Human nature is difficult to predict and notoriously capable of change and this makes Economics a particularly fascinating subject. Economists develop theories to understand how consumers, firms and governments are likely to behave in everyday life. The course is split into two main parts.
We begin by studying MICROECONOMICS. This is the study of individuals and firms operating in a variety of markets. In particular, we study the profit-maximising behaviour of firms and learn about costs, revenues and profits.
We then move on to MACROECONOMICS. This is the study of the British and International economy and covers many of the important issues that dominate the news on television and in the newspapers and magazines.
These topics include:
- Will Brexit benefit or hold back the UK?
- How will the UK be affected by a trade war between China and the USA?
- Has the government’s policy of austerity been a success or failure?
- Why is the UK’s productivity and wage growth lower than other developed countries?
- Will raising the minimum wage to a ‘living wage’ cause unemployment?
- Should we introduce higher taxes on alcohol to curb binge drinking among the young?
All of these issues are taught in the context of relevant economic theory and students are encouraged to read as widely as possible around the subject to enhance their understanding and knowledge. The department offers students an opportunity to subscribe to relevant magazines (Economics Today and the Economic Review) and recommends that quality newspapers are read regularly. Pupils are encouraged to use the internet to research sites such as the BBC news pages and The Guardian to find up to date information about issues such as the budget deficit and the climate emergency.
Why study this subject at A-Level?
Universities want students who can show good skills of analysis and evaluation, students who can build solid arguments based on evidence and defend their opinions and viewpoints, students who are knowledgeable about current affairs and confident to explain and express themselves. Economics, for this reason, is one of the stronger subjects for university applications.
There are many different career paths open to students of Economics: Students with an Economics background tend to be among the highest paid workers in the country. Other areas where Economics students can find work is as economists, statisticians and actuaries, business management, marketing and sales, accountancy, investment advisers and analysts, journalism, the Civil Service, financial services, banking and insurance.
Summary of the course
The course is split in to two significant areas. Unit One considers microeconomic elements, including economic decision making, markets and market failure. In this unit you will study the following ideas. a) economic methodology and the economic problem b) individual economic decision making c) price determination in a competitive market d) production, costs and revenue e) perfect competition, imperfectly competitive markets and monopoly f) the labour market g) the distribution of income and wealth: poverty and inequality h) the market mechanism, market failure and government intervention in markets.
The second unit is titled “The national and international economy” and considers the macroeconomic principles of Economics. a) the measurement of macroeconomic performance b) how the macroeconomy works: the circular flow of income, AD/AS analysis and related concepts c) economic performance d) financial markets and monetary policy e) fiscal policy and supply-side policies f) the international economy.
How is the qualification assessed?
Assessment consists of three exam papers all taken at the end of the second year, and therefore students will need to remember all two years’ work for this final exam.
Paper 1: Markets and Market Failure and Paper 2: National and International Economy both involve a written exam lasting 2 hours, split in to two sections: Section A – data response questions requiring written answers, choice of one from two, Section B – essay questions requiring written answers, choice of one from three.
Paper 3: Economic Principles and Issues includes a written exam lasting 2 hours, Section A: 30 multiple choice questions and Section B – a case study with three questions worth 10, 15 and 25 marks.
Given the mathematical elements of the course, applicants will require at least a Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics.