Econ 103 Syllabus


Office: Carow Hall, 10B


TA: Stuart Paul, Email:


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: 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 $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.  

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 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 at Amazon or the GMU bookstore. We are using the 4th edition but the 3rd will also cover most of the same material.


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


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.


Economics Support

The economics department offers regular economics tutoring. I will email you the hours. In addition, there is a TA for the course, Stuart Paul, who is available to answer questions.


You can also email me with questions as well as arrange to come to my office in real life!



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 one week ahead if you choose. 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


Jan. 19

Jan. 26 preferable but up to Jan. 30

Chapter 3: Supply and Demand

Jan. 27

Feb. 2

Chapter 4: Equilibrium

Feb. 3

Feb. 9

Chapter 5: Elasticity

Feb. 10

Feb. 16

Chapter 6: Taxes and Subsidies

Feb. 17

Feb. 23

Chapter 7: The Price System

Feb. 24

Mar. 1

Chapter 8: Price Floors and Ceilings

Mar. 2


Chapter 2: Comparative Advantage, Chapter 9: International Trade

Mar. 9

Mar. 22 (extra days for fall break)

Chapter 10: Externalities

Mar. 17

Mar. 19

Midterm—must be completed by Mar. 19

Mar. 23

Mar. 29

Chapter 11: Costs and Profit Maximization,

Chapter 12 Competition and the Invisible Hand

Mar. 30

April 5

Chapter 13: Monopoly

April 6

April 12

Chapter 14: Price Discrimination

April 13

April 19

Chapter 18: Labor Markets

April 20

April 26

Chapter 19: Public Goods and Tragedy of the Commons

April 27

May. 3

Chapter 24: Asymmetric Information

Chapter 23: Stock Markets and Personal Finance

May. 8

May. 10

Final Exam—must be completed by May 10.



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