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Economics for a changing world

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Looking through the lens of competing economic theories and policies, you will learn how economics can help analyse the current challenges facing the global economy. This will include how to manage a country’s economic growth in a globalised world; the socio-economic impacts of international trade; how multinational companies influence the distribution of wealth through global value chains; the role of finance for economic development; the causes and consequences of financial crises and how to address the challenge of climate change.

What you will study

The module equips you with the theoretical tools necessary to understand contemporary developments in the global economy. A pluralist view of economic theory is adopted, enabling you to appreciate the debates between different approaches. You'll learn about international macroeconomics, with discussions of international transactions, growth, trade, finance, the climate crisis and more. The module is made up of the following three blocks, plus additional sections that aim to develop skills that are part of the economist’s skill set, such as mathematical modelling, debating on economic issues and using MS Excel. 

Block 1: The Big Questions and Initiatives
Block 1 identifies the global economic challenges of the twenty-first century in a historical perspective, the actors behind global economic governance, and the different types of economic goals identified by international institutions. It also discusses accounting methods for analysing international transactions and how economists choose and use economic models.

Block 2: Growth and Trade
In this block, you'll learn theories of growth, which explain what factors drive economic development and their implications for inequality. You'll also learn the core theories describing global commercial interactions, such as trade between countries. For example, how multinational corporations are key players in global networks of production and what are the economic mechanisms that determine distinctive power distributions across global social actors.

Block 3: Finance, Macroeconomics, and Global Challenges
Block 3 analyses the open economy, including the role of finance in development, the challenges that international financial transactions pose to policymakers, and economic and financial crises. It also looks at the suitability of traditional models to analysing new global economic challenges on the horizon, including the climate and care crises. You'll also have the opportunity to debate with your fellow students on an international economic policy issue.

Throughout the module, you'll develop a set of mathematical skills, including introductory calculus and how economists use mathematics to model global economic challenges.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements. However, this is an OU level 3 module, and therefore it builds on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. OU level 3 modules 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 an introductory economics module, such as Essential economics: macro and micro perspectives (D217), before studying this module.

DD321 also teaches a few economics models that use mathematical methods, including calculus. The module materials include a week of activities to help with the revision of algebra, graphs, equations and logarithms, but if it is a long time since you last studied mathematics, we suggest that you study Discovering mathematics (MU123) or an alternative mathematical module at pre-calculus level before studying DD321.

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

What's included

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • audio and video content
  • computer-based interactive activities
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials and forums
  • resources to prepare for a debate with other students.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD321 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

Economics for a changing world 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 2033.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)