Department of Economics

Undergraduate studies in Economics

The Bachelor of Commerce in Economics (BCom, Economics) is a three-year degree that offers students an introduction to various economics sub-disciplines. In the first year of the programme, students are provided grounding and basic understanding of theories and concepts in Micro- and Macroeconomics. The second year of the programme provides an intermediate focus on economic theory. In the third year of the programme, students receive advanced understanding of economic policy-making and analysis, where students apply the knowledge from the first year to practical economic scenarios. At third-year level, students narrow their focus to the electives, namely Public Economics, International Trade, Development Economics, International Finance, Monetary Economics and the History of Economic Thought. Econometrics is compulsory for third-year BCom (Economics) students. Please click here for more information on undergraduate modules offered by the department.

Prospective students

Prospective students are requested to consult the UNISA website for detailed information on the admission requirements for the degree.

Concurrent registrations

Please note that, based on our curriculum, certain modules are a foundation/prerequisite for other ensuing module(s). This was designed to assist and prepare students for the ensuing module(s). It is thus in the best interest of the student to first complete the prerequisite module before attempting the ensuing module. On the basis of the above reason, the Department of Economics has decided not to approve any requests for permission to register modules concurrently.

Requests to register modules for non-degree purposes (NDP)

Requests for NDP registrations will be considered strictly on a case-by-case basis. This is only applicable to undergraduate students who intend to pursue an Honours Degree in Economics.  The permission to complete modules for NDP degree purposes is not an approval or a promise of admission to any qualification beyond the registration of the modules. On completion of the NDP modules, students must apply for admission to the preferred qualification.

The process to apply for NDP registration:

All students should first apply for the qualification he/she wishes to enrol for, e.g. BCom Hons in Economics, during Unisa’s application period. Once the student’s application is declined, the student may appeal to the academic department who may then recommend the registration of specific modules for NDP. The recommended NDP modules will be determined by the Department of Economics and will depend on the undergraduate modules you have already completed. The Department of Economics cannot recommend or approve NDP modules outside of Unisa’s formal application process.

Where are your potential employment environments after completing the degree?

Graduates with a BCom (Economics) degree are employable as economic analysts, economists, labour market analysts or labour market economists. The work environments related to economics include Government departments, International organizations, research organizations, the central bank and commercial banks. For more information on career parts offered through a degree in Economics, please consult the career research brochure on the home page and also the National Career Advice Portal (NCAP).

Undergraduate modules offered by the department

First Year

Level coordinator: Ms C van Zyl

Module leader Mr W le Roux
Module members Dr K Amusa
Mr C Leotlela
Mr T Malatji
Ms T Moletsane
Ms K Mdingi
Mr S Khuzwayo
Ms L Nesongozhe
Mr S Joubert
Mr B Serfontein
Purpose The purpose of this module is to gain insight into how a market system addresses the economic problem of scarcity.
  1. The study field of economics
  2. The economist’s toolkit
  3. Economic systems
  4. Production possibilities curve
  5. Circular flow model
  6. Demand, supply and prices
  7. Consumer and producer surplus
  8. Changes in demand and supply
  9. Government intervention
  10. Price elasticity
  11. Other elasticities
  12. Theory of demand: Marginal utility analysis
  13. Theory of supply: Cost of production
  14. Perfect and imperfect competition
  15. Labour market
Module leader Mr C Byneveld
Module members Dr K Amusa
Mr C Leotlela
Mr T Malatji
Ms T Moletsane
Ms K Mdingi
Mr S Khuzwayo
Ms L Nesongozhe
Mr S Joubert
Mr B Serfontein
Purpose This module introduces students to basic macroeconomic theory and variables which will enable students to explain the functioning of the economy as a whole and assess the performance of the economy.
  1. Interdependence of the major sectors, markets and flows in a mixed economy
  2. The monetary sector
  3. The public sector
  4. The foreign sector Measuring the performance of the economy
  5. Income determination in a simple Keynesian macroeconomic model
  6. Keynesian models, including the government and the foreign sector
  7. More on macroeconomic theory and policy
  8. Inflation
  9. Unemployment and the Phillips curve
  10. Economic growth

Second Year

Level coordinator: Dr I Maloma

Module leader Mr K Lelaka
Module members Dr M Malefana
Purpose This module introduces students to neoclassical microeconomic theory that will enable students to explain the behavior of consumers and firms and to predict the performance of the economy.
  1. Preliminaries (What is Microeconomics?)
  2. The basics of supply and demand
  3. Consumer behaviour
  4. Individual and market demand
  5. Production
  6. The cost of production
  7. Profit maximisation and competitive supply
  8. The analysis of competitive markets
  9. Market power: Monopoly and monopsony
  10. Pricing with market power
  11. Monopolistic competition and oligopoly
  12. Markets for factor inputs
  13. General equilibrium and economic efficiency
Module leader Ms T Uys
Module members

Ms S Kennedy-Palmer

Mr C Leotlela

Purpose This module will enable students to analyse the functioning of a macroeconomic system. Students will be able to determine and evaluate the level of output and income in closed and open macroeconomic models and assess the impact of stabilisation policy measures such as fiscal and monetary policy on the economy in terms of the above models.
  1. An overview of the South African macroeconomic environment
  2. The goods market
  3. The financial market
  4. The IS-LM model: Goods and financial markets
  5. Openness in goods and financial markets
  6. The goods market in an open economy
  7. Output, the interest rate and the exchange rate: The IS-LM model for an open economy
  8. The labour market
  9. The Phillips curve, the natural rate of unemployment and inflation, and the IS-LM-PC model
Module leader Mr B Serfontein
Module members Ms L Nkosi
Purpose This module will enable students to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning, calculation and interpretation of a wide range of economic indicators and to apply this understanding to recent South African economic data. These indicators include various national accounting and employment concepts, price indices and balance of payments statistics.
  1. National Accounting
  2. Economic growth
  3. Business cycles
  4. Employment and unemployment
  5. Inflation
  6. International transactions
  7. Wages, productivity and income distribution
  8. Financial indicators
  9. Fiscal indicators
  10. Social indicators
  11. International comparisons
Module leader Ms W Gamede
Module members Dr T Rametsi
Purpose This module will enable students to understand the basic issues concerning the economics of labour and the functioning of the South African labour market in practice. Students will be able to evaluate, and suggest possible solutions to, current labour market problems and issues in the light of knowledge gained from a theoretical analysis of all aspects of labour and the labour market.
  1. The supply of labour
  2. The demand for labour
  3. Wages and the cost of labour
  4. Unions, collective bargaining and minimum wages
  5. Productivity and labour market flexibility
  6. Globalisation and the labour market
  7. Unemployment in South Africa
  8. Human capital and the demand for skilled workers
  9. Labour market inequalities and discrimination
  10. Social dialogue and codetermination
Module leader Ms S Kennedy-Palmer
Module members Dr C Vermeulen
Purpose This module will equip student with a thorough knowledge of the financial system of South Africa and the way in which the different components operate and affect each other. Students will be able to describe, evaluate and advise on issues concerning the financial sector.
  1. The role and structure of the South African financial system
  2. The role of banks and the South African Reserve Bank in the South African financial system
  3. The role of other financial institutions in the South African financial system
  4. The decision-making process in the financial markets: some basic tools and calcu-lations
  5. Overview of financial markets and instruments
Module leader Dr I Maloma
Module members Mr K Lelaka
Purpose This module will enable students to determine the relationship between the macro- and micro-economy, and the natural environment, evaluate frameworks for environmental decision-making and assess the formulation of different policy measures.
  1. What is environmental economics?
  2. The economy and the environment
  3. Benefits and costs, supply and demand
  4. Economic efficiency and markets
  5. The economics of environmental quality
  6. Framework of analysis
  7. Benefit-cost analysis: benefits
  8. Benefit-cost analysis: costs
  9. Criteria for evaluating environmental policies
  10. Decentralized policies: liability laws, Property rights and voluntary action
  11. Command-and-control strategies: the case of standards
  12. Incentive-based strategies: emission charges and subsidies
  13. Incentive-based strategies: transferable discharge permits
  14. Comparative environmental policies
Module leader Ms G Maluleke
Module members Prof L Leshoro
Purpose This module will enable students to recognise and analyse the influence of microeconomic and macroeconomic variables on the leisure and tourism industry. Students will be able to recognise the necessity of an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to leisure and tourism.
  1. Organizations and markets
  2. Demand and supply
  3. Markets in practice
  4. The external operating environment
  5. Investment
  6. Economic impacts
  7. The global economy
  8. Environmental economics
Module leader Mr H Rudolph
Module members Prof P-H van Eeghen
Purpose This module will enable students to critically assess the development of the modern international economy since 1820.
  1. Causes of economic growth
  2. Long-term capital movements
  3. International migration
  4. Commercial policy
  5. Foreign trade
  6. The growth of the multilateral payments network
  7. The rise and fall of the gold standard
  8. The spread of industrialisation
  9. The impact of the First World War
  10. The Great Depression
  11. The disintegration of the international economy during the 1930s
  12. The post-1945 international economy

Module leader

Mr H Rudolph
Module members Prof P-H van Eeghen
Purpose This module will enable students to critically assess the development of the Western market economy in South Africa.
  1. The origins of the indigenous pre-capitalist economy
  2. The development of the Cape Colony from a refreshment station to a far-flung colony of settlement under the Dutch East India Company (1652–1795)
  3. South Africa during the agricultural era (1795–1870)
  4. The impact of the mining revolution (1870–1910)
  5. The gradual industrialisation of South Africa after 1910

Third Year

Level coordinator: Dr M Malefane

Module leader Prof L Leshoro
Module members Ms G Maluleke
Purpose Students will have a fundamental understanding of basic issues in monetary economics. They will be able to view, reflect on and solve current issues in the light of various theories that have been put forward concerning the role of money, the role of financial markets and interest rates and the role of the central banks in the economy.
  1. Why study money, banking and financial
  2. An overview of the financial system
  3. What is money?
  4. Understanding interest rates
  5. The behaviour of interest rates
  6. The risk and term structure of interest rates
  7. An economic analysis of financial structure
  8. Financial crises in advanced economies
  9. Financial crises in emerging market economies
  10. Banking and the management of financial institutions
  11. Central banks: a global perspective
  12. The money supply process
  13. Tools of monetary policy
  14. The conduct of monetary policy: Strategy and tactics
  15. Quantity theory, inflation and the demand for money
  16. Monetary policy theory
  17. The role of expectations in monetary policy
  18. Transmission mechanisms of monetary policy
Module leader Dr K Amusa
Module members Mr M Marais
Purpose This module will equip students with the ability to understand and analyse different trade theories and trade policy issues, as well as to analyse the motives and effects of international capital flows.
  1. Why nations trade: The classical theory
  2. The standard theory of international trade
  3. The basis of trade: The factor proportions theory
  4. Tariff and nontariff barriers to trade
  5. Trade liberalisation and economic integration
  6. International resource movements and multinational corporations
Module leader Mr M Marais
Module members Dr K Amusa
Purpose This module will enable learners to view, reflect on and solve current issues of the balance of payments, the foreign exchange rates, and the different theories thereof.
  1. The balance of payments
  2. Foreign exchange markets and exchange rates
  3. Theories of exchange rate determination
  4. Fixed exchange rates and balance of payments adjustment mechanism
  5. Macroeconomic policy in an open economy
  6. The international monetary system
Module leader Prof Z Robinson
Module members Mr C Leotlela
Purpose This module will enable students to analyse public finance issues and policy within the context of the South African economy and other developing countries. Students will be able to describe, evaluate and advise on the role of government, its expenditures and tax revenue sources as well as intergovernmental fiscal relations. The study of Public Economics is an application of Microeconomics and, therefore, requires a deep understanding of Microeconomics as being taught on intermediate level.
  1. The benchmark model of resource allocation
  2. Public goods and externalities
  3. Imperfect competition
  4. Equity and social welfare
  5. Public choice and government failure
  6. The growth in public expenditure
  7. Introduction to taxation and tax equity
  8. Tax efficiency and tax reform
  9. Income taxation
  10. Poverty and income distribution
  11. Fiscal federalism
Module leader Dr M Malefana
Module members Dr J Hart
Purpose Students credited with this module will have gained a better grasp of how economic thinking has developed over the centuries with particular references to famous economists like Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Mill, Marx, Marshall, Walras, Veblen, Keynes, Friedman, and more recently Lucas. This “historical awareness” should help them to evaluate current economic ideas and policy proposals better.
  1. Mercantilism, physiocracy, and classical forerunners
  2. Adam Smith
  3. Malthus, Ricardo and Mill
  4. Socialism and Marx
  5. The marginalist/neoclassical schools, Marshall and Walras
  6. The historical and institutionalist schools, Veblen and Galbraith
  7. The Keynesian and Chicago schools, Friedman and Lucas
Module leader Prof S Nhamo
Module members Ms L Nkosi
Purpose This module will enable students to use economic theory, mathematical and statistical tools to specify and estimate the coefficients of a regression equation in the most efficient way. The goal is to find the most accurate estimates of the coefficients of the regression equation, whatever the difficulties which arise. Students will understand the purpose and method of econometrics, be able to apply statistics with confidence, specify an equation with skill and consideration and deal purposefully with econometric problems.
  1. An overview of Regression Analysis
  2. Statistical Principles
  3. Ordinary Least Squares Estimation (OLS)
  4. Learning to use Regression Analysis
  5. The Classical Model
  6. Hypothesis Testing
  7. Choosing the independent variables
  8. Choosing a functional form
  9. Multicollinearity
  10. Serial correlation
  11. Heteroscedasticity
Module leader Ms K Nchoe
Module members Ms W Gamede
Purpose This module will enable students to analyse economic development issues and policy within the context of developing countries. Students will be able to describe, evaluate and advise on development challenges within a national and international context.
  1. Development and Development Economics
  2. The Economics of Growth
  3. Theories of Development: a Comparative Analysis
  4. Poverty Inequality and Development
  5. Population Growth and Economic Development
  6. Human Capital: Education and Health in Economic Development
  7. The Trade Policy Debate: Export Promotion, Import Substitution, and Economic Integration
  8. Foreign Finance, Investment and Aid: Controversies and Opportunities
  9. Development Policy and The Role of The State

Last modified: 2023/08/07