Economics (A-Level)

Exam Board:
Edexcel (Economics A)

Subject Specification Codes:
8EC0 (AS-Level), 9EC0 (A-Level)

Mr M. Wilson – Subject Leader
Mrs S. Sammons –  Teacher

What does the course comprise of?

Economics is the issue of the times in which we live. The financial crisis, global recession and Eurozone’s problems have wreaked havoc on the economic fortunes of nations, businesses and individuals. Events of recent years underscore the need for analysis to make sense of a chaotic, complex and rapidly changing world economic picture.

Studying Economics will help you access, analyse and evaluate a whole array of current affairs; helping you to argue, make informed decisions and provide a deeper understanding of the world around you. Ever wondered what a budget deficit and austerity really mean? What are the impacts of Brexit for the UK and the Rest of the World? What caused the 2008 Financial Crisis? How would the expansion of Heathrow Airport impact the UK economy? How did the European Debt Crisis come about and could an entire country like Greece actually completely run out of money? …and just why are Freddo chocolate bars no longer 10p? These questions (and many more) are just a few of the possibilities that studying A-Level Economics will shed light upon.

During Year 1 you will study how individuals allocate scarce resources to satisfy infinite human wants and the different economic systems used to allocate these resources, focussing upon communism, socialism, Marxism and capitalism. As well as the views of theorists like Hayek, Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes.  In addition, you will be introduced to key measures of economic performance such as inflation, unemployment and economic growth plus how fiscal and monetary policy are used by the government and the Bank of England to influence the economy.

In Year 2 you will study the pricing and output decisions of monopolies, oligopolies and other market structures. In addition we explore concepts such as game theory and John Nash’s famous equilibrium, as well as discovering just why different Starbucks charge different prices for the same latte, despite each café being only a few metres away! In addition you will study topics such as international economics, poverty and inequality, emerging and developing economies, the financial sector and the labour market.

Stephen Hawking once said, “whilst physicists and mathematicians may be able to tell us how the universe began, they are not much use in predicting human behaviour because there are far too many equations to solve.” Economics is a study of human behaviour, this social science will change the way you look at the world and provide you with critical transferable skills essential for everyday life.

To give our students a more rigorous education, students will have the opportunity to enrich and apply their learning with super-curricular activities outside of the classroom. To provide students with opportunities for extended learning, we promote the Student Investor Challenge, in which students enter a competition to purchase commodities and shares with the aim of making profit. We also enter a team into the Bank of England’s prestigious Target Two Point Zero competition, whereby students use real-word data to make monetary policy decisions and present their findings to judges from the Bank of England itself. Furthermore, support and advice is provided for the Royal Economic Societies’ essay challenge, a highly respected and essential competition for any aspiring Economics undergraduate!

What next?

Economics is a highly sought after A-Level, with entrants up 70% since 2009. The versatility of Economics complements the study of Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Geography, Sociology, a Modern Foreign Language or English and it provides a strong basis for the study of a range of subjects at degree level. The subject of Economics harbours and develops the skill of analysis in a variety of applicable, modern-day contexts, making Economics an extremely versatile asset for any given career choice.

How are you assessed at A-Level?

  • Paper 1: Markets and business behaviour
    Microeconomics and questions will be drawn from Themes 1 and 3.
    2 hours – 35% of total qualification

    Section A comprises a range of multiple-choice and short-answer questions.
    Section B comprises one data response question broken down into a number of parts.
    Section C comprises a choice of extended open-response questions; students select one from two.

  • Paper 2: The national and global economy
    Macroeconomics and questions will be drawn from Themes 2 and 4.
    2 hours – 35% of total qualification

    Section A comprises a range of multiple-choice and short-answer questions.
    Section B comprises one data response question broken down into a number of parts.
    Section C comprises a choice of extended open-response questions; students select one from two.

  • Paper 3: Microeconomics and macroeconomics
    Microeconomics and macroeconomics and questions will be draw from all four Themes.
    2 hours – 30% of total qualification – 100 marks

    The paper compromises of 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.

Theme 1 (Year 12)

In this theme students will consider how markets work, looking at how supply and demand interact to allocate resources in local, national and international markets. They will learn how to apply supply and demand analysis to real-world situations and be able to offer explanations of consumer behaviour.

This will involve looking at both how consumers act in a rational way to maximise utility and how firms maximise profit, but also why consumers may not behave rationally. Having investigated how markets work, students will then look at market failure. They will look at the nature and causes of market failure before considering the strengths and weaknesses of possible government intervention (taxation, subsidies, provision of information) to remedy market failures.

Theme 2 (Year 12)

Students will be introduced to the aggregate demand/aggregate supply model so that they can use it to analyse changes in real output and the price level. They will: examine the use of demand-side policies, supply-side policies and direct controls as means of improving an economy’s performance; recognise the underlying assumptions; predict the likely impact and effectiveness of such policies; and consider these in an historical context. Students should consider the different approaches that may be used by policymakers to address macroeconomic issues and be able to identify the criteria for success. Students should have knowledge of the UK economy in the last 10 years. This theme will provide a coherent coverage of macroeconomic content with students drawing on local and national contexts, as appropriate.

Theme 3 (Year 13)

This theme examines how the number and size of market participants, and the level of contestability, affect the pricing and nature of competition among firms. Students will consider the size and growth of firms through exploring organic growth, mergers and takeovers. They will look at the reasons for demergers and why some firms tend to remain small. Students will look at the rational assumption that firms are profit-maximisers and then challenge this by looking at alternative business objectives. Revenues, costs and profits are explored before linking these ideas to different market structures. Students will then be able to analyse and evaluate the pricing and output decisions of firms in different contexts and understand the role of competition in business decision making. Supply and demand analysis is specifically applied to the labour market to see how wages are determined in competitive and non-competitive markets. At the end of this theme students should be capable of making an appraisal of government intervention aimed at promoting competitive markets.

Theme 4 (Year 13)

Students will be expected to understand the significance of globalisation, international trade, the balance of payments and exchange rates. They will examine public finance, macroeconomic policies and the role of the financial sector in a global context. Students will consider the factors influencing the growth and development of emerging and developing countries. In examining these areas, application, analysis and evaluation of economic models is required as well as an ability to assess policies that might be used to address national and global economic challenges. Students should develop an awareness of trends in the global economy over the last 25 years through wider reading and research so that they can include relevant examples in their analysis and evaluation.