As you begin your university course in economics, you’re probably wondering just how your studies will intersect with the world outside the classroom. In the following adapted excerpt from Foundations of Economics, author Andrew Gillespie highlights the importance of studying economics and provides visual walk-throughs of the some of the core concepts you’ll need to grasp to excel in your studies and to develop a full understanding of the economic landscape in which we live and work.
If you have ever wondered why the cost of a ticket to your favourite band’s last concert was so expensive, why you are paid so little in your part-time job, why your petrol is taxed so heavily, or why it is more expensive to get into a nightclub at weekends than during the week, or if you have ever wondered what influences the rate at which you change your currency into another when you go on holiday, why some people seem to be so much richer than others, or why some firms make more profits than others, then studying economics will be of interest to you! In fact, whether you know it or not, you are already an important part of the economic system. You are a consumer of products: every day, you are out there buying and consuming goods and services, and influencing the demand for them. You may also have a job, and so help to generate goods and services. If you are working, you are also paying taxes that are used to finance the provision of other products. However, simply being part of an economy is one thing; studying it is another.
By studying economics, you can develop an analytical approach that helps you to understand a wide range of issues from what determines the price of different products, to the causes, and consequences of unemployment, to the benefits of different forms of competition. By the end of this book, you should understand a whole range of economic issues, such as why some people earn more than others, why some economies grow faster than others, and why, if you set up in business, you might want to dominate a market.
The study of economics provides a number of models and frameworks that can be applied to a range of situations. The impact of an ageing population, price increases by your local supermarket, the returns on your investment by choosing to go to university, and the costs to society of smoking are all issues that you can analyse as part of economics once you have the necessary tools.
And at the heart of economics is human behaviour: what influences it and what happens when it changes? What makes people choose one course of action rather than another? If we want to change behaviour, what is the best way of doing this? If we want people to be more environmentally friendly, is this best achieved by taxing environmentally unfriendly behaviour? Or by subsidizing ‘good behaviour’ or by legislating? Economics affects people’s standard of living and how they live. The tax and benefits system will affect your incentive to work, your willingness to marry, to have children, to save money, and to have a pension. An understanding of economics therefore provides an insight into the factors that shape society and influence the success of your business or career.
Of course, you are not the only one wanting to understand the economy and the economic impact of policy decisions. Governments would also like to be able to influence the economy to achieve their objectives, such as faster economic growth and lower unemployment; most recently, there have been major debates on the best way to help governments to cope with major borrowings without causing another recession. Firms are interested in economic change because it will influence their ability to compete (for example, interest rates can affect their costs and demand for their products) and determine their future strategy (for example, what markets they should be targeting).
Employees are interested in economic conditions because these affect their earnings. Consumers want to know what is likely to happen to the prices of the things that they buy. Many different groups in society will therefore be interested in what influences the economy and how economies might change in the future. This probably explains why economic stories receive such media attention and why the subject has been studied so intensely over the years by economists.
Why Study Economics?
Economics is intellectually stimulating and rewarding as it provides an understanding of the 'big picture'. A Bachelor of Economics is a degree employers value because it teaches highly revered problem solving skills.
In order to understand society, the interaction of people, how and why they make decisions and how they value their resources (time, wealth etc) there must be a coherent framework for discussion. The study of economics gives you the skills to make decisions using a universal framework that can be applied to many situations. You will learn to think logically and analytically, to discuss views clearly in a variety of forums, and to write concisely.
The study of economics is a general program within which you are able to specialise in areas of your own passion or interest, including environmental economics, international studies and accounting. We now offer the Bachelor of Economics (Advanced) for those wanting a specialised degree with an empahsis on research and advanced analysis skills.
“I chose to study a Bachelor of Economics (Advanced) along with a Bachelor of Law because I felt that it would help me build the necessary skills to one day move into a leadership role. The degree has provided numerous opportunities to interact with accomplished professionals and to learn about how they got to where they are today.”James Williams, Bachelor of Economics (Advanced) and Bachelor of Law
Economics is a global language, recognised worldwide; wherever you travel your knowledge and skills will be immediately relevant.
- Why study at the University of Adelaide?
The University of Adelaide offers the widest range of course offerings in the field of economics in South Australia. We are committed to providing the very best quality learning opportunities and an excellent, well-rounded professional education. You will be given the education and encouragement to develop to your full potential; which is why our graduates make intellectual contributions at the highest levels of business, government and the community.
The School of Economics is also one of the few schools which offers graduate-level coursework components for Masters and PhD degrees within Australia.
- Is a Bachelor of Economics for me?
The Bachelor of Economics does not have any Yr 11 or 12 prerequistes, but some maths studies are recommended as economics involves aspects of applied mathematical studies. Economics in secondary school may be advantageous, but is not essential. First year economics lecturers assume students have not studied economics previously. English in secondary school is also recommended, as essay writing skills are useful in all University courses.
Half of the courses in a Bachelor of Economics degree are in the area of Economics, and the other half of the degree is made up of elective courses. You can choose further economics courses or courses from other disciplines, such as:
- Environmental or Development Studies
- Computer science
You will complete your degree in 3 years of full time study, or you can choose to take your studies part-time.
The Faculty of the Professions Professions Support Hub can tell you more.
- 10 reasons to undertake our Master of Applied Economics
1. Prepares you to have impact and make a difference in a rewarding career. Economists make the world a better place through their impact on decision-making. Our Master of Applied Economics graduates make a difference by helping to improve public policy, business, consumer and other decisions. Economists may be the ultimate decision-makers, key advisers or researchers who generate new knowledge. Graduates of our Master of Applied Economics hold very senior positions all over the world with leading companies and government institutions. Read more.
2. Tailored to suit your background. Our Master of Applied Economics is open to all students with a good undergraduate degree. Prior studies in economics are not required. For students with no prior economics studies, the degree takes 2 years (that is, 4 semesters) to complete. For students with prior economics studies, the duration may be less with the degree taking 1.0 or 1.5 years to complete (depending on the extent of prior economics studies.
3. Options to fast-track your studies. Summer School and Winter School options are available to further reduce the time taken to complete the Master of Applied Economics.
4. Specialisations tailored to your interests. You may choose to undertake a generalist Master of Applied Economics degree (with no specialisation) if you wish to take a wide variety of courses. Alternatively, you may choose from 3 deep specialisation options: Economic Theory, International Economics or Public Policy. Your chosen specialisation appears on your graduation certificate. You do not need to make a decision regarding your specialisation (if any) until the end of your first semester.
5. Scholarships. Ten $10,000 merit-based scholarships are available each year. Read more.
6. Potential to work in Australia post-graduation. Any person who undertakes our Master of Applied Economics is eligible to apply for a 2-year Post-Study Work Rights Visa (even if the Master of Economics is completed in less than 2 years).
7. Excellent student satisfaction with our degree, our teaching and skill development. The latest available data from the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), an independent survey undertaken by Graduate Careers Australia, show that our Master of Applied Economics received the maximum possible scores on student responses for:
- Overall satisfaction with program quality
- ‘Good teaching’ – the nature of teaching experience during the program
- ‘Generic skills’ – the enhancement of selected generic skills, including analytical, communication, planning, problem solving and teamwork skills
8. Optional pathway to PhD. If, after commencing your Master of Applied Economics, you wish to pursue a PhD, then (subject to satisfactory performance), a pathway is available to entry into our PhD program.
9. Study at a great university.
10. Live and study in beautiful Adelaide and South Australia.
More information on our Master of Applied Economics is available here.