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Principles of Economics


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



Economics is the study of how people interact with each other and with their natural surroundings in providing their livelihoods. In particular, economics focuses on the understanding of how individuals and societies interact and make decisions when producing, trading, and consuming goods and services. In addition, economics pays attention to how regulators set rules for these interactions to take place in particular ways.

The principles of economics are the basic theories and concepts economists employ to explain economic phenomena. In this course, we view the principles of economics not as a unitary explanatory framework, but a set of tools providing the most appropriate available instruments for analysis in each context. The function of these principles is to provide a lens that can help better understand the world and ultimately improve it by means of policy.

Throughout the course, we will discuss real world stylized economic facts and we will critically explore the basic tools economists use to explain them. In doing so, a clear connection will be made between empirical facts and the theoretical tools used to interpret them. We will discuss topics such as economic growth, inequality, consumer and producer behavior, markets and their failures, money, and the financial system. We will also deal with economic policy by paying attention to how governments and regulators use fiscal and monetary policy tools to tackle phenomena such as unemployment, inflation, externalities, debt, and deficits.

Course Objectives

Throughout the course the student will gain thorough acquaintance with the principles of economics. The student will understand the economic motives of consumers and producers, market processes and macroeconomic developments, as well as the interdependencies between economic facts and the main features of public economic policy.

At the end of this course, the student has a solid knowledge of the main principles of economics and can critically describe them. In addition, at the end of the course the student can identify relevant current and historical economic problems, relate them to economic models and concepts, and discuss these problems making use of these models and concepts.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course uses a variety of teaching methods: interactive lecturing, in-class exercises, student presentations, writing of academic blog posts, and participation in discussions based on the blog posts.

Assessment Method

  • Final exam (40%). The final exam will take place in the last week of the course. The questions will be based on the literature and the materials that are discussed in class. Note: A minimum grade of a D on the final exam is required in order to pass the course.

  • Academic Blog Posts (30%). Each student writes two blog posts (according to a schedule designed in week 1) in which he or she relates a real-world event to the concepts and theories discussed in class. Each student is required to respond to the blogposts of others a minimum of 5 times.

  • Presentations (15%). Each student is assigned to prepare one brief oral presentation in pairs. In the presentation, the pair of students explain a topic from the material. The topics will be assigned in week 1. The presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes. During the presentation, the students must relate the course content to at least one real-world event and encourage participation from the audience.

  • Class participation (15%). Every week, students are expected to prepare the reading material and do the exercises in the book. Based on this preparation, students should be able and are expected to participate in class. This means that, during the sessions, students are expected to be ready to discuss the concepts, theories, and the solutions for the study problems. Students are also expected to lively participate in the Brightspace discussion forums. In these forums, students can ask questions by starting a thread and/or engaging in threads initiated by the instructor or by other students.

Reading list

The Core Team (2017), The Economy. Economics for a Changing World. Oxford, Oxford University Press. This book is open source and is available on-line at:

Lecture material and additional material to be posted on Brightspace.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Joop de Kort (convener)

Instructors of individual sections will be listed on the timetable.