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. 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 week there is homework 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. There will also be opportunities to ask questions of the instructors and TAs.

Needed: 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 $97.99. The Sapling Plus system has access to the e-book but we recommend that you purchase a package of Sapling Plus and 4 month rental of the textbook, Modern Principles: Microeconomics (Cowen/Tabarrok) paperback.  

ISBN 9781319198374


You can get the package at the textbook store.


It is also available here.


Look under the Rent tab.


The package is $109.99, only slightly more expensive than the Sapling Plus system alone and we think that it is worthwhile to have a paperback copy of the textbook that you can easily read. Of course, you can also buy the textbook. We are using the 4th edition but the 3rd will also cover most of the same material.


The videos are also available at


and on YouTube which is useful for watching on full screen or on smart phones. Note once again, however, that you must purchase Sapling Plus to do homework, tests and to get a grade.



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







Class Structure and Due Dates

It is very important that you submit your homework and tests BEFORE the due date. 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 one week ahead if you choose. Thus, you have flexibility to get things done.


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


Week of

Last day to complete


Jan. 21

Jan. 27

Chapter 3: Supply and Demand

Jan. 28

Feb. 3

Chapter 4: Equilibrium

Feb. 4

Feb. 10

Chapter 5: Elasticity

Feb. 11

Feb. 17

Chapter 6: Taxes and Subsidies

Feb. 18

Feb. 24

Chapter 7: The Price System

Feb. 25

Mar. 3

Chapter 8: Price Floors and Ceilings

March 4

Mar. 10

Chapter 2: Comparative Advantage, Chapter 9: International Trade

March 11


Spring Break

March. 18

Mar. 24

Chapter 10: Externalities

March 25

March 29

Midterm—must be completed by March 29

March. 25

Mar. 31

Chapter 11: Costs and Profit Maximization,

Chapter 12 Competition and the Invisible Hand

April 1

April 7

Chapter 13: Monopoly

April 8

April 14

Chapter 14: Price Discrimination

April 15

April 21

Chapter 18: Labor Markets

April 22

April 28

Chapter 19: Public Goods and Tragedy of the Commons

April 29

May 5

Chapter 24: Asymmetric Information

Chapter 23: Stock Markets and Personal Finance

May 10

May 12

Final Exam

Monday May 6


Bonus Chapter 22: Managing Incentives



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