Economics GCSE

Exam Board: OCR

What is the GCSE about?

Economics is the study of how people behave… and specifically how they make choices.

  • Governments make choices about how much to spend and how to deliver healthcare or education; they choose which countries to trade with, and on what terms; and how to regulate carbon emissions and pollutants.
  • Firms choose what to produce, what price to set, whom to hire, and how much to spend on research and development.
  • Most people also face choices: what to buy, where to work, whether to have children, whether to pay bribes or cheat on their taxes, whether and how much to save for the future.

These choices are often constrained because of limited resources, including money, time, and information. Economics studies what determines what choices are made …and it doesn’t assume that everyone always acts rationally. Economists also study the effects of choices, looking to understand and build evidence on what happens in the real world.

Economics helps us to understand how the world works… and how to make it a better place. It is at the heart of understanding the major social problems of our time, including climate change, inequality, poverty, health care, an ageing population, obesity, and globalisation. Effective solutions to these problems require economic insights. What questions are economists asking?

  • What effect does the minimum wage have on wages and employment?
  • Is the sugar tax an effective way to tackle the social costs of obesity?
  • Will coronavirus reverse globalisation?
  • What factors affect the value of the pound?
  • What future for cinemas in a world dominated by Netflix and Amazon?
  • Which policies are effective in curbing the plastic pollution crisis?
  • Will we have a cashless future?
  • How have restaurants responded to coronavirus?

How does it work?

The GCSE in Economics has been designed to be an engaging and relevant specification for today’s learners. Economics is about people and their economic choices. This course enables learners to appreciate we are all part of the economy and that economics relates to every aspect of our lives – from the decisions of individuals or families to the structures created by governments and producers.

It will develop learners’ understanding of how economic issues affect choices about resources and markets and vice versa. The GCSE in Economics equips learners with the skills and confidence to explore how consumers, producers and governments interact in markets nationally and internationally.

The GCSE in Economics will encourage learners to:

  • Understand how markets operate and the roles of consumers, producers or workers within markets.
  • Understand how the economy works nationally and globally and the levers employed by governments to reach desired social and economic objectives
  • Actively engage in the study of Economics to develop as effective, self-motivated students, and as critical, reflective thinkers with enquiring minds, able to distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Understand and apply their economic knowledge and skills to investigate current and historical economic situations and issues in a range of national and global contexts.
  • Build economic arguments, making informed judgements by using economic concepts and quantitative evidence through the use, application and interpretation of data.
  • Understand the perspectives of different economic agents, including consumers, producers and government in relation to economic activity.
  • Read economic articles to appreciate how leading economists approach economic problems.
  • Consider moral, ethical and sustainability issues that arise as a result of the impact of economic activity.

What does the GCSE consist of?

GCSE Economics is a two year course covering both microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students learn microeconomics in the first year through covering introductory topics and the role of markets and money. They then switch to macroeconomics in the second year and cover economic objectives, the role of government, international trade and the global economy.

The key areas of study for Year 1 are:

  • Main economic groups and factors of production
  • The basic economic problem
  • The role of markets
  • Demand
  • Supply
  • Price
  • Competition
  • Production
  • The labour market
  • The role of money and financial markets

The key areas of study for Year 2 are:

  • Economic growth
  • Unemployment
  • Inequality
  • Inflation
  • Fiscal policy
  • Monetary policy
  • Supply-side policy
  • Limitations of markets
  • International trade
  • Balance of payments
  • Exchange rates
  • Globalisation

There is no coursework. All assessment is through two exams at the end of the course (with multiple choice, short and longer answer questions):

  • Paper 1: Introduction to Economics (1 hour and 30 minute written paper)
  • Paper 2: National and International Economics (1 hour and 30 minute written paper)

Exam board

We follow the OCR specification which can be accessed here.

Whom does the subject suit?

Anyone with an interest in current affairs and knowing more about the way the world works. If students have a particular interest in business, human geography, or politics then this could be the course for them.

GCSE Economics will enable learners to become better-informed and more responsible citizens, consumers and producers, by allowing them to develop an awareness for the importance of the economic dimension to our lives. This will allow them to become more confident in the economic choices relating to their life and work.

Where could it lead?

GCSE Economics provides a well rounded introduction to this subject and an excellent foundation for advanced study in Economics. By learning how to explain and evaluate economic problems and possible solutions, learners will acquire a way of thinking as economists and develop a logical approach to thinking and reasoning.

By learning how to use economic data from a range of sources, such as tables, charts and graphs, learners will acquire the skills to make informed judgements and to communicate in a clear and concise way. Learners will benefit from these transferable skills in their further study and employment.

Economics is an academic subject that is highly thought of both by universities and employers. Economics degrees have been found to be the second most lucrative degree five and ten years after graduating (after Medicine). Studying economics will help with all career paths – whether in the private sector, public sector or in the charity sector. Students go on to work in many areas including academia, journalism, banking, finance, and the civil service.

Most economics graduates don’t work as economists. Instead, they use their skills in a diverse range of careers: analysis (financial, market, data), public policy, consulting, accountancy, research, charity/ development, market regulation.

Studying economics gives you a wide set of skills that you can take into a wide range of different careers.

  • Analytical skills – you will be good at distilling and analysing complex problems
  • Market insights – from designing and regulating tech industries to understanding consumers, you will have an excellent understanding of markets and incentives
  • Working with data – you will likely be comfortable with handling data and using it to generate real-world insights.

What books can I read?

  • 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang)
  • Doughnut Economics (Kate Raworth)
  • Economics: A User’s Guide (Ha-Joon Chang)
  • Freakonomics (Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner)
  • The Next Fifty Things that made the Modern Economy (Tim Harford)
  • The Undercover Economist (Tim Harford)
  • Winner Take All (Dambisa Moyo)

Which websites can I look at?

The UK’s outstanding economics website has a whole array of economics based resources, and an excellent blog which will give a great feel for the subject. Discover Economics is a new three-year campaign, launched in October 2019, in partnership with leading economics organisations. The campaign aims to broaden the appeal of economics to potential students, change their perceptions of economics and economists, and increase diversity among economics students.

Who will teach me?

Miss Smith joined Kingham Hill School as Head of Economics in 2018. Miss Smith is also an experienced examiner for OCR, Eduqas and Cambridge International Examinations.