Economics includes the study of how people behave and interact with each other, as well as the dynamic between consumers, manufacturers and government.

You’ll look at the fundamental forces which affect our lives, such as employment, prices, international trade and poverty. Economists are often in healthy debate with each other over these issues and it is this controversy which makes the subject lively and interesting and which allows you the opportunity to make your own judgements and form your own opinions. There are several definitions of economics, with each trying to encapsulate the essence of the subject. However, most textbooks seem to agree that "economics concerns the allocation of society’s scarce resources amongst the many alternative uses to which they could be put."

Students develop the knowledge and skills needed to understand and analyse data, think critically about issues and make informed decisions. They will also build upon their quantitative skills and appreciate that, when evaluating arguments, both qualitative and quantitative evidence are important.


About the course

During their course of study, students will develop a critical approach to economic models and methods of enquiry. Students will have a good knowledge of developments in the UK economy and government policies over the past fifteen years.

Students will be expected to acquire competence in quantitative skills that are relevant to the subject content and be familiar with the various types of statistical and other data which are commonly used by economists. Students will be able to make relevant calculations from economic data and be able to interpret data presented in the form of index numbers. Examples of other relevant quantitative skills include: the construction and use of graphs and the application of statistical measures such as the mean and median. Students will understand the role of evidence in economic decision making and will appreciate the importance of value judgements. There are 2 units that the 3 exams will cover:

4.1 Individuals, firms, markets and market failure

Students will be required to acquire knowledge and understanding of a selection of microeconomic models and to apply these to current problems and issues, such as demand and supply, perfect competition, monopoly, the operation of the price mechanism and the causes of market failure are central to this part of the specification. Students will need to demonstrate a realistic understanding of the decisions made by firms and how their behaviour can be affected by the structure and characteristics of the industry in which they operate.

4.2 The national and international economy

Students should understand that microeconomic principles underpin the behaviour of the macroeconomy, for example, understanding of price elasticity of demand is essential when analysing the impact of changes in the exchange rate on an economy. Students should have a good knowledge of developments in the UK economy and government policies over the past fifteen years. They should also be aware of developments in the world economy.

Course content

You will study 14 units within the A Level Economics. These are:

  • Economic methodology and the economic problem
  • Individual economic decision making
  • Price determination in a competitive market
  • Production, costs and revenue
  • Perfect competition, imperfectly competitive markets and monopoly
  • The labour market
  • The distribution of income and wealth: poverty and inequality
  • The market mechanism, market failure and government intervention in markets The national and international economy
  • The measurement of macroeconomic performance
  • How the macroeconomy works : the circular flow of income, AD/AS analysis, and related concepts
  • Economic performance
  • Financial markets and monetary policy
  • Fiscal policy and supply-side policies
  • The international economy  

In order to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in economics, students need to have acquired competence in the quantitative skills that are relevant to the subject content and which are applied in the context of an economics A Level, including:

  • calculate, use and understand ratios and fractions
  • calculate, use and understand percentages and percentage changes
  • understand and use the terms mean, median and relevant quantiles
  • construct and interpret a range of standard graphical forms
  • calculate and interpret index numbers
  • calculate cost, revenue and profit (marginal, average, totals)
  • make calculations to convert from money to real terms
  • make calculations of elasticity and interpret the result
  • interpret, apply and analyse information in written, graphical and numerical forms

The assessment of quantitative skills will include at least Level 2 mathematical skills as a minimum of 20% of the overall A Level marks. These skills may be assessed across the assessment objectives.

Where does this lead?

An A Level in economics can be a springboard into a variety of further educational opportunities, including degrees in economics, business studies, business management, accountacy, politics, social sciences and engineering.

Some degrees offer a combination such as Economics and a language or Politics and Economics or Economics and Management.  Some degrees also offer a placement year to improve your industrial knowledge and practice.

The Sheffield College offer a variety of Higher Education courses including degree courses. This A Level (in combination with others) can lead onto these higher level programmes.

Future opportunities

As an Economics graduate with critical thinking, analytical and communication skills, there are a variety of careers available to students including:

  • Economist
  • Chartered account
  • Investment analyst
  • Financial risk analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Government officer
  • Accountant
  • Economic researcher
  • Financial consultant


There are 3 externally set exams in Year 2:

Paper 1: The operation of markets and market failure

Paper 2: The national economy in a global context

Paper 3: Economic principles and issues

Each exam is 2 hours. The exams are a mixture of data response analysis, multi-choice questions and essay questions. You will also need to pass the 4 progression tests and 2 mock exams to move from Year 1 to Year 2.

Tell me more

Trips and visits

Educational trips and visiting speakers will support the teaching of this A Level. It is expected that students will attend any education visits and visiting speakers as due to the nature of establishments and the availability of speakers, these may be at times outside of normal timetabled classes. There may be costs associated with educational visits and students may be asked to contribute towards transport and any entry fees for places of visits.

Personal study time

A Level students are expected to devote as much time outside the classroom to their studies as in lessons. Homework will be set regularly but students are expected to undertake self-directed research as well

Students are also expected to complete work experience alongside their A Levels. This can be done in a variety of different ways including volunteering, youth work, victim support, police special*

*Please note – some of these opportunities are age-related and may require an enhanced DBS.


  • Course: P00316
  • Start Date: September 2023
  • Level: 3
  • Area: A Levels
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Category: School Leavers

Typical entry requirements:

To study 3 A Levels

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or higher, including English Language and Maths 

  • Please note:
  • BTEC or vocational qualifications will not be accepted in place of GCSEs
  • International applicants must also have IELTS 6.0

Similar courses to Economics