Home / EDUCATION / Things You Did Not Know About Studying Economics
Things You Did Not Know About Studying Economics

Things You Did Not Know About Studying Economics

An economics course will teach you the fundamentals you need to decipher the graphs you may associate with a typical economics course, as well as the tools to develop a successful business strategy. But how can you know if studying economics is right for you?

If you’re asking yourself this question, consider the learning outcomes of various economics programs and how they compare to your personal and professional goals.

Why Study Economics?

At its core, economics is the study of how individuals, groups, and nations manage and use resources. Students who choose to study economics not only gain the skills needed to understand complicated markets but come away with strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as business acumen necessary to succeed in the professional world. Economics can be useful for professionals in all industries, not just in business.

Benefits of Studying Economics

In some countries and to some students, economics is an underrated course. However, understanding that the world will see no progress without this field of study, below are some advantages that with studying economics at the university.

Over 95 departments across the UK offer an Economics degree. Some of these are straight (‘single’) Economics degrees. They usually are simply called Economics, but sometimes they are more specialist, e.g., Agricultural Economics or Business Economics. Other degrees combine Economics with another subject (‘joint degrees’). The titles of these joint degrees: Economics and Management; Economics and Finance; Economics and Philosophy; Economics and Accounting; Economics and Business; Economics and History; and Economics and Politics.

Most economics students will experience a generic first year at university, which builds a solid foundation. The most important modules for a first-year economics student are Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Macroeconomics, and Quantitative Methods for Economics (statistics/mathematics). The concepts taught in these three modules will be used throughout an economics undergraduate degree. In their second, and particularly third, year at university, economics students will have several optional units. Students will be able to specialize in Development Economics, Managerial Economics, Labour Economics, Monetary Economics, and so on.

If students are on a joint degree, they will have modules in their other subjects in all three years, some of which will be compulsory. Students on either single or joint economics degrees may also be able to do an optional module in another subject area, such as a modern language.

The workload at university is generally more substantial than at A-level. Students can expect around 10 – 15 hours of contact time a week, consisting of a mixture of lectures and tutorials/seminars/workshops. In addition to this, students will be expected to put in a minimum of 20 hours per week of independent study. The number of contact hours will generally fall between years one, two, and three, but the amount of independent research will rise (at least it should do!).

Economics is the perfect combination of numbers and words, problems and essays, calculations, and interpretations. It is both an art and a science subject. Students have the opportunity to build models that give insights into the real world and then to critique these models based on their assumptions. There is rarely a right answer in economics, but any argument put forward must be backed up by quantitative evidence. Students ultimately enjoy economics because it allows them to employ and develop analytical and evaluative skills.

Requirements for Studying Economics at the University

Some universities have A-level Maths as a prerequisite for their economics degrees. Even if it is not required, A-level Maths is still very useful for university-level economics, especially those degrees with a large number of quantitative modules. Those institutions that do not require A-level Maths still need a good GCSE in Maths.

Furthermore, some universities may look more favourably on candidates with other quantitative subjects, such as Physics or Accounting. No university requires students to have studied A-level Economics, but it helps if they have. Aside from the topics studied, students should only choose to read economics at university: if they enjoy keeping up with current affairs, if they are comfortable working with numbers, and if they are willing to write several essays.

How to Prepare for a Degree if You Never Studied Economics Before

One way is through work experience, especially when this involves handling money or making any form of economic choice. Reading financial articles in newspapers and subscribing to The Economist will give students an edge over their peers when it comes to writing their first essay. Students could also read a couple of books on their course’s reading list, particularly those that give lots of background information (e.g., “Fool’s Gold” by Gillian Tett). Alternatively, a lot of the popular economics literature, such as the Undercover Economist or Freakonomics, will show students that economics can be used to explain virtually any phenomena.

To get an idea of the level of maths involved in their economic modules, students should have a flick through a first-year textbook and have a go at some of the problems set. Finally, students should brush up on their statistics either by going back to their notes or, if they did not study maths, by working through some problems in an A-level statistics textbook. Statistics is vital for students to understand econometrics, a technique used by many authors in several economic journals.

What Can You do With an Economics Degree?

An economics degree will boost your employability in many areas, regardless of the industry you work in. There is strong demand for highly numerate graduates throughout the global labour market, and the widely transferable analytical and problem-solving skills developed by economics students that career in economics are extensive and diverse.

Below are a range of popular economics careers, with details on what to expect and the skills you’ll need. For more advice on getting a graduate job, read our guide on how to find a job after university.

Common career paths for economics graduates include:

  • Economist
  • Financial risk analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Financial planner
  • Accountant
  • Economic researcher
  • Financial consultant
  • Investment analyst
  • Actuary
  • Public sector roles

While some choose to continue to study economics at the graduate level (e.g., a Masters in Economics), this is not a necessity to find a good graduate job. This shouldn’t deter you from the further study if you’re aiming at highly specialized roles (such as becoming a professional economist). Still, it’s useful to know that economics careers in finance and other sectors are widely available to those with just a bachelor’s degree. See below for more routine jobs in economics.

  • Professional economist careers

As a professional economist, you’ll be involved in researching and analyzing economic data, issues, and trends. For the majority of economist careers, you’ll need to study economics at the postgraduate level to gain the specialist skills required. To be a professional economist, you’ll also need to be confident in producing economic forecasts and reports to present to clients (individuals, companies, financial organizations, and public bodies) and to advise on policy and business strategy accordingly.

Possible employers include local and national government, public and private banks, insurance companies, think-tanks, large multinational companies, financial consultancies, accountancy firms, and local authorities. A sound awareness of current affairs and economic contexts is essential in these roles.

  • Economics careers in banking

Banking careers are very popular with economics graduates, offering scope for high earnings and have a high demand for economists. Graduates with a background in economics are particularly valued for roles in financial control, financial planning, risk analysis, data analysis, and consultancy. With a focus on keeping the financial requirements of clients and businesses on track, banking careers are primarily concerned with advising and providing services for a range of banking clients and consumers.

  • Economics careers in accountancy

To become a qualified accountant, you’ll need further professional qualifications, but many accountancy roles are available to those who studied economics. In accounting roles, you can work across multiple industries, focusing on monitoring the financial situation of an organization, business, or individual. Careers in accountancy typically focus on recording, classifying, interpreting, and communicating financial data.

These careers require strong analytical skills, mathematical proficiency, computer literacy, an understanding of all elements of company finances, and the ability to contextualize the data collected. Economics graduates are often able to make sense of complex data sets and identify the root of financial problems, making them suitable matches for accountancy roles.

  • Economics careers in business and financial consultancy

Economists and economics experts are at the heart of the business world and financial consulting. Economics graduates may find positions in large and medium-sized organizations where economic research is required. The role of an economic researcher requires in-depth knowledge of economic theories and models, thorough analytical and problem-solving skills, and mathematical ability. Financial consultants in the area of economics would fill similar roles but may work for multiple clients instead of just one organization, producing reports and advising on business strategy. Up-to-date industry knowledge and awareness of corporate finance are essential in these roles.

  • Economics careers in the public sector

Those who study economics will be valued in all areas of public and private spending, including roles within pricing and risk analysis, financial consultancy, and economic planning. Economist careers in the public sector are often involved in federal taxation, transport, commercial and waste services, energy, and other forms of government spending. Thanks in large part to the most recent global recession, and the tightening of economic regulation by governments across the globe, economics students are currently seeing an increase in demand in this sector.

  • Actuarial and data analysis careers in economics

An actuary is a business professional whose role is to evaluate and advise on the impacts of financial risk and uncertainty. Using knowledge of both business and economics, actuaries provide reports and devise strategies on how to lessen these risks. Most entry-level job roles in this field are within pensions and insurance, but later on, you may have the opportunity to move towards areas including banking, investment, and healthcare. Actuaries should be skilled in mathematics and compiling statistics, but also able to communicate complex data effectively to non-experts.

Alternative Economics Degree Jobs and Careers

With a background in economics, it seems anything is possible. Other common economics careers and roles include auditor, stockbroker, insurer, business manager, retail merchandizer, pricing analyst, statistician, financial consultant, and salesperson.

But what can you do with an economics degree if none of the above appeals to you? Well, you may want also to consider these broader options: business intelligence, international development, human resource management, IT, journalism, law, management, market research, politics, public relations, social research, and taxation. Or, you could even become an entrepreneur and start your own business!

And of course, there is money. Economics graduates typically earn £4000 more than the average graduate in their first position.

There are many options available for those looking to pursue an education in economics. Depending on your personal and professional goals, your current stage in life, and other vital factors, you may choose to pursue an undergraduate or graduate economics degree or online economics courses.

Things You Did Not Know About Studying Economics

Here’s a look at things you did not know about studying economics and how it can benefit both your organization and career:

1. Economic forecaster

As an economist, you can make a living from predicting future economic events. The key to being an excellent economic forecaster is to use a mixture of dice and lottery numbers. (some economists make the mistake of using just lottery numbers, but this can lead to really bad forecasting) If this method fails, just use the statistics from the previous year; they are always more accurate than the actual predictions of economists.

Note: Economists have successfully predicted 10 out of the last two recessions.

2. You can always give advice.

When the economy enters a recession, you will be able to tell everybody why the economy is in a recession. Also, you will be able to suggest several conflicting reasons as to how we can get out of a recession. This will simultaneously both confuse and impress everybody, but it doesn’t matter because nobody ever listens to economists.

3. Diminishing returns

When you get ill from drinking 10 pints of beer in one night, you will be able to impress your parents with the knowledge that the law of diminishing returns is entirely correct. As a side effect, you may also learn about opportunity cost:

4. Rational behaviour

Economics assumes people are intelligent. Economics assumes that people choose the activity which optimizes our utility. When people want to buy a season ticket to watch Leeds United, you can tell them this is irrational behaviour. However, the Leeds United supporter will appreciate the cogency of your economic reasoning and will, more than likely, start supporting Doncaster Rovers with immediate effect.

5. Economics is a very humorous subject

Did you know that you can rearrange Economics to get “comic nose.” If, this alone, was not sufficient proof of the hilarity endemic in the subject of Economics, try these economics jokes:

How many Free Market economists does it take to change a light bulb? None, in the long run, it will change of its own accord.

How many Marxists does it take to change a light bulb? None, smash the light bulb, a light bulb is a mere representation of the capitalist ideology that gives a feeble light, rather than the True source which is the sun.

6. Economics gets you a high paying job

This is the only reason people study economics. Unless, of course, you have a strange desire to be an economics teacher, in which case you will enjoy your students repeatedly asking you the question, “Why didn’t you get a proper job in the city, Sir?”

7. It’s better than studying Geography

True, but purists may argue this doesn’t prove very much.

8. Economies of scale

This is when more units of a good or service can be produced on a larger scale, yet with fewer input costs. Economics of scale is basically cost advantages reaped by companies when production becomes efficient.

For example, To produce tap water, water companies will have to invest in a huge connection of water pipes reaching all parts of the country. The fixed cost of this is very high. However, since the water is distributed to millions of households, it would brings the average cost down.

9. However – On the Other Hand

Economics is the only subject where contradicting yourself is seen as a highly desirable attribute. To double the mark on your economics essays, just say after each paragraph: However, on the other hand, this is probably not true at all

10. You will know why you are unemployed

When you are standing in the unemployment queue, you will be able to tell everyone the type of unemployment they are suffering from. This will significantly endear you to the ranks of the unemployed; who will not, sarcastically, ask you;

“If you know everything, how come you haven’t got a job then?

11. You will expand your vocabulary

Whether it’s scarcity (limited resources), opportunity cost (what must be given up to obtain something else), or equilibrium (the price at which demand equals supply), an economics course will give you fluency in fundamental terms needed to understand how markets work. Even if you don’t use these words often in your current role, studying these economic terms will give you a better understanding of market dynamics as a whole and how they apply to your organization.

12. Put it into practice

Economics isn’t just learning a fancy set of words; it’s using them to develop a viable business strategy. When you understand these terms, you can use theories and frameworks like Porter’s Five Forces and SWOT analyses to assess situations and make a variety of economic decisions for your organization, like whether to pursue a bundled or unbundled pricing model or the best ways to maximize revenues.

13. You will understand your spending habits

Economics will teach you about how your organization and its market behaves, but you’ll also gain insight into your spending habits and values. For example, Willingness to Pay (WTP) is the maximum amount someone is willing to pay for a good or service. There’s frequently a gap between hypothetical and actual WTP, and learning about it will help you decode your behaviour and enable you to make economically sound decisions.

Kathy used the concepts she learned in Economics for Managers to maximize her income for a rental property.

“I recently had to look for a new tenant to rent a property I own,” she said. “The real estate agent suggested a price based on market comparisons. I didn’t want to assume what the WTP would be for the property, especially since I thought I could get more. Since supply was in demand, I listed it much higher and ended up getting it rented in two weeks.”

14. It’s more than demand curves

Many people think of economics as just curves, models, and relationships, but in reality, economics is much more nuanced. Much of economic theory is based on assumptions of how people behave rationally. Still, it’s essential to know what to do when those assumptions fail—learning about cognitive biases that affect our economic decision-making processes arms you with the tools to predict human behaviour in the real world, whether people act rationally or irrationally.

15. You’ll learn how to leverage economic tools

Learning economic theory is one thing, but developing the tools to make business decisions is another. Economics will teach you the basics and also give you concrete tools for analysis. For example, conjoint analysis is a statistical approach to measuring consumer demand for specific product features. This tool will allow you to get at the surprisingly complicated function versus price tradeoffs that consumers make every day.

For example, pretend you work for Apple Inc., and you want to know what part of the iPhone you should improve: Battery life, screen size, or camera. A conjoint analysis will let you know which improvements customers care about and which are worth the company’s time and money.

Learning economic theory is one thing, but developing the tools to make business decisions is another. Economics will teach you the basics and also give you concrete tools for analysis. For example, conjoint analysis is a statistical approach to measuring consumer demand for specific product features. This tool will allow you to get at the surprisingly complicated function versus price tradeoffs that consumers make every day.

Whether you’re new to the business world or an experienced manager, having a thorough understanding of how markets work, pricing strategy and consumer behaviour is essential to success. For example, pretend you work for Apple Inc., and you want to know what part of the iPhone you should improve: Battery life, screen size, or camera. A conjoint analysis will let you know which improvements customers care about and which are worth the company’s time and money.

%d bloggers like this: