nl en

Environmental Economics



GED, ID, PSc, Ec

Admissions requirements

Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, or Trade & Finance in the Global Economy, or permission from the instructor.


This 300-level course will focus on the environment as a public good and “sink” for the negative externalities created by private goods. We will use a broad definition of “environment” that ranges from land/sea/air pollution to the spaces where we live and work to our mental states and social interactions. We will discuss the three main economic schools of addressing environment problems, i.e., Pigou (taxes), Coase (property rights), and Ostrom (policentric governance).

Students with a pre-requisite in microeconomics will be able to apply and extend their knowledge in this class by assessing the incentives for behaviors and distribution of costs and benefits from policies. Examples include polluter pays, discounting, and mis-matched political-economic jurisdictions. Students with macroeconomic or trade pre-requisites will be able to apply their knowledge to the aggregated dimensions of environmental impacts and how policies alter the market landscape within and among countries. Examples include pollution havens, and intergenerational equity, and environmental Kuznets curve

Themes: Sustainability, public (social) goods vs. private (market) goods, governance,. Externalities, and discount rates.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Be able to explain the benefits and challenges of sustainability from an economic and political perspective.

  • Have a working knowledge of cost-benefit analysis, discount rates, and the impact of distribution on policy design and implementation.

  • Have mastered, presented and written up an environmental case study that explores the drivers, costs, benefits, and barriers to addressing an environmental issue of their choice

  • Have skills in critical assessment of environmental issues, case studies and policy documents.

  • Have experience in applying 200-level methods to their projects: e.g., Quantitative Research Methods, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Modelling, Game Theory and/or Decision Making Processes.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take the lead on individual presentations/take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for its quality. Required reading must be read in advance of class.


Class participation: 10%
Blog post: 10%
Peer reviews: 20% (10% each)
Individual Presentation: 20%
Case study paper: 40%

NB: Plagiarism software will be used to assess written assignments.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Dolan, Edward (2011). There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. London: Searching Finance.
Coase (1960), Hardin (1968), and Dietz et al. (2003)


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


David Zetland (
Leiden University College, Room 4.37
Faculteit Campus Den Haag


Blogs are great for learning about economics. Check out Marginal Revolution or Environmental Economics.