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course requirements for studying economics

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There are more than eighty economics degree programmes on offer at universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Typical offers range from CCC (or equivalent) at London Metropolitan University to A*A*A at Cambridge.

you don't need to have studied economics before...

No degree programme in the UK requires economics A level. While it is true that most people will have studied economics at school, having economics A level has been shown to give students at Bristol and Warwick no advantage when it comes to their final degree – students with and without economics A level do equally well.

...nor do you need to have studied maths at a-level

Economics has a reputation for being very mathematical. About one-quarter of economics degree programmes require maths A level and some universities, such as the London School of Economics and Cambridge, like you to have taken further maths if your school offers it. But there are plenty of options if you haven’t done maths A level. You are likely to get some quantitative courses, so you have to be comfortable with mathematical concepts. Above all, you shouldn’t feel scared of data – a good economist is someone who sees a set of numbers and wants to figure out the story behind them.

what will I learn in an economics degree?

Most economics degree programmes will give you basic grounding in macro-economics (how the economy works) and micro-economics (how people and firms behave) and quantitative methods. As you move through the second and third years, you will get more choice and be able to specialise in the areas of economics that interest you – whether that’s development economics, behavioural economics, international economics, history of economic thought, economic policy or advanced theory or econometrics. One of the great things about an economics degree is just how broad it is.

But whatever you specialise in, an economics degree will train you to think analytically and will also give you some technical skills in data handling. You will also get some experience in essay or report writing. A good economist is someone who can communicate technical knowledge in a clear way. 

You will also find economics offered as part of many joint degree programmes including with management, accounting, finance, politics, philosophy, maths, psychology, law. The advantage of a joint degree is that you get to study a second, complementary discipline; the downside is that you won’t get so much economics (!) and you may not have such a wide range of economics options.

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