ECON2920 – Environmental and natural resource economics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

We will use economics to learn why we harm the environment and overuse natural resources, and what we can do about it. We will talk about whether and how we can put a dollar value on nature and ecosystem services. We will study cost benefit analysis, pollution in general, climate change, natural resources (like fisheries, forests, and fossil fuels), and energy. We will take an economic approach to global sustainability, and study the relationship between the environment and economic growth and trade.

    Learning outcome

    Some people think economics is “all about the bottom line,” where the bottom line is necessarily about corporate profits and GDP. It’s certainly possible to use economics in that way. However, the tools of economics are also well-suited to helping solve the world’s environmental and natural resource problems. In this class, we will take a tour of the fields of environmental and natural resource economics. The objective of the course is to give you a taste of what the topics in these fields are, and how economic tools are useful in analyzing and solving problems in these fields. By the end of the semester, you will be able to approach a range of environmental and resource problems with the perspective of an economist, and I hope this will inform your engagement with the world’s important environmental policy debates.


    You should know

    • The concepts and frameworks that characterize an efficient allocation of resources.
    • The different types of institutions that can contribute to achieving efficiency with respect to private goods, public goods, and common pool resources.
    • The main types of policy tools that governments can use to correct market failures related to the environment. 


    You should be able to

    • Propose policy instruments to correct for market failures related to the environment
    • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of such policy instruments
    • Use cost benefit analysis to assess a wide range of policy options or investments decisions.


    You should

    • Increase your ability to comprehend environmental and natural resource problems, and critically assess environmental policy proposals.


    Students at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb.

    If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

    You can not attend this course if you have already passed specific ECON-courses at a higher level.


    Recommended previous knowledge

    • The course is based on prior knowledge in microeconomics corresponding to ECON1210 – Mikroøkonomi 1. Students who do not have this prior knowledge, are advised not to take this course.


    Lectures and seminars.

    Compulsory tuition activities:

    • Group oral presentation
      • Groups will choose a research topic related to the course, which has to be approved by the instructor by the fourth week of class. Groups that have not chosen a topic by then will be assigned one by the instructor.
      • Groups will be randomly formed on Canvas. Please check Canvas to see your group assignment.
      • During the last two weeks of class, every group will give a 15 minute presentation.
      • Guidelines for the assignment will be given in Canvas at the beginning of the semester. 

    Access to teaching

    A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


    Ordinarily, this course has a 3-hour written school exam.

    For 2020 the following applies for the exam:

    The examination will be a 5-hour home examination in Inspera. The home exam will be an open-book exam, where all written and printed resources as well as technical support is allowed. All submitted papers will be checked for plagiarism. You can find the date and time for the exam on the semester page.

    You must have passed the mandatory activities in order to sit for the exam.

    Exam papers with comments from examiner

    Submit assignments in Inspera

    You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

    Use of sources and citation

    You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

    Language of examination

    The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

    Grading scale

    Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

    Explanations and appeals

    Resit an examination

    If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

    See also our information about resitting an exam.

    Withdrawal from an examination

    It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

    Special examination arrangements

    Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


    The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

    Facts about this course






    Every spring


    Every spring

    Teaching language