How economics helps solving big questions in society

How to deal with the economic impacts due to the COVID-19 epidemic? Will the monopoly power of large platforms like Facebook, Amazon and Uber increasingly interfere with national economic goals and policies? Are crypto currencies only for criminals or also affecting the real economy? And how do gender and ethnic discrimination affect the Dutch labor market?

Economics is about much more than finance, banks and money: it addresses some of the most pressing problems of today. The choices we make in our (economic and social) policies can affect our world in very real ways. In the University Minor in Economics you will learn to tackle societal issues from an economic perspective. You will be able to grasp why economies grow or stay behind, why economic crises occur, and critically asses the news coverage. But the minor is about more than that: it offers a strong foundation for understanding the world and societal challenges from an economic lens. In this minor we will jointly search for solutions for issues we face every day.

Why Economics?

The world is changing rapidly. Therefore, in this minor we aim to provide you with relevant knowledge and skills that are applicable to your own area of expertise. We challenge our students to look at societal issues in different ways, from multiple angles and disciplines. Whether you are a psychology student, have a background in law, or are following a programme in the health sciences; everyone is welcome. 

In this minor you will learn the basics and foundations of Economics. It will help you shape an informed opinion and give you relevant skills for your future career. You only need time, effort and a willingness to learn; background knowledge in economics isn’t needed.

A broad skillset and toolbox for every field

In the current job market, jobs are increasingly about combinations of skills rather than specialized knowledge only. Economics is everywhere; and the ability to understand and apply sound economic reasoning in combination with data analysis is becoming a key asset. Right now during your studies, but also in the future. With a strong policy focus, the minor not only can deliver thought-provoking insights into economic mechanisms, but also offer alternative ways to solve challenging issues. Once you’ve finished, you will have a future proof skill set and a toolbox you can apply in any field, business or job.

The overview of the courses in the study guide still refers to the academic year 2019-2020, the new structure for 2020-2021 will be as presented on this web page. The study guide will be updated soon.

The University Minor in Economics is a 30 EC programme consisting of the following five, interlinked modules (of 6 EC each):

Introduction to Economics
During this subject you are invited to look at the world with the eye of the economist: seeing the world as the outcome of many possible alternative outcomes, recognizing the pervasiveness of choice at every level from micro to macro. This course will introduce you to the fundamentals and basic tools of economic analysis. It will teach you the perspective of the economist: viewing reality as the result of choices and the trade-offs that these choices reflect. Using problem sets you will further develop your skills in using mathematical and graphical tools by applying them to stylized and real-world situations. Cases are an important part of the course, for illustrating economic principles but also to challenge you to use your newly acquired knowledge for better understanding. 

Economic Challenges
Economic theories do not come out of thin air. Crucial for this course is the insight that economists, both in the present and in the past, respond to the social, political and economic circumstances of their time. Their theories and policy proposals are not always in agreement with each other, which gives rise to the emergence of different paradigms and competing schools of thought. Studying the development of economic thought in its historical context is an excellent way to appreciate the richness of economics as a scientific tradition. 

The Economics of Crises
Introduces you to the theory and practice of fiscal and monetary policy, including regulation of the financial system. You get to apply macroeconomic concepts and theories to analyze problems of employment and inflation, and macroeconomic policymaking in managing business cycles and economic crises.

Choices, Inequality and Welfare
Identifies, analyzes and evaluates policy options to economic problems in labor markets, social insurance, pensions, development, trade, environment, and product market competition. Using problem sets and work on economic data increases and deepens understanding, and helps broaching a large number of microeconomic policy fields.

Applying Economics

Develops your capability to independently analyse a policy issue, design a policy response, or evaluate a policy intervention from an economic point of view. You learn how to motivate and formulate an appropriate research question, and conduct literature-based research resulting in a paper, presentation, and peer review.

All five modules represent a coherent package of closely intertwined courses, building gradually from first theoretical principles and tools of empirical economic analysis towards developing identification of market failure and insight when policy interventions may provide solutions. We take a structured approach to solve practical problems using economic core concepts and skills. Upon completion you will have a proven ability to apply sound economic reasoning to a range of issues on a micro- and macroeconomic level, for example related to health, environment, finance, labor, transport, and development.
For more information about each course, please visit the study guide.

*Note for students IBA/BK: you do not follow the course An Introduction to Economics, as this similar to a first year course you followed in your study programme (Economics or Economics for the Global Era), instead you have to choose one of the following courses: Introductory Econometrics for Business and Economics from the minor Applied Econometrics, or Health Economics from the minor Health Care Management.

The University Minor in Economics is for university students from nearly all majors (exceptions indicated below*) who want to acquire familiarity with the core principles of economic reasoning. Participants in the past had majors in Organization Studies, Physics, Health Studies, Civil Engineering, Philosophy, Political Science, Mathematics, Theology, and came from many faculties at VU and beyond (e.g. UvA, TU Delft). Economics combines rather well (either as complement or as addition) with lots of disciplines and fields of study.

There is no formal entrance requirement for the University Minor in Economics except for highschool level math (“VWO Wiskunde A” (or “B”)). A basic course in quantitative methods and/or statistics is strongly recommended, however. Eligible VU students do not need to ask for permission from the Examination Board to follow the University Minor in Economics and to count the credits (30 EC) towards their own BSc degree.

*Note: Students in the BSc programmes Economics and Business Economics and Econometrics are excluded from participating in the University Minor in Economics.


VU student: you can register for the courses of the minor via VUnet from 15 July.
Other students: you can register as a secondary course student (bijvak) via More information about this procedure can be found on this website in Dutch or in English.
If you have detailed questions about the contents of the programme, please contact

Gregor Baer

BSc student

“This minor is well structured as it first introduces basic economic concepts in the first block, upon which further lectures in the second block expand upon, allowing students with no background in economics to gain a solid foundation. The last course in the minor will give you the freedom to investigate a policy issue of choice, allowing you to dive deeper in an area of your interest than other courses usually allow. I personally enjoyed the minor a lot as it tackles many issues of relevance today, such as inherent inequalities in the pension’s scheme or side-effects of environmental regulations. I recommend the minor to everyone who might be interested in doing a master’s in economics or want to experience a different field of study for a while.”


Samenvatting Economics




1 semester (30 EC)


1 September


Economie, Recht en Bestuur
Gedrag en Maatschappij
Informatica, Wiskunde en Bedrijf


School of Business and Economics