Running the economy
This module responds to the need to understand the problems of running national and global economies in the wake of a major economic crisis. You'll start with macroeconomics, looking at how economies work from global and integrated perspectives, before moving on to microeconomics, drilling down into the behaviour of people, firms and governments. This combined analysis allows you to start exploring how policy affects, and is affected by, the economy and its constituent members. Using a simulator, you'll apply what you have learned, taking on the role of an economic analyst to make or advise on policy choices.
What you will study
You'll begin by developing an understanding of the sources and nature of the economic crisis in 2008 and the economic theories and policy vehicles for dealing with it. Your journey through the module will tackle key issues including:
- the economic debates about the role of demand stimulus vs. fiscal constraint as the routes to recovery, monetary policy and the scope for supply side restructuring and growth
- the challenge of international competition for policy makers in different parts of the globe, including low cost Asian suppliers, problems of European export competitiveness and the sources and location of innovation
- the problems engendered by global imbalances in balance of payments (deficits and surpluses), credit and debt, rising inequality and the need for ‘rebalancing’ economies.
In the latter part of the module you’ll cover the microeconomic tools open to governments in trying to tackle some of these issues; regulation and privatisation/nationalisation; trade restriction and promotion; welfare state policies including health and education; international collaborations and harmonisation of policies.
Throughout the module you'll make extensive use of simulators, interviews, case studies and data to provoke reflection, analysis and deeper learning.
This module will be of interest to anyone who wants, at an introductory level, to:
- learn how to think as an economist
- understand the tools used by economists
- construct and understand informed opinions about policy choices and the state of economies.
You will learn
You will emerge with a good grasp of some fundamentals of economic theory – both macro- and microeconomic – including the Keynesian aggregate demand model, the theory behind central bank inflation targeting and the application of basic game theory. In addition, you will gain an understanding of some key theoretical and policy debates in economics, as well as confidence in applying these theories and concepts to major economic policy challenges.
This module has a student-centred approach in developing and applying economic theories and debates to serious worldwide economic problems and the critical assessment of proposed solutions. The transferable and vocational skills you’ll gain include the ability to:
- interpret, manipulate and critique economic evidence, including interpreting numerical data and basic statistical skills
- compare and contrast the most prominent economic traditions and theories from the 1930s to the present day, widely used in public debate
- build and support arguments in discussion and written forms
- use and present modelling and simulation as methods of analysis of economic problems, including simulating the macroeconomy under different policy scenarios
- engage in debates with other students, substantiating your arguments with economic theory and evidence.
This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through OU level 1 study or by doing equivalent work at another university.
We recommend starting with our key introductory module Introducing the social sciences (DD102). This interdisciplinary OU level 1 module, with its integrated teaching of key study skills, provides a firm foundation for OU level 2 study.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
Module books, website, ICT tutorials and interactive online activities.
You will need
As part of this module you will need to watch short online videos and listen to audio files. For this reason we recommend broadband access to the internet (a 512kbps service is adequate). However you can study this module if you use dial-up (56kbps) but you will need to be patient when watching video or listening to audio.
Some of the web activities in this module use the HTML 5 system. In order to display this you will need Internet Explorer 9 (or later), the latest version of Firefox or Chrome or other modern HTML 5 compliant browser. If you have a computer with a Windows XP operating system, you will need to install Firefox or Chrome or other modern HTML5 compliant browser for these activities, as you can't use Internet Explorer 8.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- Mac OS X 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.