"Economics is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions.”  - John Maynard Keynes

Economics studies how societies and individuals organise themselves to secure and improve their wellbeing.  It looks at the issues which affect decisions in everyday life, such as those of an individual when choosing a career path or whether or not to buy a house.  It also studies the behaviour of firms, and the collective decisions that governments make, such as whether or not to raise taxes or to cut spending on key public services.  At Ampleforth, we follow the Pearson Edexcel Economics A specification, in addition to offering a range of extra-curricular opportunities open to all Sixth Form students.

Course Aims

  • To apply economic concepts and theories in a range of contexts and to appreciate their value and limitations in explaining ‘real world’ phenomena.
  • To analyse, explain and evaluate the strengths and weakness of the market economy and the role of the government within it.
  • To facilitate students’ effective participation in society as citizens, producers and consumers.

The A Level Course

Students undertake three papers based upon the following themes:

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.

Theme 2 – The UK economy

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 will consider the different approaches that may be used by policymakers to address macroeconomic issues and be able to identify the criteria for success. Students will gain knowledge of the UK economy over the last 10 years.

Theme 3 – Business behaviour and labour markets

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.

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 will develop an awareness of trends in the global economy over the last 25 years.

Assessment is in the form of multiple choice style questions, data response and extended essay writing.

You can access a copy of the specification here.

Extra-curricular Opportunities

Economics students are encouraged to enter a wide range of national and international essay competitions, and to participate in the IEA’s annual Budget Challenge.  There is a regular programme of trips to hear talks and lectures on all manner of economic issues.

Student Investor

The Student Investor activity is offered to all Sixth Form students who wish to gain an understanding of the world of business finance.  Students will gain knowledge of the financial sector and the ways businesses raise funds through these financial markets.

Finance Map

The Department hosts an annual Finance Map session, delivered by Matthew Craston, who has over 30 years of experience with Chase Manhattan, SBC Warburg, UBS and ECM Asset Management.  This unique opportunity explains the world of finance to students, describing the activities of all the key participants, especially banks and fund managers. It has already proved invaluable to many wishing to secure internships or work experience in the sector.