England.  Change location

BA (Honours) Economics - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This degree aims to provide you with:

  • a good knowledge of economic theories and techniques that will enable you to analyse some of the most compelling challenges facing us today, such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, ageing population, issues facing business, international trade, market power and competition
  • a set of transferrable skills that are highly valued by employers in many different industries
  • a good grounding in a broad range of analytical and statistical skills for you to conduct your own economics project
  • the skills and knowledge to engage in economic debate, critically evaluate different economic points of view and their policy implications, and to assess different kinds of evidence and their usefulness in relation to economic theories.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts, ideas, methods and theories from the discipline of economics from a pluralist perspective
  • a range of contemporary debates in economics, particularly as they apply to our understanding of the contemporary social world
  • how to apply economic concepts, ideas, methods and theories to analyse economic issues, to engage in economic debate, and to develop a capacity for critical reading of the specialist economic and business press and the results of economic research
  • ideas and techniques of statistical data analysis and statistical modelling applied to a variety of topics with specific emphasis on economic data and issues

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • appropriately and critically use economic concepts, theories and evidence to construct economic arguments and apply them to analyse socio-economic problems
  • analyse, compare and evaluate different theoretical approaches, understanding how different approaches work to highlight and explain different aspects of the economy and society
  • understand, evaluate and manipulate information presented through primary and secondary sources and statistical analysis, and use modern statistical software appropriately
  • integrate diagrammatic, mathematical, statistical and verbal analysis of economic issues
  • plan and undertake a piece of personal research in the area of economics, making use of appropriate documentary, statistical or field based sources and utilising appropriate methodologies

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • apply economic theory and techniques to a variety of applied topics and practical problems
  • appraise, monitor and reflect constructively on your own personal progress, use skills to improve own learning and performance, including learning from feedback, and identify own strengths, weaknesses and preferences relating to work and other interests
  • plan workload and meet deadlines over an extended period of time under increasing levels of pressure
  • work independently to analyse a research question using quantitative and/or qualitative data
  • engage in collaborative activity with others
  • plan and review study pathway to link with personal and/or career goals

Key skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • use and communicate economic ideas clearly and coherently, using appropriate technical and non-technical language, and using a form, structure and style that suits the purpose
  • select, interpret and synthesise information from a range of sources, including qualitative and quantitative data, and evaluate its significance
  • interpret economic and statistical data presented in tabular, chart and graphic form, and select appropriate data analysis tools and methods to analyse economic issues being aware of their limitations
  • search, process and prepare information using ICT applications, such as statistical software packages, websites, databases and interactive and multimedia applications, and integrate this information within established understandings, or show how it challenges them

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are acquired at all levels through published distance-learning materials, including specially written study materials, study guides, assignments and project guides; through a range of multimedia material; through specified work using computer software; through work on original texts; and through feedback on assignments.

At OU level 1, you will be taught a variety of skills and methods in economics, personal finance, mathematics and statistics, which are necessary for studying successfully at OU levels 2 and 3, where you will learn about core economic theories, methods and techniques more in depth, and will learn more data analysis techniques.

You will receive support and feedback from your tutor and in some modules you will collaborate with other students. The University operates a blended tuition policy across all undergraduate qualifications, with the number of tuition hours and the proportion of face-to-face tuition being considerably higher in the key introductory module and gradually declining through Stages 1, 2 and 3 as students become more independent. Feedback on assessment is used throughout all modules to provide personalised support during your studies. You will also be able to receive support through online forums and other channels.

The open nature of entry to the OU means there is some emphasis on reading and writing skills at OU level 1. At subsequent levels there are assumptions about your basic abilities in these areas, although tutor feedback on writing skills continues to be important. However, the material from which you work becomes increasingly complex and diverse, and more sophisticated skills of interpretation, selection and synthesis are required.

Application of number
You are taught the more basic of these skills at OU level 1. They continue to be taught and assessed at OU levels 2 and 3, especially in the data analysis modules, although also in the economics modules there is significant emphasis on application of number.

Information technology
You are introduced to issues related to information technology in a range of modules from OU levels 1 to 3. Work involving information technology is compulsory in most modules in this programme.

Learning how to learn
Because most OU students study part time and at a distance, there is strong emphasis on helping you to develop as an independent learner. At OU level 1 this means helping you to develop basic skills (e.g. time planning, using feedback and support), but also laying the foundations for the increasing emphasis on reflection at OU levels 2 and 3. Most of this is not assessed directly but will be demonstrated by an increasing ability to study autonomously.

Problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills are developed by example, discussion and experience, in all teaching materials, and are assessed in most of the modules in this programme.

The strategy for assessment and feedback includes a mix of assessment methods throughout the qualification. Assessment at all levels is usually via tutor-marked assignments (TMAs), computer-marked assignments (iCMAs), end of course assignments and examinations. The range of techniques covered by these assignments is broad, often including essay questions, as well as more technical exercises and projects. At OU level 3, you will be taught research the skills necessary to carry out your own research project in economics.