ECON1401 Economic Perspectives - 2020

Term 3
6 Units of Credit
This course outline is for the current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course will engage you with the founding ideas of economics and their relevance to the social usefulness of modern economic science. You will participate in active reflection and debate about the discipline’s objectives and approaches as they have developed through history and as they relate to other social science and business disciplines. You will learn how modern-day problems are addressed in different subfields of modern economics, how these endeavours relate to the historical development of economics, and where the frontiers of economics as a discipline presently lie.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

ECON1401 is required to be taken by all students in the Bachelor of Economics program, usually late in their first year (ideally) or in the early part of their second year. Students are strongly discouraged from waiting until their final year to take ECON1401. ECON1401 is not a pre-requisite for other courses, but the School of Economics strongly recommends that ECON1401 be taken by students early in their program of study because its content informs the selection of higher-level courses and builds conceptual frameworks into which content from later courses can be placed.

In addition to assuming basic competence in English and mathematics taken from high school, ECON1401 builds on material contained in ECON1101 Microeconomics 1. This pre-requisite will be enforced.

The aims of the course are:

  1. To prepare students to undertake advanced undergraduate study in economics grounded in a broad understanding of the place of the discipline in history and society.
  2. To develop students’ awareness of the breadth, universality, and frontiers of the concerns addressed by economists.
  3. To develop students’ expressive abilities in both spoken and written form.

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Title Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Lecturer-in-chargeProfGigi FosterRoom 453, UNSW Business School9385 7472Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00-9:30 AM in Weeks 1 through 5, or by appointment
LecturerDrNalini PrasadRoom 3117, Quadrangle Building9385 3351Mondays 2:00-3:00 PM in Weeks 7 through 10, or by appointment

Communications with staff

You should feel free to contact your lecturers about any academic or administrative matter during timetabled lecture times or during consultation times. You may also email them (please include "ECON 1401" in the email subject line) or engage on the Moodle forums, which are monitored regularly by teaching staff.

For discussions of material related to each topic, contact your tutor or the corresponding lecturer. Please ask questions about course content in person, or via synchronous or asynchronous online connection. Lecturers and tutors will not provide detailed replies in emails or over the telephone.

Student Enrolment Requests

Students can vary their own enrolment (including switching lecture streams or tutorials) via myUNSW until the end of Week 1. In general, most other student enrolment requests should be directed to The Nucleus: Student Hub (formerly Student Central). These include enrolment in full courses or tutorials, course timetable clashes, waiving prerequisites for any course, transfer-of-credit (international exchange, transfer to UNSW, cross-institutional study, etc.), or any other request which requires a decision about equivalence of courses and late enrolment for any course. Where appropriate, the request will be passed to the School Office for approval before processing. Note that enrolment changes are rarely considered after Week 2 classes have taken place.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The philosophy underpinning this course and its teaching and learning strategies is based on “Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching" at UNSW. Specifically, the lectures, tutorials, and assessment have been designed to appropriately challenge students and support the achievement of the desired learning outcomes. A climate of inquiry and dialogue is encouraged between students and teachers and among students, both in and out of class. The course is designed to to support each student's achievement of the learning outcomes through a combination of face-to-face or online socially-mediated learning, and independent reading, reflection, and assessment work.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies


Lectures in the first half of the course (before Flexibility Week) will focus on concepts pertaining to microeconomics, while those in the second half of the course (after Flexibility Week) will focus on concepts pertaining to macroeconomics. Material in both sections is organised around big ideas in economics: the times and thinkers giving rise to them, modern examples of them, and how they are used today in understanding and approaching socioeconomic problems and disciplinary frontiers. Lectures in both sections will provide guidance in how to think, evaluate arguments and evidence, and produce work in line with the standards of modern economic science.

Both lecturers will use a blend of pre-recorded and synchronous online lecture delivery in the timetabled lecture windows. Pre-recorded lecture material will be available either to stream or to download, according to your preference.

In the first half of the course, portions of recorded lectures from the Term 1 iteration of the course will be assigned for viewing via Moodle. The weekly timetabled lecture windows will be utilised as follows:

  • the first lecture of the term on Monday 14 September will be given synchronously for 1.5 hours;
  • the remaining 1.5-hour timetabled lecture slots that occur twice per week will be broken into half-hour slices, as follows:
      • the first half-hour will be allocated to general student consultations (attendance optional);
      • the second half-hour will be allocated to checking students' comprehension of the readings and the recorded lecture material previously watched, and providing updates to the pre-recorded lecture material (attendance required). Short quizzes will be administered during this period to assess your comprehension of lectures and assigned reading material;
      • the final half-hour will be allocated to questions and answers about the lecture material (attendance optional). Questions about the lecture material that you'd like discussed at the Q&A sessions can be posted in advance to the Moodle discussion forum.
Details about the lecture delivery format for the second half of course will be provided by Week 6.


Tutorials are an integral part of this course, and will be held for 1.5 hours each week except Weeks 4 and 6, starting in Week 1. Some tutorial streams will be held face-to-face on campus, and other tutorial streams will be held online, so you can enrol in a tutorial stream delivered via your preferred modality.

Tutorial discussions and activities will be extremely hands-on, structured on a “flipping the classroom” model and building on material that students have prepared. This makes it essential that you complete all assigned readings and watch all assigned videos for a given week BEFORE attending each tutorial. You should attend tutorials ready to share your course journal in progress, and with easy access to electronic or hardcopy versions of both textbooks and all assigned readings and associated materials for that week. Tutorials in some weeks will include pre-announced debates about policy, for which preparation will be required before class.

5. Course Resources

The primary textbook for this course is:

Heilbroner, Robert (2000). The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Seventh Edition. Pearson.

The secondary textbook is:

Frijters, Paul with Gigi Foster (2013). An Economic Theory of Greed, Love, Groups, and Networks. Cambridge University Press.

You will need regular access to each of these books, as you can see from the assigned readings from them in the course schedule. The UNSW Bookshop and various online booksellers have copies of each of these books, and they are also available through the UNSW Library’s High Use Collection (Heilbroner) and as an e-book through the library portal (Frijters). You should bring any text you choose to buy for this course to your tutorials.

Additional readings and other resources for this course will be provided throughout the term via the course website, which is accessible via UNSW Moodle.

You may also find the following books to be useful in furthering your knowledge of the material in this course:

  • Bowles, Carlin, Stevens (2017) The Economy. Available at:
  • Heilbroner, Robert (1996). Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy. Norton.
  • Dasgupta, Partha (2007). Economics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
  • Hazlitt, Henry. Economics in One Lesson: The shortest and surest way to understand economics. Manor Books

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Feedback is regularly sought from students and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. At the end of this course, you will be asked to complete the myExperience survey, which provides a key source of student evaluative feedback. Your input into this quality enhancement process is extremely valuable in assisting us to meet the needs of our students and provide an effective and enriching learning experience. The results of all surveys are carefully considered and do lead to action towards enhancing educational quality.

​The School of Economics strives to be responsive to student feedback. If you would like more information on how the design of this course and changes made to it over time have taken students’ needs and preferences into account, please contact the Director of Education at the School of Economics.

Past students have told us how much they enjoyed the interactive activities in this course, and how much they value the growth in their understanding of economics as a discipline that the course has brought. In response, we have retained and enhanced interactivity in both lectures and tutorials, and have endeavoured to make the course as thorough as possible in its coverage of the history, nature, and modern applications of economics.

Past students have also asked for more explicit links between lectures, readings, and assessments. In response to that request, the macro half of the course was significantly overhauled in Term 1 2019 to incorporate more references to the thinkers covered in Heilbroner and to the ideas discussed in additional readings.  We have also folded more content into lectures and uploaded more resources to Moodle, beginning in Term 1 2020, that will directly assist you in performing well on your assessment.  These resources include guidance on source selection and analysis, crafting an economic argument, and providing peer feedback.

In Term 1 2019, the first time the course was offered in the trimester system, students told us they felt the course demanded too many independent pieces of assessment. In response, there is now only one Written Assignment, with scaffolding early in the course via an outline on which feedback is provided by teaching staff, whereas there used to be two separate Written Assignments. To help develop your self-evaluation skills and to provide you with more guidance in preparing your assessment, we also adjusted the assessment plan to incorporate more opportunities for formative, early, and peer assessment.

Consent for De-Identified Data to be Used for Secondary Research into Improving Student Experience

To enhance your student experience, researchers at UNSW conduct academic research that involves the use of de-identified student data, such as assessment outcomes, course grades, course engagement and participation, etc. Students of this course are being invited to provide their consent for their de-identified data to be shared with UNSW researchers for research purposes after the course is completed.

Providing consent for your de-identified data to be used in academic research is voluntary and not doing so will not have an impact on your course grades.

Researchers who want to access your de-identified data for future research projects will need to submit individual UNSW Ethics Applications for approval before they can access your data.

A full description of the research activities aims, risks associated with these activities and how your privacy and confidentiality will be protected at all times can be found here.

If you consent to have your de-identified data used for academic research into improving student experience, you do not need to do anything. Your consent will be implied, and your data may be used for research in a format that will not individually identify you after the course is completed.

If you do not consent for this to happen, please email the opt-out form to to opt-out from having your de-identified data used in this manner. If you complete the opt-out form, the information about you that was collected during this course will not be used in academic research.

7. Course Schedule

Note: for more information on the UNSW academic calendar and key dates including study period, exam, supplementary exam and result release, please visit:
Week Activity Topic Assessment/Other
Week 1: 14 SepLectures and tutorials

Introduction: The Role of Economics and Economists

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3

Frijters/Foster pp. 1-37, 41-47

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 2: 21 SepLectures and tutorials

Incentives and Marginal Analysis

5 PM Friday, September 25: Oral Presentation 1 DUE; first Course Journal-in-progress submission DUE.

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 5

Frijters/Foster pp. 48-73

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 3: 28 SepLectures and tutorials

Comparative Advantage, Returns to Scale, Complements and Substitutes, Externalities, and Public Goods

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 6, Ch 7

Frijters/Foster pp. 226-248

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 4: 5 OctLecture

NO LECTURE on Monday (public holiday)

Trade, Institutions, and Behavioural Economics


5 PM Friday, October 9: second Course Journal-in-progress submission DUE.

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 8

Frijters/Foster pp. 86-89, 145-174, 187-192, 197-204, 249-266, 301-302

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 5: 12 OctLecture and tutorials

Trade, Institutions, and Behavioural Economics (continued)

NO LECTURE on Wednesday

Readings and other class preparation (same as for Week 4):

Heilbroner Ch 8

Frijters/Foster pp. 86-89, 145-174, 187-192, 197-204, 249-266, 301-302

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 6 FLEXIBILITY WEEK: 19 OctSelf-study and assignment preparation

Flexibility Week.

Reading break. No lectures, no tutorials.


Catch up on any missed readings and Course Journal writing. Work on Written Assignment and Oral Presentation 2.

5 PM Friday, October 23: Outline of Written Assignment DUE (optional).


Week 7: 26 OctLectures and tutorials

Introduction to Macroeconomics

Data in Macroeconomics and Introduction to Business Cycles


5 PM Friday, October 30: Oral Presentation 2 DUE.

Readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 8: 2 NovLectures and tutorials

Macroeconomic Policy: Fiscal and Monetary Policy

5 PM Friday, November 6: third Course Journal-in-progress submission DUE.

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 9

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 9: 9 NovLecture and tutorials

Money, Banking, Financial Crises and Business Cycles

Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner Ch 10

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week 10: 16 NovLecture and tutorials

Growth: Scarcity, Convergence, and Demographic Transition


Readings and other class preparation:

Heilbroner, “The Gloomy Presentiments of Parson Malthus and David Ricardo,” p. 75-104.

Heilbroner Chapter 11

Additional readings and/or media as noted on Moodle

Week beginning: 23 NovemberAssessment preparation and submission

No lectures, no tutorials

5 PM Friday, 27 November: Written Assignment DUE.

5 PM Friday, 27 November: Final Course Journal DUE.

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

​The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Search Degrees

Find a degree or course