Example Course 3: The Economics of Oil

An exploration of the economic issues surrounding oil and, in particular, the economic fortunes of oil-rich countries

Example Courses

In this chapter, we demonstrate how to create actual courses using the Economy Studies design toolkit, showing various example courses. Each of these courses flows from our central philosophy: teach students how to study the economy, rather than teaching them one form of economic thinking in the abstract. In terms of our principles, they vary: some of these example courses focus more on pluralism, others on real-world economics, others yet on thinking about values. As for the building blocks, each of the example courses uses at least one of the ten building blocks, while most use more than one.

These courses are described rather briefly in this chapter, as full syllabi, slides or exam questions would take up too much space in a physical book. More extensive course descriptions, syllabi and teaching material can be found in the online database of our partner organisation Exploring Economics.

The courses shown here are highly diverse, and mainly intended to inspire and to show the range of possibilities. Depending on the knowledge available within a department, the courses designed there could be vastly different from the examples shown here.

Example Courses:

  1. The Challenges of Our Time (Main BB1, Additional BB2, BB3, BB8, BB9, BB10)
  2. Argentina and the IMF (Main BB9, Additional BB2, BB3, BB6, BB8, BB10)
  3. The Economics of Oil (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB6)
  4. A Historical Perspective on Economic Success (Main BB4, Additional BB1, BB6)
  5. The Digital Economy of South Korea (Main BB2, Additional BB3, BB5, BB6)
  6. Agent-Based Modelling (Main BB7, Additional BB4, BB9)
  7. The World of Production (Main BB8, Additional BB2, BB3, BB4, BB5)
  8. The Political-Economic System of India (Main BB6, Additional BB2, BB3, BB10)
  9. Economics for a Better World (Main BB10, Additional BB1, BB2)
  10. Coordination and Allocation Mechanisms in Norwegian Agriculture (Main BB5, Additional BB2, BB3)
  11. The Economics of Financial Crises (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB4, BB6)

Example Course 3: The Economics of Oil

By: Andrew Graham (Queen’s University Belfast)

Course outline:

As oil is a commodity familiar to all of us, it is an ideal lens through which fundamental economic concepts such as supply, demand, elasticity, externalities, power relations, and property rights can be intuitively examined. It can also provide a lens on macroeconomic and geopolitical issues such as inflation, international trade, exchange rates, national and global power struggles. These topics will be investigated through studying specific cases, such as the oil crises of the 1970s.

This course will also include an analysis of the causes and consequences of the economic divergence of oil-rich nations. Countries such as Venezuela and Iraq haven’t been able to sustainably develop their economies, while countries such as Norway and Qatar have amassed great wealth. In addressing this divergence, the economic impact of factors such as government policy and conflict will be discussed. Furthermore, the future direction of these countries will be debated as they face environmental and economic pressures to diversify their economies. Important elements here are the history of climate change and the lobbying power of oil companies.

Required background knowledge:

Introducing the Economy (BB1)

Nominal workload:

7,5 ECTS (225 hrs)

This course uses the following building blocks:


  • Economic Theories (BB8)


  • Economic History (BB3)
  • Political-Economic Systems (BB6)