MG409      Half Unit
Auctions and Game Theory

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Richard Steinberg NAB 3.08


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MiM), MBA Exchange, MSc in Applicable Mathematics, MSc in Economics and Management, MSc in Management (1 Year Programme), MSc in Management and Strategy and MSc in Operations Research & Analytics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 45. Students on the waiting list will be selected based on their academic background.


Students should have a course equivalent to the LSE course Quantitative Methods (Mathematics) (MA107), which covers techniques of calculus (differentiation, partial differentiation, optimisation and integration), methods of linear algebra (use of matrices), with emphasis on their application to economic problems. Students should also have some knowledge of probability.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to auctions and game theory. Topics covered are: noncooperative games, cooperative games, social choice, sequential games, auctions, and combinatorial auctions. In addition to the theory, a significant portion of the course will discuss applications.  Specifically, four one-hour lectures each will be devoted to a single real-world application: caller display, competing Internet service providers, public housing space, and spectrum. We will also devote a two-hour lecture session to a Harvard Business School case based on five real-world applications of auctions: publishing, professional sport, on-line auctions, state privatization, and mergers and acquisitions.


16 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

A reading week will take place during Week 6. There will be no teaching during this week.

Formative coursework

Very full lecture notes are provided, and every week a set of problems is given out in the lecture. These are discussed in the following seminars.

Indicative reading

  • Book: P. Cramton, Y. Shoham, and R. Steinberg, eds., Combinatorial Auctions.
  • Book chapter: ‘Auction Pricing’, R. Steinberg, Chapter 27 in O. Ozer and R. Phillips, eds., Oxford Handbook of Pricing Management. 
  • Case study: ‘Auction Vignettes’, Harvard Business School Publishing.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2019/20: 23

Average class size 2019/20: 8

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information