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Economics in practice

This is an introduction to the way that the theories and tools of economics are used in the workplace and everyday life. Using interviews with working economists and real-world examples, such as tackling flood risk, planning for climate change and using sugar taxes to improve public health, it demonstrates how economics is used and embedded in the lives that we lead. Moreover, it'll give you a taste of what it might be like to work in one of the many careers where aspects of economics would be utilised on a daily basis.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code




  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
2 8 5

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

This is a highly practical applied economics module that gives you hands-on insights into using the theories, tools and techniques of economics in three prominent areas: weighing up and comparing potential business or policy options; understanding and using economic forecasts and projections; and doing evaluations of projects and programs already undertaken. There is a strong focus on employability: interviews with employers feature throughout the study materials to give a real-world perspective on the topics covered; and the module is designed to build and develop robust skills in areas that employers value, including communication via different media to different audiences and use of spreadsheet software (Excel). 

The module is divided into four blocks:

Block 1 – Data provides an introduction to data: what it is, where to find it, some ways to generate it and how it is used, as well as the opportunities and challenges being raised by ‘Big Data’. You'll be using many different types of data in Blocks 2 to 4, and the aim in this block is to develop a critical awareness that data does not necessarily depict the world as it is or tell the whole story, and so needs to be appraised and questioned before use, which raises issues of power and how it is used to shape the narratives we tell and believe. You'll also be introduced to using a spreadsheet to process and present data, and you’ll start to develop your skills at communicating your findings, particularly around presenting data in effective and engaging ways. 

Block 2 – Options looks at how the tools of economics are used to weigh up competing choices, projects and policies in different sectors of the economy (households, business, financial investment and government) in order to select a preferred course of action. A diversity of examples and case studies are used. In particular, you'll study how the UK government decided on policies to address flood risk and, in the investment sector, the rising importance of economic, social and governance (ESG) issues both areas that are becoming increasingly prominent because of climate change. You'll be introduced to the basics of cost-benefit analysis and similar techniques as a way to appraise and compare options. You’ll continue to develop your spreadsheet and communication skills, focusing this time on creating a brief report.

Block 3 – Projections focuses in particular on how economic forecasts are used by businesses and governments to inform their decision-making. You’ll gain insights into different ways that large macroeconomic models are constructed and the implications that has for how they can be interpreted and used, for example, to examine governments fiscal policy. Alongside traditional forecasting methods, coverage includes ecological models that treat the economy as part of the larger ecosystem, gauging human impacts on the global environment and the possible effectiveness of changing policy or technology. The block also looks at microeconomic projection in the area of tax-and-benefit modelling, a basic tool in the analysis of poverty, inequality and policies such as universal basic income. You'll consolidate and extend your work with spreadsheets and collaborate on a small project with fellow students. Communication in this block focuses on the skill of creating presentations.

Block 4 – Evaluation looks at how to assess whether a project, policy or program has worked as anticipated. The block covers impact, process and economic evaluation, introducing you to widely used frameworks such as ‘theory of change’. Again, you'll be working with a wide range of real-world case studies, including an in-depth look at the use of sugar taxes to improve public health. The case studies will help you to gain an understanding of some key evaluation techniques, such as randomised controlled trials. Using the spreadsheet software, you'll get hands-on experience of working with some aspects of evaluation. You'll also develop the skill of creating effective social media communications.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your studies, you will be supported by your tutor and connected to other students through tutorials and online forums. Your tutor will run a series of online tutorials throughout the module, where you can meet your fellow students and your tutor will meet online in real time to explore the module materials and work together as a whole group and in smaller groups. You can join these from anywhere that is convenient for you through your computer or other device. Your tutor will also keep in contact by phone.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Economics in practice starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Entry requirements

There are no pre-requisites for studying this module. However, since this is a OU level 2 module, you are strongly advised to have completed your OU level 1 studies first.

Before registering for this module, to help you decide whether you're ready to study at this level, you can take our Are you ready for DD226? quiz. There is also advice on preparatory materials you can study before you start in order to be better prepared for your studies.

You will find it helpful to have previously studied some basic mathematics, and an optional self-test (for one of our mathematics modules) will help you check that you are ready for this aspect of the module. Although this has been created to test your readiness for a different module, if you can answer most of the questions in Levels 1 and 3 of the test, or could do them with a quick reminder because the topic is familiar, but you can’t quite remember the details, then you're ready to start this module. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £1818.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2031.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 19/04/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

Most weeks you will study a set of online learning materials and activities, but in some weeks your study will mainly comprise a chapter or a reading in the module textbook.

The textbook is a single volume with three parts. The first contains chapters introducing you to some key approaches to economics that will support your online studies. The second part contains readings that will extend your experience of different approaches to economic theory. The third part is a ‘toolkit’ of the main economic techniques introduced in your online studies, which you can use as a quick reference when preparing assignments and later on if you go on to use the tools of economics at work or other areas of your life.

You’ll also have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • interactive online activities
  • assignment details and resources
  • online tutorial access.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD226 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.