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Economics of Natural Resources


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Professor Ron Smith
  • Assessment: coursework of 2500 words (100%)

Module description

This module uses insights from economics to help you gain a deeper understanding of contemporary problems arising from the increasing scarcity of our natural resources. We will analyse the successes and failures of economic theory in helping us make decisions about our relationship to nature. We will examine how the natural environment is affected by the integration of the world economy, with the growth of world trade and capital movements.

We will also look at the various repercussions of the commercial use of nature, including the issues of climate change, environmental degradation and increasing oil consumption. We aim to explain these phenomena and consider how economists address problems arising from scarcity and depletion.

Teaching is through a combination of lectures, seminars and class presentations, either individually or in groups.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Economic theory
  • The power of markets and their participants
  • Valuing the environment
  • The consumer
  • Tourism
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Environmental risk
  • Sustainable development
  • Measuring sustainability
  • Environmental strategy

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the key ideas and conclusions offered by economists in recommending actions that involve the extraction of natural resources
  • better understand the difference between ‘nature’ and 'the market'
  • analyse the nature of ‘market failure’ and the conflict between private and public economic goals
  • appreciate the importance of critical thought
  • apply some basic principles in explaining real-world economic behaviour.