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Economics AS & A Level at Biddenham Upper School and Sports College

Course description

AS and A level Economics aims to give an insight into key issues in the news affecting everyday life. The goal is to understand the forces driving things like the price of oil, exchange rates and the level of unemployment in an economy. Students enjoy Economics because it is contemporary and rooted in the real world, but at the same time it is always closely related to a clearly explained set of economic theory that uses statistics and other quantitative methods to support and develop ideas.

The subject is split into two main sections, microeconomics and macroeconomics. Whereas macro looks at the big issues affecting the economy as a whole (unemployment, inflation, growth and so on), micro looks at a smaller scale; the pricing of individual products like oil or gold; the salaries paid to different people, and the reasons for any differences. Students also study the work of some key Economic theorists such as Friedrich Hayek, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.

The subject looks at the reasons why changes occur, and builds models to help analyse changes. Hence a student having studied Economics would understand clearly why prices of oil, copper, gold, silver and wood fluctuate. They would understand the causes of unemployment in advanced economies, and why the UK economy has been slower to recover from the global credit crunch than many others. They would understand why some countries are so much richer than others, and what can be done about it. They may also feel qualified to voice an opinion about the result of the vote in the EU referendum!

Taken together, micro and macroeconomics give a complete understanding of the economy as a whole that will be valuable in career terms as well as bringing an increased understanding of the news!

Course content

The Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Economics A is structured into four themes and consists of three externally examined papers that must be taken in the same year (each paper is 120 minutes). It is a two year course.

Students will need to apply their knowledge and understanding to both familiar and unfamiliar contexts in the assessments and demonstrate an awareness of current economic events and policies.

Theme 1: Introduction to markets and market failure
Theme 2: The UK economy – performance and policies

(Themes 1 & 2 are identical to themes 1 & 2 of the AS course and will be taught in the first year so that all students have the option of taking the AS examination)

Theme 3: Business behaviour and the labour market
This theme develops the microeconomic concepts introduced in Theme 1 and focuses on business economics.

Students will develop an understanding of:

  • business growth
  • business objectives
  • revenues, costs and profits
  • market structures
  • labour market
  • government intervention.

Theme 4: A global perspective
This theme develops the macroeconomic concepts introduced in Theme 2 and applies these concepts in a global context. Students will develop an understanding of:

  • international economics
  • poverty and inequality
  • emerging and developing economies
  • the financial sector
  • role of the state in the macroeconomy

Entry requirements

Economics is not an easy option so consequently a ‘B’ at GCSE English is required PLUS a ‘C’ at GCSE Mathematics. There may be some negotiation in special circumstances.

Anyone with an interest in knowing more about the way the world works. Students take Economics in combination with a very wide array of other subjects – everything ranging from Art and English Literature at one end to Further Maths and Physics at the other.

A common misconception is that a strong mathematical background is important for the A level – this is not true; an ability to understand graphs and correlation is the only mathematical requirement. Beyond this, all that is needed is an ability to argue a case, to compare theory with reality and observe the differences, but these are skills needed for almost any academic AS/A level.

Assessment

At Biddenham we follow the Edexcel A course. In September 2015 we started the new specification in line with recent changes in post 16 education. In September 2016 all students will be completing the two year ‘A’ level programme although there may be the option of entering the AS examination in the summer of the first year.

Future opportunities

Whether or not you go on to read an Economics degree, Economics is well regarded by universities as a rigorous A level, because of the analytical skills that it teaches. The model based approach of the subject gives a good mental framework for almost any subsequent degree.

Statistically, those students who do take a degree in Economics on average command higher starting salaries out of university, and are more likely to make it into the 'elite' graduate jobs in areas such as management consultancy.

Further information

Course contact: Ms H Rose, helen.rose@biddenham.beds.sch.uk or follow us on Twitter - @BISGovPolEcon

Examination board: Edexcel

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Biddenham Upper School and Sports College directly.

Last updated date: 04 November 2016

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