Economics

Economics is a fascinating subject because it is always topical. We use theories to help analyse the causes and consequences of economic events, such as the global financial crisis that affect all our lives in various ways. A good example is pay and living standards, which have declined for most people living in Britain.

Why study Economics?

Economics is a fascinating subject because it is always topical. We use theories to help analyse the causes and consequences of economic events, such as the global financial crisis that affect all our lives in various ways. A good example is pay and living standards, which have declined for most people living in Britain. Thirty years ago graduates were snapped up by employers who paid them generous starting salaries. Today, many graduates have to work as unpaid interns for a year or two before they are hired. What caused this situation to change? Over the same time period living standards in countries such as South Korea and China have soared. What makes some countries richer than others? Can governments do anything to help, or would it be best for politicians to leave alone?

Economists are also interested in what goes on in the various markets that make up the economy. The housing market is rarely out of the news – prices have more than doubled since you were born. What causes dramatic price changes like that? In 2015 Aldi and Waitrose opened new stores in Guildford. On the other hand Tesco is struggling and planning to close stores. Economic theory can help you to understand why some firms are more profitable than others. Sometimes firms can be tempted to put their profits before the environment. Should government try to stop this by imposing taxes on firms that pollute?

The gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Why do some people earn more than others – why are city lawyers better paid than doctors? Does inequality matter? Should the state top up the wages of the low paid with tax credits?

Tell me more….

Economics is a very analytical subject. Studying Economics will help you to develop problem-solving skills. You will learn to think critically. Critical thinking is the skill used to evaluate big questions, such as: Should the UK leave the European Union?

Balance your subjects – Economics is a wonderful social science mix of words (mainly), diagrams and numbers and NO you don’t need much Mathematics to cope, though you probably will for top university courses later. You’ll use all the skills of your GCSE subjects, so don’t worry about it being new. We get lots of A*and A grades.

Staff List

Mr. Nigel Watson BA - Head of Economics and Business
email: nigel.watson@stcatherines.info
Nigel has taught A Level Economics since the late 1980s. Before joining St Catherine’s in 2006 he taught IB Economics and IB Business and Management at Oulu Lyseon in Finland. In addition to his teaching, he enjoys writing about the subject and has authored two Economics textbooks. He also regularly has articles published in magazines, such as: Economics Review and Economics Today. He has also written an article for the Adam Smith Institute that appeared on their website. A disciple of Mises and Hayek, he is a vocal critic of all things Keynesian! In a previous life he played top level amateur cricket for twenty years for Purley in the Premier Division of the Surrey Championship; and, in the winter, football for Carshalton FC.

Miss Katy Brooke
email: katy.brooke@stcatherines.info
Katy graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2018 with a double major in Mathematics and Economics.  Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she gained an interest in economics during the hyperinflation crisis and enjoys exploring the interplay of economic theory and real life.  She is always happy to have a conversation about mathematics, chemistry or economics but, if you start on the topic of game theory or behavioural economics, do not expect it to be a short discussion!  In her spare time you will find her in the kitchen baking cupcakes and desserts, dancing off the extra sugar on the salsa floor or visiting the theatre. 

Curriculum - AS/A Level

Examination Board: Edexcel

AS Specification

A Level Specification

Why study Economics?

Economics is a fascinating subject that will enable you to learn more about how the world works. For example, in the last eight years the global financial crisis has rarely been out of the news, because its effects are still being felt. The government has cut spending and raised taxes to reduce government borrowing. How have these changes affected the economy and the quality of life in Britain? Is our current economic recovery, based on ever higher levels of private and public debt, sustainable?

If you opt to study Economics you’ll find out the answer to this question and many more, such as: Why are some countries richer than others? The wealth gap between rich and poor in Britain has grown over the last decade. Why has this happened? And does the issue of inequality matter anyway?

Course Content

  • AS: Microeconomics is the study of individual markets. A good example of a micro market that has rarely been out of the news in the last decade is housing. For many years house prices rose at a spectacular rate, will this continue? Occasionally, market forces can create unfavourable outcomes for society, for example, should the government allow firms to pollute the environment and to employ children? During the second half of the Lower Sixth year our attention switches to macroeconomics. Macroeconomics concerns economy-wide issues such as the causes of economic growth, inflation and unemployment. You will also study the impacts of government economic policy on the economy. For example, will the policy of quantitative easing - quite literally printing money – lead to recovery, or eventual currency collapse and hyperinflation Zimbabwe style?
  • A Level: In the second year you will study micro and macroeconomics in more depth, applying your knowledge to specific markets and economies. For example is electronic road pricing the answer to the UK’s congested roads? A Level macroeconomic issues include: the economics of international trade, exchange rate determination, the balance of payments, and development economics.

Assessment

The AS Level course is assessed via a two ninety minute examinations, the questions being a mixture of multiple-choice questions, data response and essay. The full A Level qualification is assessed via three two hour examinations that take place at the end of the Upper Sixth. These examinations consist of a mixture of essays and extended data response questions.

Reading Lists

Suitable for beginners

  • An introduction to Economics Freakanomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything by Daniel Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
  • The Logic of Life by Tim Harford
  • The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg
  • The Economic Naturalist by Robert H Frank
  • Free Lunch by David Smith
  • How Economies grow and why they Crash Again by Peter Schiff

Suitable for 2nd year students

  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts
  • Life After the State by Dominic Frisby
  • PostCapitalism – A Guide to our Future by Paul Mason
  • Planet Ponzi by Mitch Feierstein
  • The Real Crash by Peter Schiff
  • Who rules the world by Noam Chomsky (this is particularly useful if you enjoy the economics of modern global politics)
  • A Banquet of Consequences: The Reality of Our Unusually Uncertain Economic Future by Satyajit das
  • The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System – Jim Rickards
  • The New case for Gold by Jim Rickards
  • Currency Wars by Jim Rickards
  • Going South by Dan Atkinson and Larry Elliot
  • 50 Economics Ideas That You Really Need To Know by Edmund Conway
  • The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson
  • Crash Proof 2.0: How to profit from the coming economic collapse by Peter Schiff
  • Fooled by Randomness by Nicholas Taleb
  • The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb
  • Globalization and its Discontents by Josef Stiglitz
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
  • No Logo by Naomi Klein
  • Affluenza by Oliver James
  • The Road to Serfdom by Frederick von Hayek
  • Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
  • Third World America by Arianna Huffington
  • The Anticapitalistic Mentality by Ludwig von Mises
  • Austrian Economics: A Primer by Eamonn Butler
  • How the West was Lost by Dambisa Moyo
  • The Endgame: The end of the debt super-cycle and how it changes everything by John Maudlin
  • When Money Dies: The Nightmare of the Weimar Hyper-Inflation by Adam Fergusson
  • This Time it’s Different by Reinhart and Rogoff
  • Fantasy Island by Larry Elliot
  • Freefall: Free markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy by Josef Stiglitz
  • Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s age of discovery by Marc Faber
  • The Selfish Capitalist by Oliver James
  • A Gift to My Children by Jim Rogers
  • Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins
  • Hoodwinked by John Perkins
  • The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
  • The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Josef Stiglitz
  • Trends 2000: How to Prepare for and Profit from the changes of the 21st Century by Gerald Celente.