ECON 304 : Firms and Markets

Business and Economics

2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An introduction to Industrial Organisation, the analysis of markets with imperfect competition. Industrial Organisation is concerned with the interdependence of market structure, firm behaviour and market outcome. Basic concepts of game theory will be systematically introduced and applied to study strategic firm behaviour in a variety of general and more industry-specific market settings. In each case, we will analyse the implications of the market behaviour for consumers and society and explore the potential role for public policy with instruments like regulation, competition policy and patent policy.

Course Overview

The goal of this course is to equip students with a basic understanding of the functioning of imperfectly competitive markets, which they will find useful in subsequent employment, postgraduate study, or research. The course aims to combine theory and case studies to enable students to better understand market outcomes in a variety of different industry settings as well as to examine the role of competition law and policy in promoting competitiveness in those markets.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: ECON 201 and 15 points from ENGGEN 150, ENGSCI 111, MATHS 108, 130, 150, 153

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Commerce

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify, describe and analyse modern theories of imperfect competition (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Critically evaluate the interdependence of market structure, firm behaviour and market outcome (Capability 1, 2 and 4.2)
  3. Apply basic game theory tools to analyse market situations (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Critically evaluate and reflect on the market outcome of an industry based on its general characteristics (Capability 1, 4.1 and 4.2)
  5. Articulate and apply basic ideas of competition law and policy (Capability 5.1, 5.2 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Test 40% Individual Test
Presentation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Structured Reflection on Teamwork Dynamics 5% Individual Coursework
Written Report 25% Individual Coursework
Discussions 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Structured Reflection on Teamwork Dynamics
Written Report

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in. 

For this course, each week you can expect:

  • to spend up to 3 hours listening to pre-recorded lectures;
  • to devote 2 hours of independent studying, reading and thinking about topics covered that week;
  • to attend 2 hours of face-to-face sessions (as per timetable), and to actively participate in re-elaborating and discussing topics and material covered in the pre-recorded lectures for that week; 
  • to devote a 1-hour tutorial to practice your problem-solving skills,
  • to put aside approximately/on average 2 hours of work on preparing for the other tasks to complete the succeed in the various assessments throughout the semester (e.g., preparing your oral presentation in a group, self-reflect on your team dynamics, preparing your written report).

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

For 2022 this course has been identified as one only accepting enrolments from "on-campus" students, i.e., not based overseas.

This implies that students are expected to:

  • Attend and actively participate in the the planned weekly sessions to re-elaborate and discuss topics covered in each weekly recordings of lectures (made available ahead of the teaching week starting)
  • Prepare for tutorials possibly by trying out exercises and problem sets beforehand 
  • Take part in the tests planned for this course, namely the  (open book) problem-solving written tests, as well as the live (face-to-face) group presentations of selected case studies (e.g. merger cases)
  • Meet the relevant deadlines and follow instructions provided throughout the semester to successfully complete the various assessments planned for this course

Likewise, students can expect to:

  • Find on Canvas the weekly recordings of lectures, to be reviewed in preparation for the live sessions with face-to-face discussions
  • Find any relevant study material available on Canvas at course commencement and additional material/information will be released progressively throughout the course and as needed
  • Get a chance to practice problem-skills with weekly tutorial sessions
  • Get assistance to best prepare for all other assessment tasks (e.g., drop-in clinics offered before each test, assignment, to give a chance to everyone to ask questions, as well as practise oral and written communication skills)
This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

The Prescribed Textbook for this course is:
  • Contemporary Industrial Organization: A Quantitative Approach, by Lynne Pepall, Daniel Jay Richards, George Norman, 2011 Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN: 978-0-470-59180-2. An e-book version of this title is also available at 
Other Recommended Bibliographic References to consult are:
  • Competition Policy: Theory and Practice, by Massimo Motta, Cambridge University Press 2004. ISBN: 0-512-81663-7.
  • An Introduction to Game Theory, by Martin Osborne, Oxford University Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-512895-6.
Further readings to be given during the semester (journal articles, newspaper articles, etc., related to the topics taught).

There is no coursebook provided for this course. Instead, all lecture slides and tutorial exercises with detailed solutions will be
provided on Canvas before each session. Students are expected to read and review the related material in the prescribed textbook
and any suggested readings.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

We value students' feedback. Timely communication about what students like and would like to see more of, and what they like less and would like to see less of, will make it for a more enjoyable teaching and learning experience, as well as help to improve the design and delivery of future oerings of this course.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.