Economics A Level

Economics A Level at St James’ is one of the most successful departments in the country having achieved ‘outstanding’ as judged by Alps (A-Level performance systems of Durham University) in each of the last 5 years. Many students continue their interest in the subject by reading Economics at University: the department has a strong performance in enabling students to study at one of the Russell Group Universities.

Economics teaches students how to make sense of the world around them. The course covers a wide range of topics, including ‘supply and demand’, the role of the Government, different market systems, efficiency, game theory, economic growth and the impact of a globalised economy. Both macro- and micro-economics are covered, and the course features a mixture of diagrammatic analysis and evaluation of current economic issues.

There are 4 themes and 3 exam papers

Theme 1: Introduction to markets and market failure

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 to remedy market failures.

This theme will provide a coherent coverage of microeconomic content with students drawing on local, national and global contexts.

Theme 2: The UK economy – performance and policies

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.

Theme 3: Business behaviour and the labour market

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: A global perspective

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.

Exam arrangements

There are 3 papers:

Paper 1: Markets and Business Behaviour

Each question is set in a context, drawing on topics from across Themes 1 and 3.

The assessment is 2 hours and comprises 7 questions for 100 marks.

Paper 2: The National and Global Economy

Questions will be drawn from Themes 2 and 4.

The assessment is 2 hours and comprises 7 questions for 100 marks.

Paper 3: Microeconomics and Macroeconomics

Each question is set in a context, drawing on topics from across Themes 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The assessment is 2 hours and comprises 2 questions for 100 marks.


More detail can be found at: