Study Economics – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Economics is a social science that studies how societies allocate and manage their limited resources to satisfy human wants and needs. It explores the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services and the various factors that influence economic decision-making. Studying economics can be a rewarding and intellectually stimulating endeavour. It’s a social science that delves into how societies allocate and utilise resources to satisfy their wants and needs. Here’s a comprehensive subject guide for studying economics.


Table of Contents

What is Economics?

Economics is a multifaceted social science that examines how individuals, businesses, and societies allocate and manage their limited resources to fulfil human wants and needs. This field of study delves into the intricate mechanisms governing the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, shedding light on the various factors that shape economic decision-making processes. 

Moreover, economics offers valuable insights into the complex interplay between supply and demand, market dynamics, government policies, and global economic trends. By studying economics, individuals gain a deeper understanding of the forces that drive economic systems and the ways societies harness and allocate resources to satisfy their ever-evolving desires and requirements.

Ultimately, this subject examines the allocation of resources, decision-making processes, and the functioning of markets. Economics encompasses a wide range of topics and subfields, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, financial economics, and many more.

Why Study Economics?

Studying economics offers numerous benefits and provides valuable insights into the functioning of societies and economies. Here are some compelling reasons to study economics:

  1. Understanding Resource Allocation: Economics helps you understand how societies allocate scarce resources to produce goods and services. This knowledge is essential for making informed decisions in both personal and professional life.
  2. Decision-Making Skills: Economics equips you with analytical and decision-making skills. You learn to assess costs, benefits, risks, and trade-offs, which are valuable skills in various fields, including business, finance, and policymaking.
  3. Insight into Market Behaviour: Economics explains the behaviour of markets, including supply and demand dynamics, pricing mechanisms, and competition. This knowledge is beneficial for entrepreneurs, marketers, and business leaders.
  4. Policy Analysis: Economists play a crucial role in shaping public policy. By studying economics, you can contribute to designing and evaluating government policies related to taxation, healthcare, education, and more.
  5. Global Perspective: Economics has a global perspective, allowing you to understand and analyse international trade, financial markets, and economic development. This knowledge is essential in a globalised world.

Best Universities for Economics in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the QS World University Ranking:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge2273.5499.694.086.0100.0
2University of Oxford2123.4699.791.085.097.8
3London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London2093.943.7199.394.083.095.7
4University of Warwick1884.083.6898.
5UCL (University College London)1963.863.5898.491.081.093.1
6University of St Andrews2194.172.97100.
7Durham University1923.763.3299.
8University of Bath1823.812.8998.997.089.091.5
9University of Exeter1733.913.1998.
10King's College London, University of London1853.833.4697.
11University of Leeds1683.693.4299.589.091.091.2
12The University of Edinburgh1943.633.2998.
13University of Nottingham1743.753.5299.
14University of Glasgow1973.833.3999.893.071.090.4
15University of Bristol1763.553.4598.786.086.090.2
16University of Birmingham1503.933.3097.691.086.089.3
17Loughborough University1554.023.2397.585.085.088.9
18University of Sheffield1484.003.2597.985.085.088.6
19Lancaster University1463.763.3998.484.087.088.3
20University of Surrey1333.993.3796.489.090.088.1
21University of Manchester1633.773.3696.782.083.088.1
22University of Southampton1423.983.1997.987.083.087.9
23University of York1493.783.2998.585.078.087.6
24Queen's University Belfast1493.733.0896.590.079.086.7
25Newcastle University1513.653.0696.885.086.086.6
26Queen Mary University of London1563.703.4497.
27University of Liverpool1413.893.3898.
28Ulster University1214.033.2697.585.084.086.0
29Cardiff University1443.443.3398.
30University of Stirling1493.952.98100.085.9
31University of Strathclyde1924.013.2694.476.071.085.6
32Heriot-Watt University1713.883.0297.
33University of East Anglia UEA1354.053.2398.
34Aston University, Birmingham1233.803.0997.984.076.084.7
35University of Aberdeen1703.982.9698.673.074.084.7
36Royal Holloway, University of London1264.093.3598.567.067.084.0
37Nottingham Trent University1244.022.8697.976.078.083.7
38University of Kent1164.012.7696.877.086.083.4
39SOAS University of London1363.532.8095.
40Swansea University1183.953.0597.
41University of Reading1223.853.2193.483.068.082.5
42University of Portsmouth1243.913.0295.677.072.082.2
43University of Dundee1753.602.7997.760.082.082.0
44University of East London1034.432.30100.081.9
45University of Essex1134.013.4495.764.070.081.8
46University of Hull1164.272.9263.080.081.7
47University of Sussex1253.663.3493.569.078.081.6
48University of Leicester1183.663.1696.
49University of Hertfordshire1114.712.7994.857.074.080.0
50City, University of London1253.323.0095.
51University of Bradford1213.373.0395.580.0
52University of Derby944.252.3798.079.5
53University of Lincoln1233.932.7895.652.077.079.3
54University of Plymouth1143.792.8183.993.082.079.1
55University of Huddersfield1114.112.6493.661.082.079.1
56Sheffield Hallam University1063.882.5596.872.077.079.0
57Manchester Metropolitan University1204.073.0792.
58Oxford Brookes University1113.942.7597.
59Keele University1063.772.7795.
60University of Brighton1094.402.7389.178.4
61Bristol, University of the West of England1133.942.7694.562.071.077.8
62Cardiff Metropolitan University1113.862.4394.477.7
63Leeds Beckett University1093.612.2396.776.064.076.8
64University of Westminster, London1083.892.9491.858.076.076.7
65Bournemouth University1013.892.6090.470.068.076.1
66Middlesex University973.843.1587.570.076.1
67Birmingham City University1063.982.3695.656.065.075.3
68Kingston University1123.972.6691.358.054.074.8
69Coventry University1073.872.8888.
70London South Bank University933.9095.878.067.073.5
71University of Greenwich1013.902.8087.764.057.073.5
72Brunel University London1143.582.5192.
73Goldsmiths, University of London1063.7191.775.068.072.0
74University of Northampton923.961.2091.571.8
75De Montfort University923.8386.683.076.071.0
76London Metropolitan University1024.122.6076.570.9
77University of Winchester1184.1786.270.8
78University of Buckingham3.8587.566.070.069.0
79University of Roehampton873.6692.268.8

Entry Requirements for an Economics Degree

1. Academic Qualifications:

A-levels: Most universities in the UK require A-levels or equivalent qualifications. Typical offers may range from AAB to AAA, with specific subject requirements. Economics or mathematics A-levels are often preferred or required.

International Baccalaureate (IB): An IB score of around 34-38 points, with higher-level subjects in mathematics or economics, is often expected.

Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers: For students in Scotland or those taking the Scottish qualifications, AAAAB to AAAAA in Highers and Advanced Highers is a common requirement.

Access Courses: Some universities may accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas as an alternative qualification for mature students.

2. GCSE Qualifications:

You will usually need a good GCSE (or equivalent) pass in English and mathematics. Some universities may specify minimum grades in these subjects.

3. Admissions Tests:

Some universities, such as the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, may require you to take admissions tests like the Economics Admissions Assessment (ECAA) or the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA).

4. English Language Proficiency:

If English is not your first language, you will likely need to provide proof of English language proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL. Each university may have its own language requirements.

Jobs for Economics Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Economist: Economists analyse economic data, conduct research, and provide insights into economic trends and policies. They may work in government agencies, research institutions, consulting firms, or international organisations.
  • Financial Analyst: Financial analysts assess investment opportunities, analyse financial data, and provide recommendations to individuals or organisations looking to make financial decisions. They work in banks, investment firms, and corporations.
  • Data Analyst/Statistician: Data analysts and statisticians gather, analyse, and interpret data to help organisations make informed decisions. They are in demand in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and marketing.
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analysts study consumer behaviour and market trends to help companies understand their target audience and make informed marketing and business decisions.
  • Management Consultant: Management consultants advise businesses on improving their operations, strategy, and profitability. Economics graduates with strong analytical skills are well-suited for this role.

What are the Job Trends among Economics Graduates?

Among employed economics graduates in the UK, six out of the top ten jobs are associated with business, finance, and marketing. These roles include finance professionals (27%), business, research, and administrative professionals (16%), sales, marketing, and related associate professionals (6%), business associate professionals (5%), administrative occupations in finance (4%), and finance associate professionals (3%).

Salary for Economics Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £20,000

Medium-skilled: £23,000

High-skilled: £30,000

Topics for Economics Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Economics and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Market Structure and Competition: Analyse the impact of different market structures (perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly) on pricing, innovation, and consumer welfare.
  2. Consumer Behaviour: Investigate factors influencing consumer choices, such as price elasticity, consumer preferences, and the role of advertising.
  3. Financial Crises: Study the causes and consequences of financial crises, such as the 2008 global financial crisis, and explore policy responses.
  4. Trade Policies: Analyse the effects of trade policies, such as tariffs and trade agreements, on international trade patterns and economic welfare.
  5. Economic Growth: Investigate the determinants of long-term economic growth, technological progress, and income inequality.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options:

  • Finance: Finance is closely related to economics and focuses on the management of money, investments, and financial markets. Studying finance can provide insights into financial decision-making, asset pricing, risk management, and investment strategies.
  • Mathematics and Statistics: Strong quantitative skills are essential in economics. Studying mathematics and statistics can enhance your ability to analyse data, build economic models, and conduct empirical research.
  • Business Administration: Business administration programmes cover various aspects of running organisations, including management, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Understanding business operations can be valuable for economic analysis.
  • Political Science: Political science explores the theory and practice of government, policy-making, and international relations. It can provide a deeper understanding of the political forces that shape economic policies and decisions.
  • Computer Science: In the era of big data and computational economics, knowledge of computer science and programming languages can be highly advantageous for economic research and analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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