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Principles of Economics for Scientists

California Institute of Technology via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


The impact of economic forces in our lives is sizable and pervasive. For this reason, it is impossible to understand the social and economic forces shaping our lives without a good understanding of basic economic principles. This course provides a quantitative and model-based introduction to such principles, and teaches how to apply them to make sense of a wide range of real world problems. Examples of applications include predicting the impact of technological changes in market prices, calculating the optimal gasoline tax, and measuring the value of new products.

This is a real Caltech class. It will be taught concurrently to Caltech and on-line students. This has two implications. On the costs side: the class is challenging, highly quantitative, and will demand significant effort. On the benefit side: successful completion of the class will provide you with an in-depth understanding of basic economics, and will permanently change the way you see the world.


Week 1. Principles of optimizing behavior. Week 2. Consumer Theory. Week 3. Producer Theory. Week 4. Outcome of competitive markets.  Week 5. Effects of government intervention in competitive markets: taxes and regulation.  Week 6. Imperfect competition 1: monopolistic markets. Week 7. Imperfect competition 2: oligopoly and monopolistic competition. Week 8. Externalities with and without government intervention. Week 9. Markets with asymmetric information.

Taught by

Antonio Rangel


4.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

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  • School is Broken

    School is Broken completed this course and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    Antonio Rangel definitely teaches one of the most math-heavy introductory economics classes I’ve ever experienced. The lecture material covers the typical first-year microeconomics topics, but Rangel does not shy away from diving into the nitty-gritty calculations and reasoning.

    For me personally, this was one of the more difficult MOOCs I’ve taken to date. Again, this might just be because I have not used calculus in roughly 10 years. I would recommend this class to any math or science major who wants to learn microeconomics. By the end, you will probably have a better understanding of microeconomics than the economics majors around you.
  • Anonymous
    The basic microeconomic course, without much simplification, prof. Rangel explains economic meaning of math used in micoeconomics, gives deep and very helpful examples.

    In short - the best intro course to economics i've seen.

    Might be seen as math-heavy, but there isn't any unnecessary math there.

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