The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

Economics

Head of Department: Mrs M O’Fril

Why study Economics?

Anyone who is interested in knowing more about human behaviour will find economics fascinating. Economists study how individuals and groups of people make choices about what to do with their limited resources. Economics is, therefore, not just about money, business and the stock market. Though these are important aspects of the subject, economics also deals with wider social and environmental issues including climate change, globalisation, sustainable development and the distribution of income and wealth. Students of economics develop a host of practical and transferable skills that benefit them in education and in the world of work. These include critical investigation, analytical thinking, oral and written communication, numeracy, research, ICT and handling of data. What’s more, the potential earnings for students with a degree in Economics is among the highest for all graduates, and there are currently shortages of qualified economists.

GCE Economics AS & A2

The CCEA GCE Economics specification (teaching from September 2016) helps students gain an insight into some of the major issues facing society today. It encourages students to:

  • develop an interest and enthusiasm for the study of economics;
  • appreciate the subject’s contribution to the understanding of the wider economic and social environment;
  • develop an understanding of a range of concepts and an ability to use these concepts in a variety of different contexts;
  • use an enquiring, critical and thoughtful approach to the study of economics and an ability to think as an economist; and
  • develop skills, qualities and attitudes that will equip them for the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities of adult and working life.

AS/A2 Content

The GCE Economics specification is available at two levels: AS and A Level. Students can take the AS course as a final qualification or as the first half of the A Level qualification. Students who wish to obtain a full A level qualification must also complete the second half of the course, which is referred to as A2. The course comprises four units: two at AS level and two at A2 level. These are outlined in the table below:

Areas of study

Unit

Areas of Study

AS 1:

Markets and Market Failure

In this unit, you will study the way markets work. You will examine market forces and how supply and demand work together to provide resources for local, national and international markets. You will also examine why markets fail and possible ways of correcting this failure.

AS 2:

Managing the National Economy

You will examine changes in the economy, and the effectiveness of government policies. You will look at issues such as unemployment, inflation and economic growth.

A2 1:

Business Economics

This unit builds on the AS content, and will help you to understand the economic behaviour in competitive and non-competitive markets. It will investigate how firms grow by examining organic growth, mergers and takeovers.

A2 2:

Managing the Economy in a Global World

In this unit you will study the significance of globalisation, international trade, the balance of payments and exchange rates. You will also develop an understanding of the factors that influence growth and development of developing countries.

Assessment

Unit

Assessment Description

Weighting

AS 1:

Markets and Market Failure

1 hour 30 minute examination paper which includes short answer questions, one data response and a choice of essay questions

Worth 50% of AS

20% of A level

AS 2:

Managing the National Economy

1 hour 30 minute examination paper which includes short answer questions, one data response and a choice of essay questions

Worth 50% of AS

20% of A level

A2 1:

Business Economics

2 hour examination paper which includes short answer questions, case study questions and a choice of essay questions

Worth 30% of A level

A2 2: Managing the Economy in a Global World

2 hour examination paper which includes short answer questions, case study questions and a choice of essay questions

Worth 30% of A level

Assessment for each of the two AS units consists of a three part written examination. Part A, which accounts for 25 of the 80 marks, requires students to answer a number of short questions. In part B students complete a structured data response question worth 35 marks. In part C, which is worth 20 marks, students complete one open response question from a choice of two.

Assessment for each of the A2 units consists of a three part written examination. Part A, which accounts for 20 of the 90 marks, requires students to answer a number of short questions. In part B students complete a structured case study question worth 40 marks. In part C, which is worth 30 marks, students complete one open response question from a choice of two.

There is no coursework.

Useful resources: Websites

www.tutor2u.net

www.bizedf.co.uk

www.ccea.org.uk

www.bbc.co.uk

www.statistics.gov.uk

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

www.bankofengland.co.uk

www.oecd.org

www.ifs.org.uk

Recommended Reading for Economics / Management / PPE

Source Tutor2u_updated 2018

  1. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang) – challenges conventional thinking
  2. Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance: (Ian Goldin & Chris Kutarna)
  3. Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built (Duncan Clark) – The rise of the Chinese corporate giant
  4. Almighty Dollar (Dharshini David) – follows the journey of a single $ to show how the global economy works
  5. Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy (Haskel and Westlake)
  6. Capitalism: 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know (Jonathan Portes) – compact and excellent reference material
  7. Choice Factory (Richard Shotton) – a story of 25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy
  8. Doughnut Economics (Kate Raworth) – challenges much of orthodox thinking in the subject
  9. Drunkard’s Walk (Leonard Mlodinow) – a brilliant history of Maths with lots of relevant applications
  10. Economics for the Common Good (Jean Tirole) – applied micro from a recent Nobel prize winner
  11. GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History (Professor Diane Coyle) – really good on the GDP / well-being debate
  12. Grave New World: (Stephen King) – Former head of Econ at HSBC looks at the fracturing global economy
  13. Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today (Linda Yueh) – perspectives on contemporary issues
  14. Growth Delusion: The Wealth and Well-Being of Nations (David Pilling) – antidote to gospel of GDP
  15. Inequality (Anthony Atkinson) – a superb book on one of the defining economic/political issues of the age
  16. Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us (Sharman and Fishman)
  17. Limits of the Market: The Pendulum Between Government and the Market (Paul De Grauwe)
  18. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics (Richard Thaler) – a truly superb biography
  19. Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity with Nature: (Professor Paul Collier) – development classic
  20. Poor Economics: Rethinking Ways to Fight Global Poverty (Banerjee & Duflo) – development economics

Higher Education

Economics opens up a wide range of opportunities for further and higher education and interesting and rewarding careers. It also combines well with other social sciences and the humanities, with foreign languages, with mathematics and sciences and with vocational subjects such as engineering, manufacturing and business. It is also very useful for those thinking of careers such as accountancy, business management, banking, finance, government services and professions such as teaching and law.

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