UCL Department of Economics


ECON7011: Economics of Science

Term 1


  • to familiarize you with the way in which science & technology interact with the economy on different scales illustrated by empirical data;
  • to introduce you to the notion of “engineering production functions” and their relation to ordinary production functions and how they are amended by technological progress;
  • to introduce you to analyzing scientific progress and Science through “knowledge engineering relations”;
  • to give you some hands on experience in modeling technological progress in growth models;
  • to give you insight in science & technology funding and the distinct roles played by private investors and governments.
  • to give you a proper grasp of the key international and national institutions facilitating and/or funding scientific research;
  • to help you understand key aspects of scientific thought, the role of uncertainty in Science and the economic aspects of the way Science works;
  • to give you an introductory knowledge of how to model networks and the flow of information or other assets through networks and apply this in the context of the economics of Science and Technology.
  • to give you some insight in the current and past roles of science education for the economy as a whole as well as for the social mobility individual.


After completing this module & passing, you will have achieved a number of quantitative and qualitative outcomes.

Qualitatively you

  • can critically discus the workings of Science and Technology from both a micro as well as a microeconomic perspective
  • can discus scientific production using engineering production functions as a tool;
  • can identify and explain a few examples of past “speculative” episodes in science in terms of the concept of science as a market of ideas;
  • can give a well-informed and critical exposition of the interaction between science, technology and economic growth;
  • have a working knowledge of how in Science careers are made, the role of publications and the incentives structure within which many scientists and engineers operate.

Quantitatively you

  • can use the notion of exogenous technological development in a restricted set of economic growth models;
  • have gained some understanding of models in which technological development and scientific growth are endogenous;
  • can use a restricted set of models to derive implications for science and technology in situations of “green” and/or “sustainable” growth;
  • can model simple networks with nodes and links, flows through and production in these networks, in terms of matrices and vectors;
  • can discus the notion of equilibrium and stability of such networks and their flows;
  • can discus the flow of funding or ideas in such networks in a meaningful way and apply this to the analysis of scientific production;

This module information video is presented by Dr Frank Witte

Taught by:
Frank Witte
Assessment: The course comprises of 20 hours of lectures, 10 hrs of practicals and 10 compulsory tutorial classes with an exercise sheet for each. There will be a 2-hour unseen written examination in Term 3 and an extended essay on a project of your own choice needs to be completed and handed in by the end of term 2 in order to be complete.
Suitable for:
2nd & 3rd year Economics (L100).
Prerequisites: ECON1001: Economics. A background in first year mathematics comparable to ECON1008 Maths is recommendable.
Maximum module enrolments: 25
Module Evaluation (Previous year): 2016/17 evaluation
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