Games and Economic Behaviour

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Ellis 32L 3.15 and Dr Francesco Nava 32L 3.20


This course is available on the BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Mathematics and Economics, BSc in Mathematics with Economics, BSc in Philosophy and Economics and BSc in Social Policy and Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have completed Microeconomic Principles I (EC201) or Microeconomic Principles II (EC202) or equivalent. Fluency in calculus is essential, and some knowledge of analysis, linear algebra and set theory is advantageous. A highly motivated student with a less technical background could enrol on the course, if he or she finds handling economics mathematically comes naturally. Any such student should see Dr Nava or Dr Ellis before the course starts.

Course content

This course reviews fundamental concepts in Economic Theory and presents some of its most successful applications. The first part of the course consists of an introduction to Auction Theory. It presents standard auction formats and discusses strategic behaviour in such environments. Auctions will be analysed both in private and interdependent value environments. Fundamental topics such as the revenue equivalence theorem, the optimal auction design problem and the linkage principle will be covered in detail. Departures from the standard model will be also considered allowing for heterogeneity among players, risk aversion, and budget constraints. The focus of the course is mainly theoretical, but when possible some evidence supporting the formal models will be discussed with references to relevant work in the field. The second part of the course will revise concepts in non-cooperative game theory and will introduce students to game theoretic models of bargaining, voting, and communication. After setting up the primitives of the game theory framework, different solution concepts will be analysed with an emphasis on different applications. In studying models of bargaining, both axiomatic and non-cooperative approaches will be examined, such as Nash's axiomatic approach and the Rubinstein-Stahl model.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

A revision lecture held in week 11 of Michaelmas term.

Formative coursework

Students are urged to attempt the assigned problems before attending classes. At least four pieces of written work will be required.

Indicative reading

M. Osborne, “An Introduction to Game Theory”, Oxford University Press, 2003.

V. Krishna, “Auction Theory”, Academic Press, 2009. 


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2016/17: 9

Average class size 2016/17: 10

Capped 2016/17: No

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills