Economics is a social science that looks at wealth, income and the reasons behind why economic agents (such as producers, consumers and governments) make the decisions that they do. As such, it examines certain elements of human behaviour and studies the production and consumption of goods and services. With the goal of determining how these resources can not only be best distributed, but also satisfy the competing desires of governments, consumers and business.
Most people give a passing thought to the fact that they are already part of the global economic system, yet despite that, we all play our part on a day-to-day basis. Whether that’s by spending money on the latest must-have gadget that costs double what it took to manufacture, worrying about the increasing price of food, having to pay more for your Uber trip during peak times, or even wondering why some are far richer than you.
When you study economics, the reasons for all of these things start to become clear. You’ll understand why prices fluctuate and change, why certain companies have the upper hand over their competitors, what happens with your taxes, how laws and legislation passed by governments can shape consumer spending, how seemingly unrelated changes in society like global warming and an ageing population can have a big impact on the economy of a country.
By studying economics you’ll be instilled with the skills of learning how to understand and analyse complex issues, problem solve, interpret data and statistics, formulate strategies, researching topics in depth, write well written and structured essays. These are all highly valuable skills that are transferable across different subjects, and in part makes Economics a good complement to other subjects such as the sciences, mathematics, politics, history, geography and languages.
And last, but not least Economics is an intellectually stimulating and rewarding subject that universities tend to hold in high esteem.
Economics at Key Stage 5
The Economics Edexcel course is divided into four themes. Students study themes 1 and 2 in Year 12 and themes 3 and 4 in Year 13:
- Introduction to markets and market failure
- The UK economy - performance and policies
- Business behaviour and the labour market
- A global perspective
The Economics A level course is also broadly divided across two central topics:
- Microeconomics – considers how a market economy works in terms of allocating scarce resources and the circumstances whereby this sometimes breaks down (market failure). We also look at how firms make decisions regarding how much they produce and what price they charge. This section also considers how markets may fail to allocate resources properly – e.g. cigarettes and junk food tend to be over-produced and over-consumed in a market economy leading to increased strain on the National Health Service (NHS). We look at how the government may intervene in different markets (e.g. by taxing cigarettes or introducing a new tax on sugary drinks) to reduce market failure.
- Macroeconomics – looks at the policies the Government and the Central Bank (Bank of England) use to meet their economic objectives, such as reducing unemployment, increasing economic growth and reducing the national debt. As the course progresses, we look at the role of the global economy and consider how countries are increasingly interdependent on one another for trade and general economic well-being (i.e. globalisation). We also look at the reasons why some countries become very rich while others remain very poor and the policies that less developed countries can adopt to try and improve their long-term economic development. In this section of the course we also consider how emerging economies such as China are shifting the global balance of power.
It should be noted that as there is a high level of mathematical content in Economics, we assume students will come prepared with a basic level of numerical and problem-solving skills, such as being able to calculate percentages and draw and interpret graphs. Students should also have an interest in current affairs and actively watch the news and read newspapers.
It may be helpful to know that most, if not all universities require students to have studied A-Level mathematics for entry to an Economics degree course. If you think that Economics is a subject you may wish to study at university you should seriously consider taking A level Mathematics alongside Economics.
At Stoke Newington School & Sixth Form we take pride in offering our students the chance to take part in a wealth of extra-curricular activities to help enrich their learning.
Adam Smith Institute: Several student conferences and evening lectures are held by the Adam Smith Institute throughout the year. The programmes are designed to mesh in with A-level syllabuses in politics and economics. Speakers deliberately pitch their talks at a standard of difficulty and technicality that will be comprehensible, but challenging, to students studying A level, whilst challenging attendees and introducing some new ideas. Click here for more information.
Bank of England: A visit from a Back of England representative, to deliver a talk on what the Bank of England does that’s focused on the Economics A level syllabus. Usually including in-depth information about a different subject each year. Click here for more information.
PolEcon Conference: Each autumn PolEcon UK organises their A level Economics student conference. This one-day event hosts a number of high profile speakers consisting of journalists, MPs, professors and A-level examiners. The talks generally consist of pertinent and currently relevant topics that offer a deeper insight than students could hope to gain from just the classroom. Click here for more information.
Career and Future Pathways
By studying Economics at SNS students will be equipped with an outstanding knowledge of economics; from how it impacts the success or failure of businesses, fashions governmental policy, or even causes global markets to collapse. This will stand you in good stead for degrees in subjects related to economics, like Law, Business, Finance, Accounting, Politics, Economics and Mathematics. You could easily progress to a career in government helping to forge new economic policy, working in the stock market or the World Bank. Perhaps you might want to start up your own business, or become a lawyer or journalist. Whatever you decide, with an A level Economics in your hand, the sky is the limit.
KPMG’s 360 Programme: The school has a link with KPMG, one of the world’s leading financial services firm. KPMG offer a range of school leaver entry programmes aimed at A-level students. Sixth Form students from SNS have a strong track record in securing these highly competitive places e.g. one student from SNS secured a place on one of these programmes and now work at KPMG’s Canary Wharf headquarters.