Economics A Level - Block A & C at Gravesend Grammar School
Economics is the study of making choices. It is about how, as individuals and groups, we get the things we want to buy and the services we need and want. From a £5 flight to Barcelona to a penny off income tax, from a National Health Service that’s free at the point of use to the price of a can of beans – Economics helps people understand why things are the way they are and why changes happen. Economics isn’t just about money and it isn’t just about the decisions made by governments or big business. It is about making choices between different uses of limited resources – and most of the resources we need to use in our lives are limited in some way or another. By the end of this course students develop an understanding of current economic issues, problems and institutions that affect everyday life, apply economic concepts and theories in a range of contexts and appreciate their value and limitations in explaining real world phenomena. Students will learn to analyse, explain and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the market economy and the role of Government within it.
Students will develop an understanding of, and an insight into, microeconomics (understanding the behaviour of individual people and firms) and macroeconomics (understanding the behaviour of the economy as a whole). The two are taught concurrently, by two different teachers, across the two years of study.
The core content has been divided up in to eleven key areas, as detailed below:
1. Economic methodology and the economic problem
2. Price determination in a competitive market
3. Perfect competition, imperfectly competitive markets and monopoly
4. The labour market
5. Poverty and inequality
6. Market failure and government intervention
7. National and International Economy
8. Circular flow of income and AD-AS analysis
9. Financial markets and monetary policy
10. Fiscal policies and supply-side policies
11. Economic growth and development
Before starting your study of A Level Economics, it is difficult to relate these quite abstract topics to the definition of Economics as “the study of making choices”. However, this is where the Social Science categorisation of Economics comes in to enable each of them to relate back to the core definition. Despite the complex scientific methodology involved, all of the content revolves around human decision-making and the consequences of those decisions with regard to economic welfare. As an economist, your role is to assess the impact of those decisions and evaluate the overall positive or negative impact on welfare and society.
Economics is an academically demanding subject; good numeracy and literacy skills are essential. The course involves writing essays, data interpretation and drawing diagrams. To demonstrate the essential mix of quantitative and qualitative skills students are required to have at least a GCSE Grade B in economics or an average GCSE score of 6.5 (new levels) if GCSE Economics has not been studied at GCSE.
The new A level is assessed by a combination of data response, essay and objective multi-choice questions. Skills of data interpretation, analysis and evaluation are essential. 20% of the exam marks are based on quantitative skills and 80% on qualitative skills i.e. writing. The A Level is assessed by 3 x 2 hour exam papers, each of which included the different styles of question. One exam paper is based on microeconomics, one on macroeconomics and the final one on everything in the new specification.
This year, more than 50% of our A Level students have applied to university to read for an Economics or combined Economics degree. Many universities regard it as a “core” subject and, as such, it helps to access a wide range of degrees at the top universities. As a Social Science, Economics can often provide a bridge between maths/sciences and the arts and thus lends itself particularly well to joint honours degrees. Students often decide to progress in to the world of Finance with career objectives such as stockbrokers or market analysts.
Last year students took part in ‘Target 2.0’, a National Competition run by the Bank of England; a team of four students develop their own monetary policy for the U.K. under current economic conditions. They present their policy to the Bank and are judged against other top school teams. Students also had the opportunity to attend “Economics in Action”, a conference day at the University of London, plus the annual visit to the Bank of England to investigate UK inflation. The department is also currently planning an activity-packed trip to New York and Washington in October 2016.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Gravesend Grammar School directly.