Economics for a Sustainable World

Module description

This module is an introduction to theories in concepts in economics that underpin much of the world of modern business. It will help you to understand how businesses and economies work, and why. Economics concepts and thinking lie at the heart of how markets work, how and why businesses function and how and why people behave. Understanding economics is essential to more detailed understanding of business.

Full module specification

Module title:Economics for a Sustainable World
Module code:MBAM829
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Mr Morgan Witzel - Lecturer
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:

4 days (+ 6 weeks study)

Module aims

The aims of this module are to allow you to develop an understanding of the relevance of economics to managers in business, and to introduce key issues in the economics of a sustainable world: for example, the economics of climate change, biodiversity, and extending notions of national income to include natural resources. The first part of the module will focus on microeconomics content and will concentrate on understanding markets: the way that they work, and the ways in which they fail. The second part of the module will explore macroeconomics: what GDP, growth, inflation and value-added mean; sustainability issues around imports/exports; why countries trade; the concept of comparative advantage and the effects of globalisation. It will also look at more recent developments to extend measures of national income; and look at the differences between physical and economic scarcity of natural resources, and constraints on growth.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Explain the role of economics in managerial decision-making.
  • 2. Explain and evaluate how markets work.
  • 3. Evaluate the factors affecting the macroeconomic environment, and international markets.
  • 4. Show how economics can be used to better understand the social and environmental changes that face companies and societies.
  • 5. Look at what might be waiting around the corner.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Think analytically.
  • 7. Interpret economic data.
  • 8. Critically reflect on common assumptions held within the business community.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Demonstrate the capacity for analytical and reasoned discussion.
  • 10. Demonstrate effective independent study skills.
  • 11. Demonstrate effective written communication skills.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours28Lectures

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class discussionOngoing during the module9, 10, 11Out of clas personal meetings

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay (Individual)1003000 words1 -11Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay (Individual)New essay (100%)1-116 weeks after briefing

Syllabus plan

Economics: what you need to know and what you don’t; the development of economics; supply and demand; costs and benefits; rational choice theory; behavioural economics; economic theories of the firm; the working of markets; the economics of decision making; cycle theory and its consequences; international economics; globalisation and global risk; global environmental issues in an economics context; recourse scarcity; oil and water; inequality and the bottom of the pyramid; using economics for practical problem solving; eco-systems services; future trends in economics

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

There is no textbook that covers all the material in the module. An excellent book showing how economics can be used to make business decisions is:

Froeb, L.M. and B. T. McCann (2010), Managerial Economics: A Problem-Solving Approach, 2nd Ed., South-Western Cengage Learning.

The relationship between economics and sustainability is covered by:

Peter M. Senge et al. (2008) The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, London: Nicholas Brealey.


Thought-provoking books and articles in preparation for the module are:

Solow, R.M. (1992) “Sustainability: An Economist’s Perspective.” ?National Geographic Research and Exploration Vol. 8:10-21.

Porter, M. & van der Linde, C. (1995) “Toward a New Conception of ?the Environment-Competitiveness Relationship.” Journal of Economic ?Perspectives Vol. 9(4):97-118.

Arrow, K.J., P. Dasgupta, L. Goulder, G. Daily, P.R. Ehrlich, G.M. Heal, S. Levin, K.-G. Mäler, S. Schneider, D.A. Starrett, and B. Walker (2004): "Are We Consuming Too Much?", Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1), 147-172.

Arrow, Kenneth J., Partha Dasgupta, Lawrence H Goulder, Kevin Mumford, and Kirsten Oleson, (2010): “Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth” 15 October 2010. Available at

Beinhocker, Eric D. (2005): The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics, New York: Random House.

Economist, The: “Rescuing environmentalism”, Apr 21st 2005.  Available at

Laudicina, Paul A. (2005): World Out of Balance, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mankiw, N. Gregory and Mark P. Taylor (2006): Economics, Thomson Learning  ISBN-10: 1844801330.

Mackenzie, Richard B. and Dwight R. Lee (2006): Microeconomics for MBAs – the Economic Way of Thinking for Managers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press  ISBN: 9780521859813

Mahajan, Vijay and Kamini Banga (2006): The 86% Solution, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Publishing.

Mahajan, Vijay (2009): Africa Rising, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Wharton School Publishing.

McAfee, R. P. (2005) “The price is right mysterious”, Engineering and Science No. 3.

Miles, David and Andrew Scott (2004): Macroeconomics: Understanding the Wealth of Nations, 2nd ed. (UK) Jon Wiley & Publishers, ISBN-10: 0470868929.

Prahalad, C.K. (2004) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Wharton School.

Sloman, J. and K. Hinde,  (2007): Economics for Business, 4th ed. Harlow, Essex  Prentice Hall,  ISBN 0273709089.

Economist, The: “Rescuing environmentalism”, Apr 21st 2005.  Available at

Metcalf, Gilbert E.: "Market-based Policy Options to Control U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions" Journal of Economic Perspectives 23.2 (2009): 5-27.  Available at:

The Stern Review, available at

Tol, R. S. J. (2009): The Economic Effects of Climate Change, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(2), 29-51.

World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), Our Common Future (New York: Oxford University Press).


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