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Microeconomics Principles

Why is Coursera offering this course free of charge? Why is the divorce rate so high? Why do we have so much pollution? Would legalizing marijuana lead to a reduction in crime? Why is a college education a smart investment, or is it? Why would a draft only damage the army? In the last 50 years economists have tackled some of the most interesting and important questions for humanity!


Eligible for

Course Certificate

Course at a Glance

About the Course

This course offers an introduction to the functions of individual decision-makers—both consumers and producers—within the larger economic system. Emphasis is on the nature and functions of product markets, the theory of the firm under varying conditions of competition and monopoly, and the role of government in promoting efficiency in the economy.

Most people make the incorrect assumption that economics is ONLY the study of money. My primary goal in this course is to shatter this belief. During this course, we will be addressing the above questions as well as many more relating to:

  • the environment
  • love and marriage
  • crime
  • labor markets
  • education
  • politics
  • sports
  • business

My main goal is to show you the way economists think and how to use this analytical system to answer questions related not only to these and other important human issues, but to anything you end up doing with your life after this class. After all, as you will quickly find out, I believe that everything is economics!

Course Syllabus

This course will be broken up into 8 modules covering the following topics:

Module 1: Basic Concepts, Modeling, and Trade

Module 2: Supply and Demand

Module 3: Market Efficiency and Government Intervention

Module 4: Elasticity and Taxes

Module 5: Production and Costs

Module 6: Competitive Output

Module 7: Firms With Market Power

Module 8: Public Goods, Common Resources, and Externalities


Recommended Background

None—all are welcome!

Suggested Readings

Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we recommend (but do not require) that you refer to the text: Krugman, Paul R., and Robin Wells. Microeconomics. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, 2012.

There are 2 ways of purchasing the optional text:

Course Format

In addition to watching multiple 5–15 minute long video lectures each week, you can participate in the following activities:

  • 1 for-credit quiz per module
  • practice quizzes
  • discussion activities


What resources will I need for this class?

Got an up-to-date browser and a decent Internet connection? You’re good to go!

What is the difference between the 4-week and 8-week format of this course?

When taking this course in the 4-week format, the same materials listed above are covered in half the time. Materials are not cut to make the 4-week course. This intense format requires more time per week on your part to complete; the estimated workload listed above would be double for the 4-week course.

See what others have to say about this course!

"I am SO glad to have taken it! Economics is a lot different and much broader than I ever imagined." -D.M.
"The fundamentals were explained really well, in a way that made them easy to relate to everyday things." -H.C.
"The concrete examples from different industries, a smattering of historical backgrounds, interviews and yes, games, were very helpful to me and, I'm sure, to other students, in understanding the concepts." -J.S.

Illinois is a world leader in research, teaching, and public engagement, distinguished by the breadth of our programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty.

Join the Illinois community for Microeconomics Principles:

Note: This course will be part of a study about learning in education. As part of this study, we will use student records, such as quiz scores, videos watched, etc. By participating in the course, you also agree to participate in the study. If you have any questions about your rights as a participant in this study or any concerns or complaints, please contact the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board at 217-333-2670 (collect calls will be accepted if you identify yourself as a research participant) or via email at

Image sources: Flickr / davitydave, Flickr / Ken Teegardin, and Flickr / Phillip Ingham