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Unit of study_

ECON6023: International Trade

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit develops the modern theory of international trade and commercial policy and examines some empirical applications. Topics covered include competitive trade theory; comparative advantage and theories of international trade patterns; the gains from trade; empirical evidence and methodology; imperfectly competitive trade theory and economies of scale, differentiated products, and technology; analysis of the effects of tariffs and trade quotas upon trade under competitive and imperfectly competitive market structures; the formation and design of regional trade agreements and the strategic behaviour of multinational enterprises. It will be suitable for those with an interest in international trade and business issues as well as those who may wish to pursue PhD research in these areas. It will be taught at a graduate level and so presumes knowledge of advanced undergraduate microeconomics.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ECON6023
Academic unit Economics
Credit points 6
ECON6001 or ECON6701
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Mark Melatos,
Lecturer(s) Mark Melatos,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Open book) Type C final exam Final exam (take home)
Take home exam, Details will be provided closer to the date.
50% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
In-semester test (Open book) Type C in-semester exam Mid- semester exam (take home)
Take home exam. Details will be provided on Canvas closer to the date.
20% Week 07
Due date: 21 Apr 2021 at 18:00
50 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Written research report
Research report
30% Week 12
Due date: 26 May 2021 at 18:00
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO1
Type C final exam = Type C final exam ?
Type C in-semester exam = Type C in-semester exam ?

Assessment summary

The research report will be of (maximum) length 2000 words.  The aim is to choose a top-ranked academic economics journal, which theoretically models one of the following topics:

  1. Trade in intermediate inputs, i.e. “outsourcing”
  2. Political economy of international trade
  3. The impact of trade on the environment

You will discuss and critically analyse the paper in detail, showing that you understand: (i) the intuition underpinning its main results and (ii) the limitations of the model.  You will place the paper in context to the relevant literature, i.e. explain the nature and significance of its contribution (you will have to read other papers to do this).  Finally, you will suggest extensions to the work undertaken in the paper.

Before starting work on this project, you need to show me the paper that you plan to discuss so that I can verify its suitability.

Detailed information regarding the mid-term and final exams will be provided on Canvas closer to the date.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 02 Technology and trade: the Ricardian model Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 03 Technology and trade: the Ricardian model Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 04 Resources and trade: the HeckscherOhlin model Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 05 Resources and trade: the HeckscherOhlin model Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 06 Economies of scale, imperfect competition and trade Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 08 Economies of scale, imperfect competition and trade Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 09 Economies of scale, imperfect competition and trade Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 10 International trade policy Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 11 International trade policy Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 12 International trade policy Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 13 International trade agreements Seminar (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library link available on Canvas or on 2hr special reserve at Fisher Library.

  • Required text: Krugman, P.R., M. Obstfeld and M.J. Melitz (2018) “International Economics: Theory and Policy”, 11th global ed. Pearson
  • Recommended text: Feenstra, R. C. (2004 or 2015) “Advanced International Trade: Theory and Evidence”, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

The Feenstra text is more advanced and will form the bulk of my lecture notes.  My lecture notes are very detailed and so should be sufficient to learn the more technical material, but you are encouraged to refer to the Feenstra textbook for additional assistance if required.

Students considering undertaking PhD studies in International Economics, should think seriously about purchasing the book by Feenstra as well.  The Krugman text provides a practitioner’s 

Lecture notes will be made available on Canvas before each lecture.  Solutions to problem sets and exams will also be made available on Canvas. Canvas will also be used to make general announcements 
to the class. I will assume that you will check the Canvas site for this unit at least once every day. You should make this a habit.

Topic 1: Introduction

Krugman: Chapters 1, 2.

Topic 2: Technology and Trade: The Ricardian Model

Krugman: Chapter 3.

Feenstra: Chapter 1.

Topic 3: Resources and Trade: The HeckscherOhlin Model

Krugman: Chapters 4, 5 and 6.

Feenstra: Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

Topic 4: Economies of Scale, Imperfect Competition and Trade

Krugman, Chapters 7 & 8.

Feenstra: Chapter 5.

Topic 5: International Trade Policy

Krugman: Chapters 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Feenstra: Chapter 5.

Topic 6: International Trade Agreements

Krugman: Chapter 9

Feenstra: Chapter 6.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate skills in oral and written communication (through class discussions, tests and essay)
  • LO2. demonstrate skills in problem solving (through tutorial questions and tests)
  • LO3. demonstrate critical thinking (through class discussions, tests, tutorial questions and essay)
  • LO4. demonstrate basic modelling skills (through tutorial questions and tests)
  • LO5. identify and intuitively explain the key issues in international trade theory and policy
  • LO6. understand the importance of assumptions in the economic modelling of international trade
  • LO7. distinguish between the efficiency implications and distributional consequences of trade and trade policy
  • LO8. understand the role of politics in trade and vice versa
  • LO9. assess the costs and benefits of trade policy from an economic point of view
  • LO10. feel sufficiently informed to confidently participate in public policy discussions and be ready to challenge some of the misconceptions regarding trade and globalisation.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Assessments have been changed in response to student feedback


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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