GCSE Economics

Economics is the study of the allocation of scare resources between competing uses

Our society is increasingly defined by scarcity. Citizens are facing longer waiting times in NHS hospitals, shortages of affordable housing and overcrowding on public transport. Even in the fifth richest country in the world, it can seem there is a shortage of these essential services.  As resources become more scare and deciding how they are shared seems more arduous, understanding of economics becomes increasingly useful. Economics studies how these choices are made, ultimately explaining where and how resources are allocated. 

Ashbourne students examine everyday events and activities and discuss how and why they are shaped by economics. This helps them see the practical impact of economics and enables them to develop a theoretical understanding of the subject too. They are encouraged to keep up to date with current affairs to provide depth to their studies and are given plenty of exam practice to help them achieve the best results.

Over the course students become more adept at analysing the world around them, articulating their own views and developing the skills to make better decisions for themselves.

Why study Economics?

Whether you have just bought a Gucci bag for half price, received ‘free’ healthcare from the NHS, borrowed £10 from your friend or have just launched your own app that will make you a millionaire, you are part of the global economic system.

Studying Economics will help you understand why prices fluctuate, where taxes go, how government legislation can push people to change their spending habits (or not), why some companies dominate their market, how global or societal changes like climate change and ageing can have an impact on a country’s economy, why people fight for resources and why certain economies grow faster than others.

You will also learn how to analyse complex issues, think strategically, monitor the political climate, understand commercial incentives, problem solve, interpret statistics and data, explain your ideas clearly and be ready for any eventuality – all highly desirable and transferable skills.

Why Study GCSE Economics at Ashbourne?

Ashbourne offers students individual attention and feedback, with classes typically consisting of between seven and ten students. Active contribution to classes is always strongly encouraged, with student-led discussions developing engagement with different economic schools of thought. Longer two hour lesson periods affords students the opportunity to apply concepts to practice questions straight away, with teacher support on hand to offer clarification and further guidance.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the OCR specification for GCSE Economics.

What is covered in this course?

Students will be introduced to major terms, concepts and players in economics, begin to explore the role of markets and money, examine economic objectives and the role of government, and take a look at international trade and the global economy.

IntroductionMarkets and moneyEconomic objectives and governmentInternational trade and the global economy
Introduction to Economics
Students are introduced to the main economic groups (consumers, producers and government), how they interact and how they engage with and have an impact on the economy. They explore the factors of production (land, labour, capital and enterprise) and examine how they might be combined. They look at the problem of scarce resources and question how resources should be allocated and how goods and services should be produced, and for whom. They will look at the costs and benefits of economic choices, in a variety of contexts, and consider the moral, ethical and sustainability consequences.
Students examine the role of markets and how they work in terms of supply and demand, price, competition, production, labour and the role of money and financial markets.
Students study economic growth (how it’s measured; factors affecting growth like investment, resources and policy; impact on society, the environment and sustainability), low unemployment (what it means; how it’s measured; historical comparisons; types; causes and consequences), fair distribution of income (types of income and difference between income and wealth; calculating income and wealth; causes and consequences of income and wealth distribution difference for the economy).

Student will also learn about price stability (stability and inflation, real and nominal; Consumer Price Index; impact of inflation on goods; historical trends; causes and consequences for consumers, producers, savers and government), fiscal policy (purpose and sources, including taxes, of government spending; budget, surplus and deficit; using fiscal policy to achieve economic goals; how taxes and spending affect the economy; costs and consequences of achieving goals and redistributing income and wealth), monetary policy (what it is; how it affects growth, employment and price stability; impact on consumer spending, borrowing, saving and investment), supply side policies (what it is, how and whether it works), limitation of markets (positive and negative externalities; government taxes, subsidies, state provision, legislation and regulation and information provision; use, impact and evaluation of government policies).

Students learn about the importance of international trade (why countries import and export goods and services; free trade agreements), balance of payments (balances, surplus, deficit; historical trends; impact on the national economy), exchange rates (supply and demand; currency conversions; impact of changes on consumers and producers), globalisation (driving factors; measurement including life expectancy, health care and education; costs and benefits including impact on economic, social and environmental sustainability; impact on less developed countries).

What skills are required to study GCSE Economics? 

The qualities needed to become a successful student of GCSE Economics are an enquiring mind and curiosity about the economic world you observe. Students should be willing to engage with current economic issues and consider different perspectives. The subject requires both written and numerical analysis, with students supported in developing both from the start of the course to help build exam confidence. Building these skills will equip students to better interpret economic events and explain what they observe in their everyday lives. Expanding students’ analytical skills will not only aid their study of economics, but can be applied to a range of disciplines throughout A level study and beyond.

Who teaches this course?

Adam McMaster

Bsc Economics and Political Science (University of Birmingham)

Adam joined Ashbourne following his recent graduation from the University of Birmingham. As well as teaching economics he also runs the Ashbourne Finance Programme, designed to give students the best chance of gaining a place at top UK universities to study Finance and related subjects.

Adam presents economics as a tool to explain the successes and failures of modern society and illustrates how better understanding of theory could propose solutions to such failures. He’s keen on the development and history of economic schools of thought, and closely follows the micro-economic changes in the housing market and higher education.

Stefania Spinu

MA Economic Policy and Analysis, Economics of Sustainable Development (University of Nantes, France); BA Economics (University of Bucharest ASE); PGCE Economics (Institute of Education, UCL)

Stefania specialises in economic analysis and environmental and sustainable economics. She was also an Edexcel examiner for Economics at GCSE and A level.


OCR GCSE (9-1) Economics by Clive Riches, Christopher Bancroft and Jan Miles-Kingston

Suggested reading

Economics: A very short introduction by Partha Dasgupta
Dasgupta describes the two contrasting lives faced by a child in Ethiopia and the USA, using economics to explain how the difference in living standards arose and what might be done to change this.

23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism by Ha Joon-Chang
In this contrarian book, Ha-Joon Chang challenges the biggest myths of our times and shows us his alternative economic thinking. Chang critiques a wide range of conventional thinking from the influence of the internet and globalisation.

LSE Blogs
Highly insightful short pieces written by experts from a number of fields on economics and political events, both current and historical, from the London School of Economics.

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