Economics is a fascinating subject because it includes the study of how people behave and interact with each other. The dynamic between consumers, manufacturers and government makes economics a vibrant topic. In Economics you’ll look at the fundamental forces which affect our lives, such as employment, prices, international trade and poverty. Economists are often in healthy debate with each other over these issues. It is this controversy which makes Economics lively and interesting and which allows you the opportunity to make your own judgements and form your own opinions. Experience suggests that the students who get the most out of the subject both in terms of their final grade and general level of enjoyment (yes, it is possible!), are those who feel sufficiently motivated to devote considerable time to study outside the classroom. Students who don’t find Economics ‘interesting enough’ to make use of their spare time in this way will certainly underachieve; they will also probably find the subject both tedious and difficult. It is therefore vital that any student contemplating the course should be honest as to whether or not they think it is right for them.
Economics is the study of one main problem: scarcity. This is the fact that the limited resources in the world cannot meet the unlimited demand created by the people of the world. This problem causes many further questions to be developed and Economics is involved in trying to answer some of these questions.
The Becket Sixth has chosen to follow the AQA Economics specification. AQA is the market leader in the current specifications and is expected to continue to be so for the new specifications, which begin in September 2015. This is because AQA is extremely well supported by external suppliers both for teacher resources and student support such as conferences, books and websites.
There is an emphasis on behavioural economics in the AQA specification, which many students will enjoy as this is a blend of Psychology and Economics; students will be excited by some of the ideas that are brought up by these theories and wider debates and challenges will be a theme of many lessons. Further information about behavioural economics is available in Tim Harford’s FT.com article: http://goo.gl/7cXSEO
The subject is not on offer in the lower school at the Becket and so entry to the course does not ask for a particular qualification in Economics. Therefore any student coming to the subject for the first time should not feel at any disadvantage. However, given the difficulties experienced by some students in grasping sometimes abstract concepts, at least 3 grade Bs at GCSE is required.
View our Survival Guide to Economics created by our sixth form students below
The A-Level course is made up of three main areas of focus:
- Markets and Market Failure
- National and International Economy
- Economic Principles and Issues.
By the end of the course, students should come out with a good grounding in Economics and this may encourage them to pursue the subject further at university or to enter any number of other areas, such as finance, accounting, management – or they may choose to use the subject as a strongly sought-after, well-respected A-Level to achieve a different goal.
How Will I Study?
Lessons are varied in their approach but an emphasis is placed on student involvement. The teacher provides a basic framework of key points but students are confronted with exercises that challenge them to fully appreciate the importance of these ideas. Such exercises may require them to build up additional notes, or crucially, to apply these ideas to new areas. Group work is a central feature of most lessons. Discussing ideas with peers is a good test of understanding as well as being an opportunity to compare values and opinions in what is a highly controversial subject. With such an approach it should be realised that the student is expected to make the best use of their time in class as well as during their private study. At no time should an Economics student claim they have no work to do.
Students are expected to take an active role in their study time out of class. Background work should be a normal part of study and students need to take a keen interest in real world economic developments as they occur over the period of the course. Regular reference to press and television news coverage is essential. The conscientious student will find this time consuming but links to the school’s learning gateway provide plenty of support. The whole course is taught by just one member of staff. This means students can gain access to staff help at most break times; such enquiries are encouraged.
Careers and Higher Education
A regular flow of successful candidates continue their studies with degrees either in economics or some related subject areas such as business studies or social policy. Alternatively, vocationally related degrees such as accountancy or banking may cover and build upon material which is included in an A level Economics course. The course covers areas that are useful for anyone wishing to follow a career in the business world be it with a large multinational or in self-employment.
One of the strengths of the subject is that it deals with issues that impinge upon all citizens both in this country and worldwide. We are all economic agents and as such the subject deals with material that is directly relevant to our every day existence. A greater appreciation of the economic forces at work not only helps the student to better understand the world in which they live, it also means they are more informed citizens when it comes to political decision making. In this sense economics can be seen as a life skill which can aid citizenship.