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Economics 1A


ECS1501 is a module that provides an overview of the main aspects of microeconomics. It gives you basic insight into important topics such as supply and demand, elasticity, and more.

The Unisa syllabus

  1. What Economics Is All About
  2. A Closer Look At The Economic Problem
  3. The Interdependence Between The Major Sectors, Markets and Flows In the Mixed Economy
  4. Demand, Supply and Prices
  5. Demand and Supply In Action
  6. Elasticity
  7. Background To Demand: The Theory of Consumer Choice
  8. Background To Supply: The Theory of Production and Cost
  9. Perfect Competition
  10. Monopoly and Imperfect Competition
  11. The Labour Market

The ECS1501 textbook

Prescribed textbook

ISBN 9780627027123
Title: Economics for South African students
Authors: Philip Mohr, Louis Fourie
Edition: 4th
Publisher: Van Schaik
Year published: 2007
Year prescribed: 2010

Recommended reading

The ECS1501 exam

Past exam papers

The exam in May/Jun 2009

The content of the exam was fair - neither too difficult, nor too easy. Certain questions appeared easier than they actually were due to the wording. Concepts such as the reasons for maximum prices, the determinants of demand for labour, the graph for short-run economic profit, the profit-maximising and shut-down rules, amongst others were tested.

How to pass ECS1501

Study tips

  • Practise drawing all of the diagrams that are suggested at the end of each module in the study guide. Actually drawing a graph, instead of just looking at it, helps you to remember it more easily.
  • Always label the curves, quantities, prices, points of equilibrium, and directions of increase or decrease on your graphs. Some of the graphs are worth about 5 marks for a reason.
  • Practise the calculations for the tables in the study guide.
  • Beware the use of the words “demand” and “quantity demanded”
  • An easy way to remember price floors (minimum prices) and price ceilings (maximum prices):” you stand below the ceiling” – for price ceilings, the maximum price is set below the equilibrium price; “you stand above the floor” – for price floors, the minimum price is set above the equilibrium price.
    • Then memorise that there is always excess demand at a maximum price, and excess supply at a minimum price.
    • If there is excess demand, the quantity demanded will decrease to reach equilibrium. The quantity supplied will obviously then increase to reach equilibrium.
    • If there is excess supply, the quantity supplied will decrease to reach equilibrium. The quantity demanded will obviously then increase to reach equilibrium.
  • The multiple choice questions may seem to have many correct options. However, there is usually only one truly correct option – be careful of the way the options are worded.
  • It helps to make your own summary of each chapter as you study it. That way when it comes to the exams, you don’t have to try and read pages and pages from a hefty textbook.

Useful links

Study notes

Download notes

AuthorDownload linkYear createdDescription
Shaun Syllabus summary 2007 An 11-page summary of the prescribed textbook and study guide.
Muhammed Notes 2011 ECS1501 Unit 1 summary of the prescribed textbook and study guide.

Create notes online

Student opinions

Student survey

Pros of ECS1501

  • You'll learn about interesting real-life phenomena such as why certain sportspeople are paid such ridiculous amounts, why legalising drugs may actually make the problem worse, and why the prices of certain goods go up and why others go down.
  • You'll gain a basic understanding of the economy - something that affects everyone, even though they do not realise it.

Cons of ECS1501

  • If you struggled with graphs and mathematical formulas at school, you may encounter some difficulty with this subject. However, with dedication and hard work, you can overcome these problems.
  • Economics requires an analytical way of thinking that not everyone is used to. It is, for example, different to the approach used in subjects such as MNB1501.
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