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BSc (Honours) Economics and Mathematical Sciences - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This programme aims to provide you with:

  • the mathematical and economics skills and knowledge required for a range of jobs in government, business, accountancy, banking, management and administration, the voluntary sector and teaching
  • a good grounding in a broad range of mathematical, statistical and computational skills
  • a good basic knowledge of economic theory together with an understanding of economic issues
  • the skills and knowledge to engage in economic debate and to assess different kinds of evidence and their usefulness in relation to economic theories.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this degree provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • debates concerning the economic, social and cultural processes that have produced modern economies and societies and are transforming them now
  • a range of economic theories and the ability to apply them to economic issues and problems; an ability to engage in economic debate, including a capacity for critical reading of the specialist economic and business press and the results of economic research
  • relevant aspects of current research and scholarship within economics
  • ideas and techniques of statistical data analysis, of discrete mathematics (including matrices), of calculus and of mathematical and statistical modelling
  • arguments based on mathematical and statistical reasoning and a general appreciation of the setting and breadth of application of statistics, and to a lesser extent mathematics, in today’s world
  • the role of statistical and mathematical software in the modelling process.

Cognitive skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to:

  • define and use key terms within economics, mathematics and statistics
  • construct economic, statistical and mathematical arguments with appropriate and critical use of concepts, theories and evidence
  • recognise the importance of modelling in economics, statistics and mathematics, and create and reason with appropriate economic, mathematical and statistical theories and models
  • apply skill in mathematical manipulation and calculation, and in the appropriate use of modern mathematical and statistical software
  • apply judgement in the selection and application of statistical, mathematical and economic tools and techniques
  • plan and undertake a piece of personal research in the area of economics, making use of appropriate documentary, statistical or field-based sources and utilising appropriate methodologies.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to:

  • apply core economic, statistical and mathematical theory, as well as analytic and modelling techniques, to a variety of applied topics and practical problems
  • communicate economic, statistical and mathematical ideas in a clear and logical manner to non-specialists
  • exercise informed independent and critical judgement in thinking about economic issues
  • understand, and be capable of critical reasoning about, random variation in real-world contexts.

Key skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


  • select, read, summarise and synthesise information material, including information in the form of text, numerical data and diagrams, in an appropriate way and identify what is relevant
  • use and communicate economic, mathematical and statistical ideas, solutions and results clearly and coherently, using appropriate technical and non-technical language, and using a form, structure and style that suits the purpose
  • integrate diagrammatic, quantitative and verbal analysis of economic issues
  • reference sources in an appropriate way.

Application of number

  • perform basic and more complex numerical operations
  • interpret economic and statistical data presented in tabular, chart and graphic form
  • undertake descriptive data analysis and interpret the results
  • select appropriate data analysis tools and methods to address an economic or statistical problem or issue and be aware of their limitations
  • understand the limitations of data analysis in assessment and forecasting in economic and similar contexts.

Information technology

  • access information from multimedia sources
  • use statistical and mathematical software packages
  • process and prepare information using computers.

Improving your own learning and performance

  • analyse tasks and make plans for tackling them
  • plan and manage time, including meeting deadlines over an extended period of time
  • identify and use sources of support
  • learn from feedback
  • study and learn independently
  • monitor and reflect on personal progress, identifying own strengths and weaknesses, and use skills to improve own learning and performance.

Problem solving

  • explore and solve extended problems, in the context of statistical modelling and of a piece of personal research in economics.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are acquired at all levels through published distance-learning materials, including specially written study materials, study guides, assignments and project guides; through a range of multimedia material; through specified work using computer software; through work on original texts; and through feedback on assignments.

Cognitive skills and processes are introduced at a simple level in the mathematical sciences at OU level 1, primarily via material specifically designed to develop these skills in a progressive way. Although modules at OU levels 2 and 3 continue this work, there is significant variation among modules in the degree as to which skills are taught explicitly in the study materials. Significant teaching is, however, maintained through the assessment strategy and tutor feedback.

In addition, discipline-specific skills from economics and the mathematical sciences will be developed and assessed. The combination of skills that will be taught and learned depends partly on the choice of optional modules.

Several of the practical and/or professional skills (listed above) refer to the vocational relevance of the degree. Whilst not occupationally specific, all teaching and assessment strategies will help you develop knowledge and skills that are transferable to the workplace, whatever combination of modules you take.


The open nature of entry to the OU means there is some emphasis on reading and writing skills at OU level 1. At subsequent levels there are assumptions about your basic abilities in these areas, although tutor feedback on writing skills continues to be important. However, the material from which you work becomes increasingly complex and diverse, and more sophisticated skills of interpretation, selection and synthesis are required.

Application of number

Again, you are taught the more basic of these skills at OU level 1. They continue to be taught and assessed at OU levels 2 and 3. Much of the teaching and learning material in mathematical sciences modules is naturally in this area. In the economics modules there is also considerable emphasis on application of number.

Information technology

You are introduced to issues related to information technology in a range of modules from OU levels 1 to 3. Work involving information technology is compulsory in most, though not all, of the compulsory and optional modules in this programme.

Learning how to learn

Because OU students are part-time and studying at a distance, there is strong emphasis on helping you to develop as an independent learner. At OU level 1 this means helping you to develop basic skills (e.g. time planning, using feedback and support), but also laying the foundations for the increasing emphasis on reflection at OU levels 2 and 3. Most of this is not assessed directly but will be demonstrated by an increasing ability to study autonomously.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are developed by example, discussion and experience, in all teaching materials, and are assessed in most of the modules in this programme.

Assessment at all levels is usually via tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and examinations. The range of techniques covered by these assignments is broad, including among others essay questions (in statistics as well as economics), as well as mathematical problems, modelling exercises and (depending on the choice of options) brief projects. Certain modules also use computer-marked (multiple-choice) assignments (CMAs). The OU level 3 microeconomics module assessment includes a piece of independent research.

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