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Course Selection Guide for Economic Students

Students who intend to major in Economics should include 41-110 and 41-111 in the first year, since these are prerequisites for all other Economics courses.

In selecting other first-year courses, students have a great deal of flexibility. However, in selecting courses you should make sure they are consistent with the requirements of the program in which you are registered. In selecting courses, students in the General program should also consider the requirements of the Honours programs since, after the second year, students frequently decide that they would like to pursue an Honours degree. If you initially select courses without concern for the Honours requirements, switching in later years may lengthen the time required to complete the program.

For the General program, the most appropriate options would be Math (see note below), Political Science, Business Administration, Psychology and other Social Sciences, English (expository writing) and Languages.

In the Honours programs, some of the non-economic courses are specified. The remaining options would also most appropriately fall in the areas previously mentioned, subject to your personal interests.

Economics 41-221, 41-222, 41-231, 41-232, 41-211 and 41-212 should be taken in the second year. You should not delay taking these until Summer or Intersession, since there is no guarantee they will be offered. Also, all third-year courses are not offered in each semester (or year) so do not delay taking a course you may want or need.

Statistics Requirement

In both the General and Honours programs, statistics is required. Normally this would be 41-211 and 41-212. However, it might be advantageous for someone with a good math background to substitute the appropriate statistics courses offered by the Mathematics Department (65-250 and 65-251). The use of any other statistics courses requires the approval of the Department of Economics. If such approval is given, then two additional Economics courses at the 300 or 400 level would be required.


In the first and second year economic courses, some elementary algebra is required. In this case, the mathematics provides additional structure that is difficult to convey in a picture. For example, an exact specification of a demand curve reveals more than simply the fact that demand curves slope downward. An exact specification of an aggregate consumption function means that we can predict that an increase in government spending will increase GNP by exactly $X.

In some instances, calculus may be used to explain other ways of looking at problems.

In more advanced courses, specific tools may be used because it is assumed you have learned the basic principles in your first and second year courses. In this case, the mathematics incorporates these basic principles on the way to solving more difficult problems. In our experiences, mathematical tools of some type are required to study the problems of behaviour under uncertainty, or dynamic problems. As well, econometrics or statistics courses implement or test the economic theories learned in other courses.

Which Math Course To Take?

The math course that you take will obviously be influenced by your program and your goals.

Those considering the possibility of doing graduate work should take as much math as possible.

The Department recommends that you take 62-140, 62-141 and 62-120. A student could get through the General program without these, but it would limit the alternatives. In the Honours programs that require 41-323 or 41-333, 62-140 and 62-141 are required.

Students interested in additional math courses should consult with a faculty member about which courses are best suited to meet your objectives.

For Those Already In Program

As mentioned above, although it is more important to learn the economic concepts than the mathematical tools used to solve problems, you may find that your knowledge in math is rusty. If you want to refresh your knowledge, there are a number of standard references that can be used for independent study. The most popular is:

A.C. Chiang, Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics, McGraw Hill Publishers, any edition.

As well, your course instructor is also willing to help you recognize how to apply mathematical tools to the economic problem being discussed.

For any changes in course offerings or other Departmental changes, students should check Departmental Bulletin Boards. Please check with Departmental Counsellors for clarification of your program requirements.


Vladimir Bajic (Office CHN 1161; phone x2388)