Natural Resource Economics

Module Lead: David Maddison

Credits: 10

Introduction and module objectives:

Students are introduced to the concept of rent and the different meanings that it has in the context of agricultural land. Students are taught basic optimal control theory. This theory is then used to illustrate the depletion of exhaustible resources over time and to show how depletion responds to differences in market structure, the costs of extraction and taxation of resource rents. Control theory is then used to demonstrate the management of the fisheries and forests under varying assumptions regarding market structure, the costs of harvesting and the existence of non-consumptive values. The regulation of the fishery is discussed and illustrated.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the concept of rent;
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of advanced optimal control theory;
  • Demonstrate a thorough grounding in the classical principles surrounding the optimal harvesting and depletion of natural resources;
  • Appraise the complex effects of government policy attempting to influence unregulated market outcomes;
  • Critically formulate economic problems in terms of optimal control theory.


  • Essay (20%)
  • Two hour written unseen examination (80%)