Doing economics: people, markets and policy
This module teaches economic theories that explain the behaviour of people in households, firms, markets and governments. You'll be presented with alternative economic explanations, enabling you to make your own critical judgements of which theory serves which purpose best. You'll also gain the research skills 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 module begins by teaching intermediate microeconomics with an emphasis on both economic theory and its applications. It is made up of the following three blocks plus an introduction to the methods used by economists to test the relevance of their models using data.
Block 1: People and Households
You'll learn about the economic theories that apply to decisions taken in various contexts, such as consumption, labour market participation, savings, investment in education and training. You'll also look at how households, as well as individuals, can make decisions.
Block 2: Firms and Industries
This 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 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 the various applications. You'll choose one theoretical strand to focus on from environmental economics, business and innovation, economics and society, or finance. You'll also start the journey towards your 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'll choose which research methods you plan to use for your project and learn more about those methods. 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'll work towards completing a project of your choice which will be your end-of-module assessment.
This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.
We strongly recommend that you study Essential economics: macro and micro perspectives (D217), planned for October 2023, or an alternative introductory economics module before studying this module.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
You’ll be provided with printed module books, each covering one block of study, and have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- module materials
- audio and video content
- assessment guide
- online tutorials and forums.
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 (11 'Big Sur' 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.