Firms and Markets

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Sutton


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Economics and Management. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

A graduate course in microeconomic analysis, geared towards those parts of the subject that are of primary importance in the Management area. The first section focuses on competition between firms, using standard game theoretic models. This leads to a general treatment of market competition by reference to the concept of firms' capabilities. The next section traces the basis of firms' capabilities to the set of elements of know-how possessed by the individuals comprising the firm, and by the mode of internal organization of those individuals. The analysis draws on the several strands in the modern literature on the theory of the firm. The final section of the course deals with the link between strategy and structure, and with the formulation of strategies in environments characterized by complexity and uncertainty.

The course syllabus covers Walrasian Equilibrium: Supply and Demand. Beyond the Walrasian model: Nash Equilibrium. Applications of Nash Equilibrium: options and bargaining. General approaches to the analysis of competition in oligopolistic markets. Applications in Industrial Organisations. The concept of capabilities. The roots of firms' capabilities : individuals and their collective know-how. The internal organization of firms. Contract theoretic approaches to the theory of the firm. The Chandlerian nexus: from strategy to structure.


20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

A weekly seminar devoted to problem sets. A weekly seminar devoted to case studies.

Indicative reading

Milgrom and Roberts, Economics, Organization and Management; Sutton, Sunk Costs and Market Structure


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 31

Average class size 2020/21: 12

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness