Econ 103 Syllabus


Office: Carow Hall, 10B


This is entirely an online course taught by Alex Tabarrok (and Tyler Cowen) based on their book Modern Principles of Economics: Microeconomics. This class has been years in the making and was designed to be online from day one. We think this is the best online course in principles of economics ever offered. The course is video based. Every video is followed by questions. Every chapter has questions and a test. Lecture time is less and active learning time is more. Active learning requires more from the student so be prepared—the class will move quickly. The class will move *very* quickly in the summer session.

Needed: This course is NOT ON BLACKBOARD. In order to take this course you must purchase access to the Sapling Plus homework system which gives access to the e-book, practice questions, homework and tests. You can get access for 6 months for $99.99. The Sapling Plus system has access to the e-book. I recommend purchasing a package of Sapling Plus and 4 month rental of the textbook, Modern Principles: Microeconomics (Cowen/Tabarrok) paperback because I think having a paperback to read is also useful but that is your call.

The easiest way to get access to Sapling is here:


Look under the Rent tab for the package and click the title so it opens. The package is $117.99, only slightly more expensive than the Sapling Plus system alone.


When you sign up at Sapling, use the same name as at GMU. If you drop the class make sure you drop at GMU.

I recommend that you sign up for Sapling before the official start day of the class to give you time to deal with any technical issues.

The class is divided in two sections, before and after the midterm. The first section runs from June 1 to June 30. You can work at your own pace but you must complete the first section by June 30. The midterm runs July 1-July 3 and must be completed by July 3. The second section begins June 29 and runs through Aug 5. You must complete all the work in the second section by Aug 5. Final exam which is cumulative is Aug 6-8.

Note you need to be completing a little over 2 chapters a week.


Technical Support

If you have trouble accessing the Sapling Plus system try the usual procedures of using a different browser, updating your browser, clearing the cache etc. If that doesn’t work, contact Sapling Support.


My experience is that support is very good. Note that I can’t help you with technical support! I’d like to but I don’t control the Sapling system. If support needs to contact me, they will.



Every GMU student in this class should monitor their GMU email for periodic announcements.




                At the end of each video, there are homework questions. On these questions, you get unlimited attempts but you lose 5% for each incorrect attempt. For each chapter there is also a Learning Curve. You can answer as many Learning Curve questions as you want to get up to a set number of points. Each section also has an assessment section that is a combination of Ask Fred, Work It Out and News Analysis questions (not every chapter has all categories). You also get multiple attempts at these questions with a 5% penalty for each incorrect attempt. Each chapter concludes with a chapter Test. Finally, there is a Midterm and a Final. Grades will be calculated as follows:



Percentage of Grade

Video Homework


Learning Curve


Ask Fred/Work It Out/News Analysis


Chapter Tests







Your numerical grade will be a good guide to your standing in the class but I reserve the right to adjust (bell) the final grade.


Class Structure and Due Dates

It is very important that you submit your homework and tests BEFORE the due date. All time are EST! If your computer breaks down or if you lose internet access and cannot submit your work you get ZERO—there is no appeal.


You will have plenty of opportunity to get your work done on time. We will work according to the schedule below and you will be able to work ahead within each section. Thus, you have flexibility to get things done. But it is your job to get everything done on time.


One thing to watch out for is that the opening screen gives you due dates but it only shows the first 10 items or so—some weeks it will not show you everything. You need to check Activities and Due Dates to be sure you are covering everything.


Use the Sapling Plus homework system to check for due dates. Approximates dates are as follows.


Week of

Last day to complete


June 1-June 30

Chapter 3: Supply and Demand

Chapter 4: Equilibrium

Chapter 5: Elasticity

Chapter 6: Taxes and Subsidies

Chapter 7: The Price System

Chapter 8: Price Floors and Ceilings

Chapter 2: Comparative Advantage, Chapter 9: International Trade

June 30

Chapter 10: Externalities

June 1-June 3

July 3

Midterm—must be completed by July 3

June 29

Chapter 11: Costs and Profit Maximization,

Chapter 12 Competition and the Invisible Hand

Chapter 13: Monopoly

Chapter 14: Price Discrimination

Chapter 18: Labor Markets

Chapter 19: Public Goods and Tragedy of the Commons

Aug 5

Chapter 24: Asymmetric Information

Chapter 23: Stock Markets and Personal Finance

Aug 6

Aug 8

Final Exam—must be completed by Aug 8.



Honor Code Statement

Disability Statement

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Office of Disability Resources at 703.993.2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office.

Enrollment Statement

Students are responsible for verifying their enrollment in this class.
Schedule adjustments should be made by the deadlines published in the Schedule of Classes. (Deadlines each semester are published in the Schedule of Classes available from the Registrar's Website