Economics is the study of resource allocation. In short: who gets what, how much, and why? The subject is divided into two broad areas: microeconomics and macroeconomics.
The former addresses issues to do with the allocation of resources within individual markets, with the focus on the operation of these markets, the misallocation of resources (market failure), and government intervention. Within this, there is considerable attention paid to consumer behaviour (including elements of psychology) and the theory of the firm.
This forms a significant part of the second year of study and is concerned with the costs, revenues and profits of firms operating under different market structures. The macroeconomics component considers the performance of economies as a whole (economic growth, international trade, financial markets, economic development, unemployment, inflation) and the policy tools to help improve this (government expenditure, trade policy, taxation, monetary policy, regulation). The focus is initially on the UK economy but, as students grow more confident in the analytical tools at their disposal, a broader, more complex range of economies is introduced, covering emerging markets (e.g. China, India), LEDCs, and developed economies whose structures and performances contrast with that of the UK.
The department follows the AQA specification, as this offers the opportunity to investigate the most up-to-date economic theory (behavioural economics, post-crash financial markets) in the greatest detail, whilst retaining the best of more
The subject will be of interest to a wide range of students. It is possible to approach Economics from either a humanities or a mathematical perspective. The course combines the critical skills of scientific analysis and applies them to human contexts to create a challenging social science. The A Level course itself is not overtly mathematical – students need only a reasonable grasp of simple calculations (e.g. % change), basic graphs, and an ability to analyse data, but an aptitude for abstract conceptualisation, such as might be encountered in Mathematics or the Sciences, is vital.
However, studying Economics at university requires significantly more formal maths (largely statistics and calculus). As such, many universities have A Level Mathematics as a requirement for single honours Economics courses. Some strongly favour those with Further Mathematics – e.g. LSE and Cambridge. There are, however, a growing number of courses in Economics that do not have the same mathematical requirement, so those without A Level Mathematics are not disadvantaged.