Why Study Economics at A-Level? (With Skills and Careers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Economics is the study of how society uses the world's resources. A-Level economics introduces students to the basic concepts, theories and issues that compose the economic world, providing them with a strong knowledge base. There are many advantages to studying economics as it can help widen your future career opportunities. In this article, we look at why you may wish to study economics at A-Level, what the course entails and where it can take you in your career.

Why study economics at A-Level?

If you're wondering 'why study economics at A-Level?', it's a helpful starting point for those who wish to pursue a career in economics or finance. The A-Level curriculum gives you a good base understanding of the various economic concepts you may encounter when working towards a career in economics or undertaking university study. It can also benefit students who are considering starting a business after college. Regardless of career ambitions, many students find a personal benefit in having an understanding of the economic world. It can provide an understanding of concepts such as inflation and the economic impact of unemployment.

A-Level training teaches students how to apply economic theory practically to various real scenarios. Economics is a useful subject that can help you learn skills to prepare you for the challenges you may face in working life, like assessing the value of goods and investing for your retirement. It can also give you a clear understanding of the impact economic issues have, both historically and currently, and provide you with the tools you may require when managing these issues.

What is economics?

Economics is the study of how individual people, industries or businesses use resources. Although it's partially driven by numbers, it's not simply a mathematical study. Economics also covers social, financial and cultural perspectives when looking at the way the economic world operates and the transfer of wealth. Many economic models and theories help people work through the challenges posed by trying to utilise these limited resources effectively. Economic studies explore the history of economics, contemporary events and potential future challenges.

Economics is a social science that explores various aspects of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the four factors of production. These include:

  • land

  • labour

  • capital

  • enterprise

What is it like to study this A-Level course?

Here are some specifics about what it's like to study an economics A-Level:

Course content

The specific content of the course can vary between colleges. In most cases, the course gives you an understanding of the basic concepts, theories and ideas of economics, such as the free market. The course typically comprises two broad categories of study:

  • Macroeconomics: This involves looking at economics from a national viewpoint. Macroeconomics explores themes like immigration, unemployment, inequality, economic growth, inflation and taxes.

  • Microeconomics: This involves looking at economics at the level of individuals and businesses, exploring how they make decisions regarding things like purchasing, saving, setting prices and business competition. Microeconomics study explores these individual-level concepts in the context of a theoretically ideal free market and compares this with the complexity and inefficiency of real-life, modern markets.

Under these broad study umbrellas, you're likely to study specific topics and concepts relevant to economics. The specific curriculum of your college dictates which subjects are available to learn. These can include:

  • financial marketplaces

  • production and efficiency in business

  • government policy and intervention

  • the difference between economies and diseconomies of scale

  • economics as a social science

  • the difference between production and productivity

Entry requirements

Prior study or knowledge of economics isn't necessary to start an A-Level economics course. All you require is the requisite GCSEs for entry to your specific college, which likely include English and maths. A strong grade in both English and maths is likely to be very beneficial to your study, with grade B or higher being ideal. Though economics isn't an exclusively maths-driven course, those with a C grade or lower may find the study very challenging. Factors that can help with this study include a genuine interest in economics, a logical approach to thinking, problem-solving skills and debate skills.

How it fits with other subjects

As economics is a study of the real world and the challenges people experience, the course may also complement other A-Level subjects from sciences to arts and humanities. This pattern continues to university-level study, where it's not uncommon to see degree programmes that combine economics with subjects like politics or management. With economics being a social science, it fits particularly well with subjects like environmental studies, international studies, politics, psychology and sociology. For those with more mathematical or scientific interests, the financial elements of economics mean you can also study it alongside subjects like mathematics, statistics, business, accounting and finance.

Assessments

A-Level economics is a linear course rather than its initial type, which was modular. This means that you may receive assessments of your knowledge of the entire course content as an end-of-year examination, rather than the assessment of individual modules. This means that if there are any individual elements of the course that you're not as comfortable with, it can cause you to fail the exam. In this case, you'd resit the entire exam, as it's not an option to assess your knowledge solely in one specific area. The examination covers three main areas of your study:

  • macroeconomics

  • microeconomics

  • economic principles and issues

The examination is a mixture of multiple-choice questions, essay prompts, case studies and data sets that you analyse and answer questions about. The exam doesn't necessarily cover all the topics your teacher discusses in your course of study and may target any area of your economic study. It's still important to revise for all aspects so you can prepare for whatever questions the exam presents.

What can I do with economics at A-Level?

Many students who take an A-Level economics course choose to continue their studies with a bachelor's degree. As not all colleges offer A-Level economics programmes, an economics A-Level is typically not a prerequisite for degree study, but it can help equip you with a strong base-level understanding. You can use this prior experience to help you quickly develop further skills and knowledge regarding economic concepts.

Specific entry requirements vary by university, but many ask for three A-Levels grade AAB. It's typically a requirement that one of these is A-Level maths. If maths is not your strongest subject, but you still wish to pursue an economics degree, you may wish to consider a BA programme rather than a BSc. In terms of job prospects, A-Level economics can provide a strong foundation and skill set for a number of career paths. Typical careers for A-Level economics students include:

  • economist

  • chartered accountant

  • investment analyst

  • management consultant

  • civil servant

You may also find yourself working in the banking sector, with charities, NGOs or voluntary organisations, consultancies or insurance firms.

Related: How To Become an Investment Analyst (With Steps and Skills)

What key skills does the course develop?

Studying economics A-Level helps you develop a number of key skills that can make you attractive to employers, including:

Problem-solving skills

Economics is a complex subject and much of the teaching and assessment is in reference to case studies. This means that you look at scenarios and data sets, analyse them and answer questions about them. This exercise helps develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be valuable in numerous different careers.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Communication skills

Studying economics A-Level can help develop your written and verbal communication skills, which are valuable in many aspects of life. The course includes understanding and analysing information and effectively and logically communicating your points during debates. As economics is a social science, you develop the ability to communicate in business terms and about the issues and challenges that individuals face. The course helps you gain an understanding and appreciation of the viewpoints of people from different cultural backgrounds and their specific issues. This can help to develop empathetic and interpersonal communication skills.

Related: How To Improve Your Communication Skills

Numerical skills

Though economics involves more than just analysing numbers, numeracy is a key part of the course. Studying economics can help develop your confidence when working with figures, analysing statistics and identifying trends. Many of the numeracy skills associated with economics translate well to other jobs.

Analytical skills

Economics courses help you learn how to analyse information critically by identifying key information from lengthy data sets. You also learn how to evaluate this information, draw conclusions and make informed decisions. Your analytical skills are helpful for both the numerical and social aspects of economics.

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