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Running the economy

Qualification dates
Start End

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.

Entry requirements

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.

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 DD209? quiz. You will also find advice on preparatory materials you can study before you start in order to be better prepared for your studies.

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

What's included

You’ll be provided with a module textbook and have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • interactive online activities
  • audio and video content
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials and forums

You will need

Some of the web activities in this module use the HTML5 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.

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 (10.15 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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance.

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 above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD209 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Running the economy starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module, Essential economics: macro and micro perspectives (D217) is planned for October 2023.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
4 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No residential school

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