Course 2023-2024 a.y.


Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Class timetable
Exam timetable
Go to class group/s: 31
CLMG (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - M (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - IM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - MM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - AFC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - CLELI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - ACME (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - EMIT (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - GIO (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - DSBA (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - PPA (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01) - FIN (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Synchronous Blended: Lessons in synchronous mode in the classroom (for a maximum of one hour per credit in remote mode)

Suggested background knowledge

To follow the course well, you should have some basic knowledge about solving constrained and unconstrained optimization problems, integral calculus and probability theory (especially continuous random variables). Furthermore, you should be familiar with basic microeconomic concepts such as General Equilibrium, and basic econometric concepts such as regression analysis and instrumental variables.

Mission & Content Summary


Globalization is a fascinating phenomenon – complex, interesting and constantly evolving - with important implications for economic policy and people's livelihoods. Brexit, the "trade war" between the United States and China, and the disruptions created by the Covid-19 pandemic are just the most recent examples of how international economic integrations affects veryday life. This course examines the causes and consequences of international trade and investment building on workhorse models and recent empirical evidence. It investigates why nations trade, what they trade, and how trade affects aggregate welfare and inequality. One of the great features of research in international trade is the interplay between theoretical models, rigorous empirical analysis and the use of quantitative methods. Theoretical models discipline our thinking and guide our empirical analysis. Empirical evidence guides the development of models and helps us distinguish between different economic mechanisms. Throughout the course we will put particular emphasis on this interplay between theoretical and empirical work. This course aims to familiarize students with the newest methodologies and findings in the field of international trade. Because of its methodological aspects, it may be particularly interesting for students thinking about a research career.


  • The History of International Trade since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Ricardian Trade Theory, from Ricardo to Eaton-Kortum.
  • Heckscher-Ohlin Trade Theory.
  • Increasing Returns and the New Trade Theory.
  • Firm Heterogeneity: the Melitz model and its applications.
  • New empirical insights on trade, development and inequality.
  • Selected topics from current research in international trade and economic geography

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Define the concept of comparative advantage and understand how it shapes trade patterns.
  • Describe the main reasons for international trade and their relative importance in reality.
  • Understand the effects international trade has on inequality.
  • Explain the methodology used by modern economic models to quantify the gains from trade and the effects of changes in trade costs.
  • Summarize the main insights obtained by models which introduce firm heterogeneity in international trade.
  • Discuss the empirical strategies used to isolate a causal effect of international trade on national income and inequality.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Solve the workhouse models of international trade.
  • Analyze their main properties and comparative statics, both analytically and using specialized software (e.g. MATLAB).
  • Evaluate and argument using a rigourous economic model and mathematical proofs.
  • Develop an empirical strategy to assess the impact of international trade on economic outcomes.
  • Read and critically discuss frontier research in international trade.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Group assignments


Regular problem sets allow students to apply the knowledge acquired during the lectures. These problem sets consist in theoretical and empirical exercises, which are to be solved either analytically or using a computer. They can be done in groups, and count towards the final grade.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


The assessment for this course is based on problem sets and a final exam.

1. Problem sets can be completed in groups of up to three students, and count for 30% of the final grade, if and only if the problem set grade is higher than the final exam grade. Hence, submitting the problem sets is optional.


2. A group presentation of up to three students counts for 20% of the final grade, if and only if the grade is higher than the final exam grade. Hence, doing a presentation is optional.


3. The final exam counts for 50%, 70%, 80% or a 100% of the final grade, depending on whether the grade in the final exam is higher or lower than the grade of the presentation and/or the problem set.

Teaching materials


There is no textbook for this course. However, two books may be useful to you if you want more information, or a different perspective on the main subjects:

  • Robert Feenstra, “Advanced International Trade: Theory and Evidence”, Princeton University Press, 2003.
  • Elhanan Helpman, “Understanding Global Trade”, Harvard University Press, 2011.
Last change 11/12/2023 23:51