A Level Economics

 

What is it about at sixth form level? 

We have finitely many resources. What should we produce? How should we produce it? For whom should it be produced? Economics seeks to answer these basic but profound questions about the creation and allocation of goods. The familiar and dominant paradigm today is the market. Where there is free trade and a free flow of information, the laws of supply and demand will ensure optimum pricing. Such is the theory. Some would argue that the manifest disparities between rich and poor across the world show that it does not work in practice. Nor too, they would add, does it address the ‘side effects’ of production and consumption. The phone-maker may find a happy market of phone-buyers but what should be done about the pollution the phone factory produces? Ought governments to intervene? If so, to what degree?

By studying Economics at A level, you will consider issues such as these in depth. You will look at the operation of markets on a national and international scale and think about their virtues and vices. You will consider how businesses function and the role of the financial sector in a society. The course will leave you with a clear understanding of the complex forces that shape our society in the context of wider social and political themes.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will look at two themes. Theme 1 (Markets and Market Failure) focuses on microeconomic concepts. You will look at: the nature of economics; how markets work; market failure; and government intervention. Theme 2 (UK Economy – Performance & Policies) focuses on macroeconomic concepts. You will examine: measures of economic performance; aggregate demand; aggregate supply; national income; economic growth; and macroeconomic objectives and policy.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will look at two more themes. In Theme 3 (Business Behaviour and the Labour Market) you will look at: business growth and objectives; revenues, costs and profits; market structures; the labour market; and government intervention. In Theme 4 (A Global Perspective) you will look at: international economics; poverty and inequality; emerging & developing economies; the financial sector; and the role of the state in the macro economy.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Economics is a challenging academic subject that will develop your analytical and evaluative skills. It will almost certainly challenge your preconceptions and therefore develop your skills of self-criticism. You will be required to criticise and construct arguments and to convey them in clear prose with appropriate technical vocabulary. Although not a prerequisite for studying Economics at university, the A level is excellent preparation for it. It is also a good subject to have studied if you are applying for any humanities course.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

Although you will need to have good mathematical skills, the course requires you to understand economic concepts in their socio-political context and is predominately assessed by written answers which include essay- length responses. You will therefore need to be able to write clearly and concisely. You should have an interest in UK current affairs and interests in political and social issues from a global perspective.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS is composed of two papers, one on each theme. In both papers, there are two sections. Section A comprises a range of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. You answer all questions. Section B comprises one data response question broken down into a number of parts, including a choice of extended open-response questions; you select one from a choice of two. Each paper is worth 50% of the AS and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes.

A level

The A level is composed of three papers. Paper 1 is on Themes 1 and 3. Paper 2 is on Themes 2 and 4. The format of both papers is the same. Each paper comprises three sections. You answer all questions from Section A and Section B, and one from Section C. In Paper 3, you will be required to apply your knowledge and understanding, make connections and transfer higher-order skills across all four themes. The paper comprises two sections. Each section comprises one data response question broken down into a number of parts, including a choice of extended open-response questions; students select one from a choice of two. Papers 1 and 2 are worth 35% of the A level and Paper 3 is worth 30%. All papers last 2 hours.

Reading

Essentials of Economics, 3rd Edition
By J. Sloman
Published by Pearson Education Limited, ISBN 978-0273783794

A Short History of Economic Thought
By B. Sandelin et al
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-1138780200

Edexcel A Level Economics Book 1
By P. Smith
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471830006

Edexcel A Level Economics Book 2
By P. Smith
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-1471830051

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Pearson-Edexcel 8EC0, A level: Pearson-Edexcel 9EC0 (reformed) 

Raymond Henry
Head of Department