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Land and Resource Economics
FRE 374
Instructor: Sumeeet Gulati
Office: McML 341
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:00-10:50 am
Class Schedule: MWF 11:00-11:50 am
Classroom: McML 166
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

Why should you take this course?
Do you wonder why our fish are severely over-exploited? Why record numbers of known wildlife species are going extinct? Why we seem to care little about the long-run well-being of our forests? Why some cities sprawl, while others have high density? Or do you care about other similar questions? If so, this course if for you.

What will you gain from this course?

  • An understanding of how we (collectively as a society) make decisions about our natural resources.
  • An objective analytical framework to evaluate our decisions and improve them.

Together, we will build an analytical framework from simple economic principles. We will use it to define society's optimal preservation of natural resources, and evaluate over-exploitation. We will then ask: why do we make sub-optimal decisions? There will be no single answer, but we will be able to identify significant issues. Is the market failing to do the optimal? Based on the type of resource, we will study how policy can bring exploitation to optimal levels.

We will not find any definite solutions to the above questions. We will instead learn of some of the major economic explanations. If, at the end of this term, you can identify some of the economic reasons underlying natural resource decisions in the real world, this course will have achieved its objective.

Course Materials

Required Text: (you can buy new or old; available at the UBC bookstore)

  • New Text: Barry C. Field (2008). "Natural Resource Economics: An Introduction", Waveland Press Book Website:, either the new or old edition.
  • Old Text: Barry C. Field (2001). "Natural Resource Economics: An Introduction", McGraw-Hill.

Online Course Material: Available at UBC Connect:

  • You are required to regularly login to your course page for ECON/FRE 374. This syllabus, course-lecture slides, additional material, announcements, assignments, and grades can be accessed there.

Clickers: (you can buy used or new; available at the UBC bookstore)

  • We will use clickers throughout this course for in-class questions, assigning participation grades, and for in-class quizzes. More information at: You must register your clicker online so grades can be assigned. Your ECON/FRE 374 Connect page has a clicker registration link. Use this link if you have not already registered your clicker for another course. You must have a registered clicker by midnight, 11:59PM, Thursday September 12th, 2013. Your information will be downloaded to my computer after midnight. Clicker use will begin in class Friday September 13th and will count towards your grade starting then.

Optional Reference Material via Twitter: Almost everyday, I shall provide links to news and blog posts related to the economics of natural resources and environment via my twitter page: This material is solely for your edification; it is not required.


The philosophy for the assessment section is to allow you several means to do well in this course. If you do not do too well on one particular test or assignment, you will have the opportunity to make it up in another.

You will be tested on all material, including (1) what is covered in class, and (2) the material that I post in your course page on UBC Connect. I will design questions to test an understanding of the material, and an ability to apply it.

Your grade will be determined as follows:

Assessment Tool Date or Other Information Percent of Grade
Midterm October 18, 2013 30%
Best 3 Problem Sets 3 of 4 assigned on Vista 15%
Best 2 Class Quizzes 2 of 3 administered in class 15%
Class Participation Based on Clicker use in class 5%
Final Exam As per university exam schedule 35%
Total: 100%

Assessment will be:

  • One Midterm Examination: 30% of grade
  • Out of 4 Assignments: your 3 best scoring assignments will account for 15%. Assignments submitted late will automatically receive a mark of zero - no exceptions.
  • 3 in-class surprise Quizzes: the best 2 scoring quizzes will account for 15% of your grade
  • Class Participation: based on your clicker use. If you attempt 3/4th of the questions asked in a class, you will earn one participation point. These points will account for 5% of your total grade. I will not ask you to use your Clicker in each class. However, I will not know in advance if I might include questions using your Clicker, so you should be carrying it all the time.
  • The Final Examination: 35%

Information about your Exams:

  • All midterm and final exams will include only short answer questions. The final exam will be cumulative - i.e., will cover ALL content covered during the term.
  • The Registrar's Office will schedule the end of term exams for any time during the examination period. You have to ensure that you are available throughout that period.
  • The University accommodates students with disabilities who have registered with the Disability Resource Centre. The University also accommodates students whose religious obligations conflict with attendance or scheduled tests or exams. Please let the instructor know in advance if you will require any accommodation on these grounds. Other absences for varsity athletics, family obligations, or other similar commitments are not part of the University policy, and students should not assume that they will be accommodated. If you have a pressing issue that conflicts with an exam, you should discuss this with your instructor as soon as possible. Refer to the UBC Calendar for details of 'academic concession'.

Your unsurprising in-class quizzes: Each will last for approximately 15 minutes. They will be entirely multiple choice and will be administered using your Clicker. These quizzes will cover anything from class, including material taught that day itself.

Make-up Exams: It is important that everyone take the same exams under the same conditions for maximum fairness. I therefore do not give makeup exams unless you have a valid reason. If a midterm or final exam is missed for a legitimate reason, and a doctor's note or other verification is provided, a make-up exam will be permitted. You need to contact me as soon as possible prior to the missed exam.

Extra Credit: In this class, there is no extra credit. Your grade is based on your performance on exams, assignments, quizzes, and in-class activities. There is nothing else that can be submitted or done to gain any extra points.

Classroom Procedures

Attendance: It is essential that you attend classes, and it is strongly recommended that you read ahead in the text. If you do miss a class, you are responsible for getting class notes from another student.

Laptop/iPod/iPad/Smart Phone use: While you are in class, it is important that you use your time for learning and challenging your instructor. If you must use these devices, please ensure that it is for class use only. And yes, that means no social networking during class.

Cellphones: You should turn off all cellphones in class.

How to Learn Successfully

  1. Prior to Class: In order to prepare for the day's lesson and to prevent falling behind on reading assignments, it is strongly recommended to read the text material before attending class. You should also go over the assigned readings prior to class.
  2. During Class: Taking notes is extremely important for understanding and organizing the material.
  3. After Class: It is recommended that you rewrite/organize your notes following class. Revisiting the material on a weekly basis may seem like more work now, but this time is saved later when preparing yourself for examinations! Review the "Big Picture" and see where the class material fits in (if you have doubts, ask me before the next class). In order for you to understand the material in this course, it is extremely important that you do the assigned homework problems. Working with your classmates can be a great help, and I strongly encourage it. I also urge you to ask questions about any problems that give you trouble. Find a study partner. Missing a lecture here or there can mean the difference of a letter grade. Study partners can share notes, and can help highlight problem content. Ask me for help. By far, the most important and least utilized resource available to students is the course instructor. Use office hours and time before and after class to talk with me in order to clarify content.

Academic Dishonesty

Please review the UBC Calendar "Academic Regulations" for the university policy on cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty.

Other Important Resources

  • UBC Counselling Services provide stress management, group therapy, and individual counselling for students. See their website for more information:
  • The UBC Ombudsman office provides an independent, impartial, and confidential resource to assist students in addressing and resolving concerns about unfair treatment at UBC Vancouver. See their website for more information:

During Exams

Please keep in mind the following requirements for each exam and quiz:

  • Please bring your picture ID and make it visible during each exam.
  • No cellphones please. If you have them with you, please switch them off and keep them in your bag. They should not be visible to us.
  • No calculators or pencil cases.
  • There should be no talking during or after the exam INSIDE the exam hall, even if you have submitted your exam.
  • Tips on taking exams:
    • Read every question on the exam before you start working. This will give you a feel for how long the exam is and how you should pace yourself. If will also give your subconscious mind a chance to start working on the questions.
    • If you are not sure what a question means, please ask me. I am trying to see how well you know the material, not to trick you with ambiguous wording.
    • Look at the point value of each question. Obviously, it is more important to do well on the questions that count for the most than the ones that count for the least.
    • It is generally best to do the easiest problem first, then the next easiest and so on. You do not have to do the problems in the order that they appear on the exam.
    • If you get stuck on a question, move on to the next. Come back later to the question that is giving you trouble.
    • Be aware of how much time you have left. Do not spend too much time on a single question. It is generally better to get partial credit on every question than full credit on a single question.

Course Outline

Tentative course outline (with reading assignment required before class):

  1. An Introduction to Natural Resource Economics: Field chapters 1 and 2
  2. Building Blocks
    • Willingness to Pay: Field chapter 3
    • Costs/Supply: Field chapter 4
    • Efficiency/Sustainability: Field chapter 5
  3. Markets and Efficiency: Field chapter 6
  4. Public Policy, Objectives, Types, etc: Field chapter 7
  5. Natural Resource Analysis
    • Principles of Analysis: Field chapter 8
    • Valuation of Natural Resources: Field chapter 9
  6. Applied Natural Resource Problems
    • Mineral Economics: Field chapter 10
    • Marine Resources: Field chapter 13
    • Forest Economics: Field chapter 12
    • Economics of Wildlife Management: Field chapter 18
    • Economics of Biodiversity Preservation: Field chapter 19
    • Land Economics
      • An Introduction: Field chapter 14
      • Resource Rents and Rent Capture: Field chapter 14 and material on Vista
      • Efficiency and Equity in Land Use Planning: material on Vista
      • Degradation and Conservation of Agricultural Land: material on Vista
    • Water Resources: Field chapter 15
    • Natural Resource Decisions in Developing Countries: Field chapter 21

This syllabus is not exhaustive and may be revised later depending on how the class proceeds.