Doing economics: people, markets and policy
This module teaches economic theories that explain the behaviour of people in households, firms, markets and governments. It presents alternative economic explanations that will enable you to make your own critical judgements of which theory serves which purpose best. The module also equips you with the research skills that you’ll need to conduct your own project on a topic you want to know more about. At the end of the module, you should have developed a more critical view of the socio-economic world in which you live.
What you will study
The module will equip you with the theoretical tools necessary to investigate recent developments in the global economy. A pluralist view of economic theory is adopted, enabling you to appreciate the debates between different approaches.
The first part of the module teaches intermediate microeconomics with an emphasis on both economic theory and its applications. It is made up of Blocks 1, 2 and 3 plus two weeks of work that introduce methods used by economists to test the relevance of their models using data.
Block 1: People and Households
The first block teaches economic theories that apply to decisions taken in various contexts, such as consumption, labour market participation, savings, investment in education and training. This block also looks at how households, as well as individuals, can make decisions.
Block 2: Firms and Industries
The second block is about efficiency and productivity in the production of goods and services. It covers issues about choice of technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, employment relations, outsourcing and competition policy.
Block 3: Markets and Welfare
The final block of Part 1 covers the overall organisation of the economy. It investigates the strengths and weaknesses of markets and governments in the organisation of economic activities, explores issues concerning the environment and ethics, and looks at economic theory that underpins government behaviour.
The second part of the module is project-based and divided into Blocks 4 and 5, plus some weeks to carry out your project; you will be able to specialise in an area of your choice and carry out your own research project.
Block 4: Options
This block teaches further economic theory and its applications to various areas. You have to choose one of four available theoretical strands: environmental economics, business and innovation, finance or economics and society. You will also start the journey towards your end-of-module assessment, the research project, by learning the main components of the project and how to carry out a literature review.
Block 5: Research methods
In this block, you will choose which research methods you plan to use for your project and learn about it. You can choose between qualitative methods – which include interviewing and case studies – and quantitative methods, which involve analysis of economic data.
In the last weeks of the module, you will work towards your end-of-module assessment, completing a project of your choice.
Module books, website, online study guide, ICT tutorials and interactive online activities.
You will need
A printer would be useful.
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.
You will need a headset with a microphone and earphones if you wish to talk to your tutor and other students online during some of the module activities.
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
- macOS 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
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.