Microeconomics is one of the core disciplines in economics - the foundation on which all other disciplines rest. A good grasp of microeconomics is vital for managers who need to understand how particular markets operate, for policy makers concerned with the design and operation of public policy, and for all those who want to appreciate how a modern economy operates.

It begins with a study of the basic decision-makers in the economy: individuals who consume goods, sell labour, invest, and produce goods and services. These individuals' decisions and interactions form the economic structure of our society.

Microeconomics provides a deep understanding of how consumers, firms and markets work together, which allows us to answer such fundamental questions as: How are prices and quantities determined? How does the economy spontaneously organise itself so that markets operate in an orderly way? When does the natural working of the economy tend to produce socially desirable outcomes, and when does it not? Should the government intervene in the economy, and if so, how?

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Macroeconomics is the study of economy-wide outcomes - unemployment, inflation and economic growth - which have an important impact on the general level of economic well-being in a society. An emphasis is placed on how government policy, particularly fiscal and monetary policies, can alter economic outcomes.

Macroeconomics is an important area for students interested in further study in economics or social sciences, and as a preparation for employment in business or government.

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Other subjects also draw on macroeconomics principles:

Actuarial studies

Today's actuaries work across the financial sector in areas such as banking, superannuation, stockbroking and health insurance.

Our actuarial program is taught through the Centre for Actuarial Studies, which is accredited with the Actuaries Institute. Students have the opportunity to obtain exemption from Parts I and II of the Actuaries Institute examination requirements to qualify as an actuary.

Our broad program covers economics, accounting, finance, mathematics and statistics. Specialisation in actuarial subjects takes place in the third year of study, and continues in the honours year.

For more information, please visit the Centre for Actuarial Studies website.

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Quantitative methods and econometrics

Many questions in economics and finance involve quantifying relationships between variables. If the Reserve Bank Board increases interest rates by 0.5%, by how much will the demand for housing decline? By how much will the value of the Australian dollar rise? If a supermarket chain spends money on TV advertising, by how much will their sales increase?

Answering such questions involves measuring or forecasting changes in economic and financial variables - which is what econometrics is all about. It uses theory and data from economics, business and the social sciences, along with the tools of statistics, to answer 'how much' type questions.

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Environmental economics

Environmental issues have come to the fore in recent years. Designing policies aimed at reducing environmental pollution and degradation requires that we understand the economics behind these actions.

Environmental economics focuses on market failure - when environmental problems occur due to non-existence of markets or due to markets not working properly. In such instances, interventions such as emissions tax or tradable permits might be needed to deal with the environmental problems. Environmental economics subjects critically evaluate the different regulatory approaches for dealing with environmental degradation, showing you how to place monetary value on environmental resources.

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Economic history

Economies are constantly changing. To understand today's economic climate, it is important to understand what has happened in the past, and why. Why, for example, is the global economy shaped the way it is? Where are the emerging trends in the local, regional and global economies taking us, and how can economic analysis illuminate the processes at work?

These questions are of vital importance to policymakers and businesses. We offer subjects that examine these interesting, real-world issues in depth.

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International economics and economic development

International economics seeks to understand the nature of international trade and financial linkages, to help formulate economic policy in both developed and underdeveloped economies.

Economic development - which deals with the core issues of economic growth, structural transformation and evolution of economic institutions ?" studies these processes within the broader context of an interdependent global economy.

Traditionally, the field of international economics is divided into two branches: pure trade theory and trade policy; and open economy macroeconomics. Both branches are a necessary foundation if the two-way linkage between international economics and economic development is to be fully understood, helping in the analysis of issues such as the emergence of the Newly Industrialising Economies (NIEs) of East and South-East Asia, or the increasing importance of China and India in the world economy.

Development economics focuses on the economic transformation of developing countries, particularly what hinders economic growth and development. The scope of development economics is wide, including: a study of the nature of markets and other social institutions; the reasons why markets may fail and the potential role of government policy; demographic issues such as population growth and migration; and the impact of development on the environment, income distribution, poverty and inequality.

It draws on theories developed in several areas of economics such as growth models, international trade and monetary economics, public economics, contract theory and incentives.

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