Head of Department: Mrs H Irwin
Specification: AQA

What is Economics?

There is no one universally accepted answer to the question “What is economics?” There are various definitions:

The Economist’s Dictionary of Economics defines economics as “The study of the production, distribution and consumption of wealth in human society.”

Wikipedia defines economics as: “Economics is a social science that studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses (Lionell Robbins, 1935). Economics is the study of the trade-offs involved when choosing between alternate sets of decisions.”

Economics is the study of how individuals and groups make decisions with limited resources as to best satisfy their wants, needs, and desires. We hear daily of unemployment, inflation, interest rates, productivity and the balance of payments. The state of the economy affects our current and future standard of living and has come to dominate the media.

The study of Economics examines these issues, explains the way the economy works and provides the basis to forecast what is likely to happen to the economy in the future. Economics is the discipline that investigates how society can make efficient choices so that we can maximise our living standards.

Studying Economics will enable pupils to:

  • develop an understanding of economic concepts and theories through a critical consideration of current economic issues, problems and institutions that affect everyday life
  • select, interpret and use appropriate data from a range of sources
  •  analyse, explain and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the market economy and the role of government within it
  •  develop a critical approach to economic models and methods of enquiry
  • Interpret and evaluate different types of data from multiple sources.

No prior knowledge of the subject is required. However:

Economists need to be good at working with figures. They should enjoy looking at a page of numbers and working out what they mean. Mathematical and information technology skills are essential. Therefore, it is recommended that pupils have attained GCSE Mathematics at grade A /A* and are studying Mathematics at AS or A2 level.

Economists need to be able to explain their ideas simply, in plain English, to non-specialists. They should not be swayed easily by the views of others.

Economists need to be decisive, logical, quick thinking and able to cope with pressure. Often they are only given a few minutes to make a decision based on information given to them.

At the end of the course pupil may wish to continue studying Economics at University. The UCAS database lists over 1000 UK degrees in economics. Economics can be studied alone or combined with a wide range of other subjects such as a language, banking and finance, Mathematics, Politics and Philosophy.