Course syllabus


ENM140 / FIM784 Game theory and rationality lp2 HT19 (7.5 hp)

Course is offered by the department of Space, Earth and Environment

Contact details

Kristian Lindgren (Examiner, lecturer, project supervisor) 

Susanne Pettersson (Teaching assistant, project supervisor) 

Rasmus Einarsson (Teaching assistant, project supervisor)

Course purpose


The aim of this course is to give an introduction to game theory and evolutionary models within the field, in order to inspire and engage the students so that they can identify and explore game-theoretic dilemmas or situations during the studies as well as in their future work-life. This is achieved through examining basic game-theoretic concepts including the concept of rationality. The students, typically at the end of their undergraduate studies, are tasked individually as well as in group with acquiring knowledge about a series of game-theoretic applications. We focus on the effects of individual rationality on collective outcomes, as well as the resulting behavior of agents with different strategies in a large population. We cover theory of general principles of rational action and examine known limitations on how well this describes human behavior in reality. Secondary aims include getting hands-on experience of modelling in a game-theoretic context as well as training in reading and presenting scientific articles. The course offers students a possibility to deepen their understanding of their subject area through project-based studies of applications within their respective field.


Game theory is the scientific study of strategic interaction between rational agents, involving analysis of phenomena such as cooperation and conflict in a wide range of biological, economic and social systems. Game theory and its extensions are continuously applied to understand situations such as climate negotiations, how plants grow their roots and distribute seeds under competition, to warfare and auctions.
The content of the course will be influenced by the students attending it (i.e. other topics may be added to the following list). Topics covered in previous years' version of the course include:
Basic game-theoretic concepts, theory and principles of rational decision-making, backward induction and the rationality paradox, analysis of repeated interaction, tragedy of the commons, evolutionary game theory, public good games, agent-based models in economics, behavioral economics and the environment, bargaining theory and dynamic games.


Lectures and seminars are held each week on

  • Monday at 10:00-11:45
  • Wednesday at 10:00-11:45
  • Wednesday at 13:15-15:00

Detailed information on each lecture  LecturePlan.pdf


Lecture notes

Lecture 1, Monday 4 November: 

GTR-introduction-ABM-2019 slides.pdf


Course literature

The main course book is Kevin Leyton-Brown and Yoav Shoham, Essentials of Game
Theory: A Concise, Multidisciplinary Introduction (2008).
The book can be downloaded free of charge through Chalmers’ library: direct link

Selected chapters and examples may be distributed from Herbert Gintis, Game Theory
Evolving: A Problem-Centered Introduction to Modeling Strategic Interaction (Second
Edition, 2009). The book is available as ebook at Chalmers’ library (direct link here).  A
few pages from each chapter are also available on Gintis’ own web page

The following video lectures in game theory may be worth checking out: 

Other course materials, preparations for seminars, etc., are provided in Modules.

Course design

Individual assignments

There are two individual assignments in the course:
1. Formulate a game idea as possible basis for a project
2. Design and implement strategies for a game tournament
Instructions for these are given in separate documents in Assignment 1 and Assignment 2 .

Mandatory midterm exam
There will be a mandatory midterm exam that contributes to your grade in the course. There is a minimum passing score that you have to reach to pass the course. Please see Midterm exam for a
separate document with further instructions, a study guide, and example questions.

Group work
All students will be part of a group. Each group will do the following things: (1) prepare
and lead a seminar for half the class, (2) work on a modeling and simulation project,
and (3) provide peer-review feedback on another group’s draft project report. More details on how to form a group in GeneralCourseInfo.pdf

Student-led seminars
Each group will prepare and lead a 45-minute seminar. All group members must take
active part in the work. Detailed instructions are given in Student-led seminar

A major part of the course (40-50%; 80-100 hours) is a game theory project, involving
modeling, simulation and analysis of a model selected by the project group. As a part of
the project work, your group will also provide peer-review comments on one other group’s
preliminary project report. Detailed instructions are given in Project.

Changes made since the last occasion

For the student-led seminars the student groups will be divided in two meta-groups, with mandatory attendance to all seminars in their meta-group. A list of recommended subjects for the Student-led seminars will be available. 

Learning objectives and syllabus

After completed course the student should be able to:

  •  formulate a game given a specific strategic interaction of interest within their own discipline
  •  summarize and present game-theoretic literature corresponding to that assigned during the course
  • define and apply models of decision-making agents with actions, interactions and strategies
  • construct, implement and simulate a set of their own strategies that will compete in a computer-based tournament
  • describe and explain two basic theories of rationality and their known limitations
  • use different techniques to find the Nash equilibria in games
  • differentiate between and apply extensive and normal (or strategic) form games
  • compare and reflect upon the expected outcome from the backward induction principle with situations in real life and the limitations it highlights for the use of the game theory and the concept of rationality
  • eliminate strategies from a game based on domination arguments
  • identify, analyze and argue about the existence of social dilemmas, such as the tragedy of the commons and public goods games including examples of natural, economic and social origin
  • define and apply the concepts of Pareto optimality
  • define and solve for mixed-strategy equilibrium
  • differentiate between equilibrium in game theory and stable strategies in evolutionary game theory

Official syllabus in the Student portal

Examination form

Grading and compulsory attendance
To get a passing grade you need to complete the compulsory course components:

  • Attendance on all student-led seminars in your meta-group, including your
    own seminar.
  • Attendance on both guest lectures.
  • The two individual assignments.
  • Oral presentation of preliminary project results, and attendance on 50% of the other groups' presentations.
  • Submission of a draft and peer review of one of the other group's draft.
  • Submission of a final project report, including the contribution report.

All assignments, peer-review, presentations and other duties must be done in time. If
there are very special reasons a separate examination may be possible to arrange. If you
have such a need, please let us know as soon as possible.

More information on grading criteria and deadlines are found in the document GeneralCourseInfo.pdf.


Course summary:

Date Details