‘Economics is the science of people in the course of their everyday life’ – Alfred Marshall, Cambridge Professor of Political Economy, 1895
WHAT DO WE STUDY
Although most people’s conception of economics is that it is all about ‘money’, this does not accurately reflect the nature of the subject. Money is merely a convenient shorthand, a means of measurement rather than an objective in itself. Economists study the factors that contribute to material well-being; the conditions necessary for improvements in welfare and why they are constrained in so many situations. Economic things are those which are scarce and therefore we have to decide, as a society, a way of making a choice about how, what and for whom to produce. Different economic systems have different mechanisms for answering this fundamental question. Economics is a subject where an interest in current affairs and a curiosity for learning how the world operates is a vital ingredient for success.
At St Paul’s, we believe that economic reasoning provides an important framework for developing practical, analytical skills which complement academic study across many subjects. There are rarely clear-cut ‘right’ answers in the social sciences and we aim to develop the independent critical-thinking skills which enable our students to tackle complex real-world issues. Classroom debate is an important part of the learning process, developing the evaluative skills which are crucial to a nuanced understanding of contemporary affairs. In this manner, abstract concepts and terminology come to life. We follow the Edexcel board at A level, although, naturally, we aim to stretch our students well beyond the confines of this specification.
BEYOND THE CURRICULUM
In addition to wider enrichment during lessons there are a number of extra-curricular opportunities in economics at St Paul’s. The Robinson Society invites eminent speakers from business, finance and politics to talk about current economic affairs. In the VII there is a Social Sciences Discussion Group which allows girls to learn about subjects such as anthropology and sociology.
We participate in the Bank of England Target 2.0 competition and were placed second in the London Final in 2015. We also enter the Proshare Student Investor Challenge and many different national essay competitions to supplement the curriculum. Girls have won a number of awards in national economics essay competitions. For example, a Paulina won first place in the 2013 Young Economist of the Year RES Essay Competition, making her the national Young Economist of the Year, and in 2015 another Paulina was highly commended in the same competition. In 2015, a Paulina won first place in the IEA Dorian Fisher Memorial Essay Competition.
WHERE MIGHT IT LEAD
Almost anywhere! Many students choose to study economics at university; it is one of the most popular degrees in the UK, partly because economics graduates regularly top earning potential and recruitment lists. It can be combined with numerous disciplines in bipartite combinations, for instance politics or geography. Economists are in demand in all areas of corporate life, the financial services industries, public administration, politics and the civil service and start-ups or NGOs. Ultimately the A level gives you knowledge of issues that will affect your life in whichever career you choose and will hone your critical and evaluative skills.
‘The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists’
Joan Robinson, Old Paulina and Cambridge Professor of Economics
Qualification: A level
Mode of Assessment: 100% examination