UCL Department of Economics


Environmental Economics - ECON0052

ECON0052 > undergraduate module > 2019/20.

Taught by: Frank Witte.
Intended teaching term: Term 2.
Credits: 15 (FHEQ Level 6).

Syllabus: Environmental Econ.
Year: 2/3.




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UCL Module Catalogue: environmental-economics/ECON0052.


  • Familiarise you, quantitatively and qualitatively, with important issues in environmental economics and environmental policy making such as anthropogenic global warming, the sustainable use of resources such as fish and forests and environmental pollution.
  • Give you hands-on experience in how to model complex economic + environmental systems;
  • Help you understand the basic natural processes affecting the environment;
  • Introduce to you the main tools and challenges involved in environmental valuation;
  • Show you ways to determine the efficient level of pollution and discuss the instruments available to policy makers to reach such targets;
  • Engage you in the discussion about the role externalities and public goods play for environmental policy making;
  • Show you ways to determine the optimal use of renewable and non-renewable resources that includes intertemporal optimisation of utility.


By completing and passing this module, you will have achieved several outcomes such as:

  • get hands-­‐on experience in working with pre-­‐formulated models and nterpret simulation results;
  • gain experience in formulating basic models of the environment;
  • be able to report on results from model simulations;
  • be able to formulate soundly argued environmental policy advice;
  • be able to discuss existing policy proposals on the basis of economic and natural processes;
  • be able to use different methods of valuation and make an informed choice about their applicability;
  • be able to compare different instruments to achieve pollution targets;
  • use your knowledge of natural science to discuss the effects of pollution as well as the related environmental and economic policies;
  • perform optimisation exercises in the presence of external effects;
  • be able to derive and predict the efficient use of natural resources.

Suitable for

  • 2nd and final year students from Economics (L100/L101/L102).
  • Econ/Stats (LG13);
  • Econ/Geog (LL17);
  • Phil/Econ (VL51);
  • and BASc -­ Science Pathway (Y000/Y001) students.

Students with backgrounds different from the above should contact the course tutor to discuss suitability.


ECON0010 or an equivalent 30 credits in year 1 (applied) Mathematics is required. ECON0002 or an equivalent 30 credits in Economics is also required. Some experience with Mathematica/Matlab such as acquired through ECON-skills lab (Year-1 and Year-2) or alternatively via ECON0114 Computational Methods for Economists is highly recommended but not required.

Assumed knowledge

The prerequisites cover a good familiarity with the key results from linear algebra and the calculus of several variables, in particular in optimization, and some elementary familiarity with ordinary, linear, differential equations and their solutions. A general familiarity with Economics at the level of the ECON0002 of an equivalent 30 credits in Economics, both the micro- as well as the macro-aspects, is also strictly required. An aptitude for computational and simulation work is highly recommended, as acquired through ECON0114 and/or the Economics Skills Lab.

Teaching and assessment

The module is taught through 10 weekly 2-­hour lectures and 10 weekly 2­‐hour computer lab sessions. Lectures mainly introduce new course-­material while lab sessions give students hands-­‐on experience in economic modeling using software such as Mathematica and Excel.

This module is assessed by a 2-hour unseen written exam in Term 3. To be eligible for the final exam, students are required to participate in and prepare for lab sessions and hand in several pieces of coursework.