Economics is a fascinating subject that revolves around the study of how people, firms and governments make decisions; what choices they face, what data they use to make their decisions, how they respond to each other and whether or not their end-decisions are efficient and effective. It is a subject that is discussed on the 'front page' of the news every day and affects all of us.
In Year 12, students focus on both Microeconomic and Macroeconomic topics that affect the UK economy. Microeconomics addresses issues such as: "what features of the market cause house prices to be so high?"; Can pollution effectively be controlled?"; Should governments intervene to reduce the over-consumption of sugar that leads to diabetes and obesity....or leave the allocation of a country's scarce resources to be distributed via a private market-place?"
Year 12 Macroeconomic issues covered include: Why does the Bank of England have a target for inflation and how does inflation affect businesses and consumers?; What happens if people decide to spend more?; Why is unemployment so high....& what happens if it is too low?
In Year 13, students build on their knowledge and apply their growing analytical skills to understand broader, more global topics: Why the Eurozone and European Union were created and whether they are still 'fit for purpose'; What was the appropriate monetary and fiscal policy in the aftermath of the 2007 Global Financial Crisis; How, and in what circumstances, should a firm prioritise growing its market share or maximising its profits?; Why are trade unions less powerful in wage-setting negotiations than in the 1970s ....& what impact does this have on the economy?
Economics is formally assessed as a Linear A Level i.e. at the end of Year 13 only. The AQA exam comprises 3* 2 hour papers: Paper 1 (Micro); Paper 2 (Macro); Paper 3 (synoptic). All three papers require the student to base their answers on previously unseen articles (mini case-studies), as well as their prior knowledge. The majority of the questions require essay-format answers, supported by the use of diagrams, but 20% of marks are based on quantitative calculations (i.e. maths). There are 30-question type multiple choice questions in Paper 3 covering all Macro and Micro topics from the 2 year syllabus, which requires plenty of calculation. The assessment format described above therefore requires fluent reading and logical writing skills, but also confident mathematical skills.
As most students have not studied Economics at GCSE, a high level of skill in GCSE English, Mathematics, Sciences and other Social Sciences suggest a good 'fit' with A Level Economics due to its technical nature. It is recommended that students gain at least a B (6) grade in English and Mathematics at GCSE to be able to cope with the demands of the course, as well as enjoy it. Students must be prepared to read news articles frequently outside the classroom and be able to converse readily using technical language.