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Economics for a changing world

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Looking through the lens of competing economic perspectives, you will learn how economics can help analyse many current challenges facing the global economy, such as how to manage a country’s economy in a globalised world; the economic impact of international trade; how multinational companies influence global value chains; how to finance 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, and finance. 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 skills set, such as mathematical modelling, critical thinking 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 models.

Block 2: Growth and Trade
In this block you'll learn theories of growth, which explain what factors drive economic growth and their implications for inequality. You'll also learn the core theories describing global economic interactions, such as trade between countries, as well how multinational corporations are a key player in the way global networks of production (global value chains) are organised, also highlighting the important role of power of large multinationals in the global economy.

Block 3: Finance, Macroeconomics, and Global Challenges
Block 3 analyses the open economy, including the of role of finance in development, the challenges that international financial transactions pose to policy makers, 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 Running the economy (DD209) (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.

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 (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.

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 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 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 2022. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school