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Diploma in Economics - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This diploma 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 inequality, unemployment, 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 various 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 diploma, you will have the knowledge and understanding of:
  • key concepts, methods, theories and debates in economics from a pluralist perspective
  • theories of economic behaviour of firms, individuals, markets and governments at micro and macroeconomic level, and the rationale for economic policies
  • concepts and techniques of statistical data analysis applied to economic data and issues.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this diploma, you will be able to:
  • appropriately and critically use economic concepts, theories, methods and evidence to analyse socio-economic issues and construct economic arguments
  • 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 diploma, you will be able to:
  • 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

Key skills

On completion of this diploma, 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 data 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 2, you will be taught a variety of theories, skills and methods in economics and introductory statistics, which are necessary for studying successfully at OU level 3, where you will learn about economic theories, methods and techniques more in depth, and will learn more data analysis techniques.

In both modules, you will receive support and feedback from your tutor and you will collaborate with other students. The University operates a blended tuition policy across all undergraduate qualifications, with the number of tuition hours being higher at Stage 2 and declining at Stage 3 as you become more independent. Feedback on assessment is used to provide personalised support during your studies. You will also be able to receive support through online forums and other channels.

Since this qualification starts at OU level 2, there are assumptions about your basic abilities in reading and writing and basic numeracy skills, although tutor feedback on these 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 expected to have basic numeracy skills but not any data analysis skills. The numeracy and data analysis skills will be progressively taught and assessed at OU levels 2 and 3 since economics involves some emphasis on application of number.

Information technology
You are introduced to issues related to information technology in a range of modules at both levels. Work involving information technology is compulsory in both modules.

Learning how to learn
Because OU students are part-time and studying at a distance, there is strong emphasis on helping you to develop as an independent learner. You will be helped to develop basic skills (e.g. time planning, using feedback and support), and there will be increasing emphasis on reflection and learning from feedback. Most of this is not assessed directly but will be demonstrated by an increasing ability to study autonomously.

Problem-solving skills are developed by example, discussion and experience, in all teaching materials, and are assessed in both modules.

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), interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs), end-of-module assessments 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 the research skills necessary to carry out your own research project in economics.