Economics is a serious, intellectually challenging subject combining analytical reasoning and an evaluative approach to issues with the study of important developments in current affairs in the UK and abroad.
While facts play an important part there is often no ‘right answer’ to economic questions, making it a subject characterised by informed discussion. Following a period of stability, the turmoil of recent years has led to all sorts of new policies being tried, making economics once again a battleground of ideas – an exciting, contentious, fast-changing forum for debate.
We make the subject highly-relevant and topical, enthusing students through making clear links to what is happening in economies right now. An understanding of the issues in the news today provides a great framework for getting to grips with complex ideas, and gives students interesting examples that illustrate the theory in action.
Through studying economics, students:
- Learn how to form well-structured opinions backed up by evidence and analysis and put across arguments for and against theories and practices
- Develop a sound understanding of economic concepts and theories through a critical consideration of current issues, problems and institutions that affect everyday life
- Apply economic concepts and theories in a range of contexts and to appreciate their value and limitations in explaining real-world phenomena
- Analyse, explain and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the market economy and the role of government within it
- Work effectively with data, assessing its validity, conducting analysis using excel and visualising data effectively through charts and graphics
It is not essential to study maths A level alongside economics, but students may like to note that many straight economics courses at university require maths A level. University courses that are economics-related or dual honours are open to non-mathematicians. A small number of university courses strongly prefer candidates with further maths A level.
- Learning journey
Students cover micro and macro economics.
Micro: the study of how individuals, households and firms make choices including what to buy, how wages are set, the objectives of firms and market failures.
Macro: the study of how individual micro decisions aggregate to the national level, leading to topics such as inflation, unemployment, trade, and monetary and fiscal policy.
- Providing stretch
We offer opportunities for students to do extended projects with our guidance and support. Working with the Department, Perse economists recently set up a Perse Nudge Unit, intended to harness the power of behavioural economics to propose actions to improve the School.
We run a joint trip with the History and Politics departments to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. Sixth formers tour Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Capitol Building, and enjoy a cultural experience as diverse as a Broadway show and a Philly cheese steak. Read the report of a recent trip on our news pages. Closer to home, we attend lectures such as the Royal Economics Society Annual lecture and other public lectures, for example those organised by Cambridge University Economics Faculty.
We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Economics students are encouraged to consider delving into Ha-Joon Chang’s Economics: The User’s Guide, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Leavitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics. We also publish the Perse Economics Enrichment Brochure which contains information and recommendations on books, blogs, podcasts, news sources, competitions, work experience and more.
- Beyond the classroom
We enter several demanding competitions. Our students have an excellent record in the prestigious Bank of England Target 2.0 Interest Rate Challenge, reaching the national final several times, and winning £20,000 over the years. In 2015 the Perse team won the Challenge, securing a four-week summer internship at the Bank for each team member and £5,000 for the School. This competition has recently been discontinued by the Bank and we are currently looking at alternative competitions.
A Perse team won the online stage of the IFS Student Investor Challenge 2014, the UK’s premier investment competition, against more than 8,000 teams. A great performance in the regional finals saw them qualify for the national finals, placing them in the top eight teams nationally.
The Economics Society meets regularly to hear and discuss presentations by A Level students and occasional external speakers. Our 42 Society programme of lectures also regularly includes speakers of interest to economics students such as Dr David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, or by business people like Sir Richard Broadbent, Former Chair of Tesco.
Increasingly, our students are enjoying great success in various economics essay competitions. In 2016 two students were runners-up in the Cambridge University Marshall Society essay competition. We take part in the annual Running the British Economy event at the University of Cambridge, deciding on various policy instruments to steer the British Economy from interest rates to tax levels.
- Economics at university
Our Economics Society is particularly useful for those considering an economics or an economics-related degree at university. The Society also has a reading group which provides an opportunity for those applying to read economics to critically appraise university-level journal articles and theories. We offer tutorials in econometrics to give prospective university economists an insight into how the subject differs at degree level from A Level. Economics applicants are encouraged to attend the curve-sketching classes provided by the maths department.
Former students have gone on to great success reading economics at University. In each of the 3 years from 2014 to 2016, Old Perseans obtained the highest marks in the Cambridge 1st Year undergraduate exams.
In 2017, 22 of our 29 A-Level Economics students began economics (or related) courses at the following universities: Cambridge (2); Oxford (3); Bath (2); Durham (2); LSE (2); UCL(4); Warwick (6); York (1)