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Game Theory


Admission requirements



Every interaction between two or more individuals can be considered as a game being played. Thus, every one of us is daily involved in mating games, auction games, negotiation games, information games, territorial games, etc.

Game theory is the field of mathematics that models such interactions and aims to predict their outcomes. It is applied in widely different fields, such as economics, politics, finance, sociology, and biology. In recent years game theory has provided significant insights in the dynamics of human-environment interactions, and it continues to deliver valuable contributions to this increasingly important field of study.

In this course we will consider classical simultaneous games, such as the Hawk-Dove game, and the Prisoner's dilemma, dynamical games, where decisions are made sequentially and consequences of choices may vary in time, and probabilistic games, where outcomes depend on chance. We will also consider situations where players lack information about each other’s circumstances or intentions. Furthermore, you will learn how to combine models, to gain insight in complex interactions.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Analyse classical game theoretic models

  • Interpret results from models in their practical context;

  • Develop game theoretic models;

  • Critically evaluate their own models and results;

  • Study and critically evaluate texts on game theory and applications thereof independently;

After successful completion of this course students should know and understand:

  • Basic principles and concepts of game theory, such as Nash equilibrium, subgame perfection, pure and mixed strategies, and information sets

  • The relevance of such concepts in applied contexts such as international conflicts and communal resource exploitation.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Video-lectures, online discussions and assignments, demonstrations of interactive games.

Assessment Method

  • Online quizzes (weeks 1 to 7) 30%

  • Take home assignments (weeks 2 to 7) 35%

  • Individual project (Reading week) 35%

Reading list

Games of Strategy, A. Dixit, S. Skeath, D. McAdams 2020
International student edition (5th edition).
W.W. Norton & Company, New York – London
ISBN (paperback): 978-0-393-42220-7


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, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. P. Haccou,


  • Participants should have a sufficient proficiency and interest in mathematics, and be prepared to amend their mathematics skills if necessary. Students with poor mathematics skills are advised not to choose this course.

  • For GED students it is strongly recommended to take this course either in the same block as or after the course Decision-making Processes.

  • Preparation for the first session: read chapters 1 and 2 of the textbook.