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Economics & Business Studies

Economics: Introduction to the Subject

Most people assume that Economics is about money, and indeed to some extent it is, but it is a much wider area of studies.  The subject is really about resources and decision-making, and studying Economics enables students to develop important skills, within a framework of knowledge related to how the economy works.

Economics at RGS is taught only in the sixth form, and the syllabus is the AQA linear (two-year) syllabus.

The two main areas of Economics are:

Micro-economics:

This is the study of decision-making by individuals and firms.  We all make choices about how to spend our money and time, and firms make choices about what to produce and what price to charge.  These decisions are sometimes rational, and sometimes influenced by subtle psychological forces.  One of the important new areas of Economics to be incorporated in the syllabus is that of Behavioural Economics, which overlaps significantly with Psychology and Sociology, and which studies how people behave in conditions of uncertainty and scarce resources.  We study how markets work, and how prices are set.  Why do houses in London cost ten times the price of houses in some other parts of the country?  Why do some skilled workers earn much less than others?   Why does the price of commodities such as oil vary so much, and what are the effects?

We also study market failures, where there is a case for government intervention in areas such as education, health care, pollution and a range of other important areas.  Markets rarely woprk perfectly, and there is a considerable amount of debate about how much government intervention is required.

Macro-economics:

This is the study of how the whole economy operates.  We make use of theoretical models which seek to explain how the whole economy works, and why it changes.  Major issues studied in this context are unemployment, economic growth, inflation, international trade, and government policy.  We also look at issues of inequality of income and wealth, and the problem of poverty.  Studying Macro-economics enables students to be well-informed about current affairs and political issues, and enables them to respond critically to politicians and news commentators.

The new syllabus involves a study of banking, finance and financial markets as well as economic behaviour from a psychological perspective.

Other subjects:

Economics combines well with many other A levels.  Psychology, Maths, History and Geography are obvious related subjects, but many people combine it with other science and arts subjects.  It is a useful bridging subject enabling students to avoid too much specialisation, so for example the reading and essay components are a useful addition for a student who is otherwise mainly concentrating on Maths and Science.  Mathematics at A Level is not a requirement for studying Economics at RGS (although it can be helpful).  However, most Economics degree courses at top universities do require Maths, and for the most competitive places such as Cambridge, Further Maths is required or at least extremely useful.

The perfect start to understanding how the real world worksCurrent Teacher
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