Economics is concerned with the key issues facing us today, including globalisation, pollution and poverty. It is essentially about choice: why different sorts of people and groups of people, such as governments, have to make choices; the choices that they make, and the consequences of those choices. The work of economists transforms our lives – if you are a firm, consumer, worker, homeowner or the government you are concerned with, and affected by, economics. Economics teaches students to think logically and to use theories to understand how economies operate. You will be taught methods used by economists and how to understand issues such as inflation, unemployment, pollution, demand and supply, exchange rates, interest rates, and the difficult decisions the UK Government face when they attempt to steer the economy in a chosen direction.
Not a day goes by without issues relating to economics being reported in the media:
- ‘The UK’s recession will be long and deep’
- ‘Worst economic downturn since 1945’
- ‘Government debt now over £2 trillion’
- ‘Passengers to pay pollution tax on flights’
- ‘The value of the pound plummets against the Euro’
- ‘Price of petrol rises to over £1.50 a litre’
- ‘Exports fall as global slump tightens its grip’
- ‘UK house prices start to rise again’
- ‘Bank of England slashes interest rates to record low of 0.1%’
Studying economics can be compared to studying medicine. Medical students learn about the human body, what can go wrong and how to remedy it. Economics students learn how an efficient economy, and markets in the economy, should work; how market failure can occur and how governments can seek to improve economic performance.
A level Economics requires a reasonable level of numeracy, but it is not mathematical. It has a fair amount of conceptual thinking, with the main skill being the ability to analyse economic data, interpret graphs and tables, identify trends and explain these using economic theory, often through diagrams. The ability to see how one economic policy (e.g. low inflation) may affect other parts (e.g. employment) is paramount. This requires a clear mind and an ability to think and analyse logically and to write good English. The course is considered to be a ‘gold standard’ – an academic course that is well respected and liked by universities.