Economics - AS and A Level

Exam Board: EDEXCEL

Introduction to the Course

The course combines economic theory with application to real world problems. Economic theory involves modelling the economy and studying the behaviour of individual economic agents such as consumers and producers.

Entry Requirements

Standard entry requirements including at least Grade 6 in Mathematics and English language. GCSE Economics or Business Studies are useful, though not compulsory but at least Grade 6 is required if studied at GCSE. Studying Economics typically offers new challenges and a different ways of thinking as popularised by best seller books such as Freakonomics! Students should feel comfortable working with data; there is 20% mathematical content however this is rarely more demanding than calculating percentages.

Course Content

At a micro economic level, students study how markets work in areas such as commodity markets, transport, healthcare and education. This leads onto analysis of whether governments or markets should provide services (see the current debate about whether the railways would be better run if they were owned by the government). There is discussion about whether governments actually make markets work less efficiently, government failure (there might be even less investment in the railways because the government spends tax revenues on other priorities such as the NHS). In macroeconomics students are introduced to the workings of the economy where the links between different elements such as unemployment, inflation, economic growth and foreign trade are studied.

A key issue currently is the very high level of government debt and the debate about whether we should stimulate demand with tax cuts or whether we should cut government spending, some of which may result in the loss of key services. An interest in current affairs is critical for success in this subject – exam questions will cover a wide range of subjects which students can only answer if they are up to date with current events.

AS Level: The year 1 AS Level course has the same content as the A Level course (year 1) and therefore students can take the AS exam at the end of Year 1 whilst being taught in the A Level group.

A Level: This is a 2 year course with all module exams taken at the end of the 2 year period.

Future Career Progression

There is a specific shortage of academic economists in the universities at present because of the strong demand for economists elsewhere, mostly in the financial sector. Economics graduates are sought after by City firms and are ten times more likely to land financial jobs than graduates from other disciplines. Industry uses economists to predict growth, inflation etc. in the markets that they operate in. For example, Ford economists would be estimating the demand for cars whilst also estimating which economy would be growing strongly in the future so that they can exploit this. The government uses economists to plan government policy while the Bank of England is a big employer in its role of regulating the financial sector.