• A-level economics

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A-Level Economics

Background information about studying Economics

At AS-Level, the course gives a general introduction to the world of economics, with key words and modules on microeconomics and macroeconomics. One can expect to explore the notion of a market, studying topics such as demand and supply, elasticity and market failure. The macroeconomics unit gives an introduction into macroeconomic objectives (economic growth, inflation, unemployment and balance of payments), exchange rates, fiscal policy, monetary policy and supply side policy.

Microeconomics at A2-Level covers mainly business economics and the distribution of income. Areas of study is usually around market structures (monopoly, oligopoly and perfect competition), economic efficiency and the labour market. There are options for studying paricular industries, such as Transport, for the micro module.

A2-Level macroeconomics builds on ideas taught at AS-Level. The topics are covered in greater detail, and usually involve evaluating policy by using theory (for example, the Phillips Curve or monetarism).

What can I expect from studying Economics?

Difficulty

As in a case of any subject, the level of difficulty perceived by an individual varies. It requires a substantial amount of effort in order to understand the key concepts. This can be a huge put off at first, however if you do manage to overcome this stage, then it will become more straightforward.

Workload

Students would be expected to participate in class, be active as that’s the best way to learn (actually, this method can be applied to many others subjects, not only Economics). The introductory period might be slightly challenging, you may possibly be confused at some stages. Economics at A-level is all about understanding, therefore make sure you know relatively well what has been already been covered before heading to next chapter. Topics tend to relate one to another, so it will be harder to understand one without prior comprehension of the previous ones.

Required Individual Study

Apart from doing homework on a regular basis, I would strongly advise to read economics news in your free time. It’s not that hard. You can, for example, assign 15 minutes every morning to read some economics-related articles. BBC has a perfect section for Economics news. The language used isn’t sophisticated, not much of a jargon. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand everything at once. It takes time. Gradually you will realise that some issues keep arising every now and then.

So, to cut long story short – read economics news!

On another note, this is entirely down to preference, however many students find it helpful to read up on upcoming topics as a means of putting into perspective what they will be learning. For example if you are going to learn a topic next week, you may find it useful to read the chapter in your textbook relating to that subject. This isn't necessarily to give you a "head start" and make you a model student, it is just a way of learning certain vocabulary so your lesson will be more engaging.

How is it assessed?

Note that this information is correct for the AQA and Edexcel syllabi (starting from September 2008)

Exams (AQA & Edexcel)

AQA

AS:


Unit 1 - ECON1 — Markets and Market Failure


Weighting: 50% of AS, 25% of A2

Examination length: 1 hour 15 minutes

Section A: 25 compulsory multiple choice questions. Worth 25 marks.

Section B: One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 50 marks.

Total for paper: 75 marks (100 UMS)


Unit 2 - ECON2 — The National Economy


Weighting: 50% of AS, 25% of A2

Examination length: 1 hour 15 minutes

Section A: 25 compulsory multiple choice questions. Worth 25 marks.

Section B: One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 50 marks.

Total for paper: 75 marks (100 UMS)


A2:


Unit 3 - ECON3 — Business Economics and the Distribution of Income


Weighting: 25% of A2

Examination length: 2 hours

Section A: One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 40 marks. (One question will always relate to the global context and the other will relate to the European Union).

Section B: One essay question out of a choice of three questions, from three topic areas. Worth 40 marks.

Total for paper: 80 marks (100 UMS)


Unit 4 - ECON4 — The National and International Economy


Weighting: 25% of A2

Examination length: 2 hours

Section A: One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 40 marks. (One question will always relate to the global context and the other will relate to the European Union).

Section B: One essay question out of a choice of three questions, from three topic areas. Worth 40 marks.

Total for paper: 80 marks (100 UMS)


Edexcel

AS:


Unit 1 - Competitive Markets — How They Work and Why They Fail


Examination length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Supported multiple-choice questions where students write a short justification of why they chose that answer and/or why the other answers are incorrect. Worth 32 marks.

One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 48 marks.

Total for paper: 80 marks (100 UMS)


Unit 2 - Managing the Economy


Examination length: 1 hour 30 minutes

One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 50 marks.

Last question of data response will be open ended. Worth 30 marks.

Total for paper: 80 marks (100 UMS)


A2:


Unit 3 - Business Economics and Economic Efficiency


Examination length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Supported multiple-choice questions where students write a short justification of why they chose that answer and/or why the other answers are incorrect. Worth 32 marks.

One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 40 marks.

Total: 72 marks (80 UMS)


Unit 4 - The Global Economy


Examination length: 2 hours

One essay question with two parts from a choice of three topic areas. Worth 50 marks.

One data response question out of a choice of two questions. Worth 50 marks.

Total: 100 marks (120 UMS)


As you can see there are slightly different weightings between the units, i.e. 25%, 25%, 20% and 30%, for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4 respectively.



Coursework

There is no coursework.

Practicals

  • Anti-Monopoly is a boardgame that we played - it's the exact opposite of Classic Monopoly. The board starts out under a monopoly, and as an entreprenuer, it is your objective to buy up as many small stakes from the board in order to topple the existing monopoly. Can be quite weird to play at first hahaha!


Your a gimp

You're*

Field trips and excursions

Field trips would depend on the school or college, and are rare; although there are no obvious opportunities, there may be some to do with development or decline of industries

The best institutes for economics include London School of Economics, Oxford, Warwick, Durham etc. Most prestigious economic degrees (especially LSE) heavily favour candidates with further mathematics, so if you want to go on to take a degree on economics there, further maths should be one of your options. Economics can open many doors, including finance, consultancy, public sector work, etc.

User Opinions

Username: Javindo

What I like about studying this subject: It's not just about money! Many people get this idea that Economics is entirely down to analysing how money works. Economics is merely a word given to a science in which everything is encompassed and affected in every day life. I find it very challenging, engaging and interesting. I couldn't have picked a better third subject A level however that is only because I am planning on doing Law at university; many people have this as their first-choice A level as it is key in business and many other fields.

What I dislike about studying this subject: There isn't a lot I dislike about Economics except for the fact we have regular tests at my school! However I guess this is a means of encouraging us to learn on a more real-time basis rather than leaving it all to 2 weeks before the exam!


Username: T Finn

What I like about studying this subject:

Everything about Economics is brilliant. It is my favourite subject and I really enjoy learning about how our society operates as it can help you answer questions of your own. It has shown me a whole new way of thinking and analysing things that are occurring and I enjoy reading The Economist,

What I dislike about studying this subject: I don't really.


Username: Faye Hutchinson

What I like about studying this subject: I love economics. The best parts of it are that after two or three months of it, you'll probably know more than most UK Politicians, and 90% of the general population. Also, economics sort of applies to everything.. If you're interested in economics i would suggest that you read 'Freakonomics' by Steven Levitt, as this outlines the practical applications of economics wonderfully, and is easy to understand for beginners.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Not much! As more of a supply side economist - Yes, the dark side, my friends - I would prefer to be able to draw seperate LRAS and SRAS curves on my aggregate supply and demand diagram, but this is just the basis of another enjoyable debate, so - back to my origional point - not much.


Username: SweetChilliSauce

What I like about studying this subject: I initially took Economics because my school said it goes well with Edexcel Government and Politics, and they were right! You also learn terms that you can use in sentences and you're friends (and sometimes teachers) just blank out at your apparent intelligence. What I like about it though is now I *sort of* understand what's going on in my country, rather than relying on The Daily Mail or The Times to give me their bias opinions.

What I dislike about studying this subject: Nothing really... Unlike some other subjects, there isn't a tremendous work load. If you properly learn and revise the topics, then there's nothing to worry about. Oh yeah, the diagrams.... There's God knows how many. But if you can remember images, then Economics will be a breeze.


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