exam dates and topics covered (TBA)





Weeks 1,2, 3, 4, 5

Budget constraint, preferences, utility, choice, demand

Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Lecture notes and PowerPoint slides











Weeks 6 and 7

Asset markets

Chapter 11. Lecture notes and PowerPoint slides










Weeks 8, 9, 10, 11

Uncertainty, Risky assets

Chapters 12, 13. Lecture notes and PowerPoint slides






Weeks 12 and 13

Asymmetric information and adverse selection

Chapter 38. Lecture notes and PowerPoint slides






Week 14

Game theory, Auctions

Chapters 18, 29. PowerPoint slides