In this post I’d like to talk about what it is like to study economics at Queen Mary, more specifically from the viewpoint of a student who had never studied economics before.
First, I’ll provide a little bit about my educational background and how I feel it has helped me. I studied Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology at A level, and Applied ICT up to AS level. Apart from Maths, which is required for BSc Economics at Queen Mary, my A Levels might not seem like they would be of much use in a university economics course. But I think that they have made the transition to university study much more smooth, as the way in which you study for a chemistry or biology exam is similar to how one would revise for an economics exam. You have a textbook full of rules, key terms, equations and diagrams, which you have to make sense of to be able to answer exam questions.
You’ll notice that there is no A Level economics listed above, and it turns out that this is the case for around 25% of the students on my course this year. Do I feel that this has put me at a disadvantage? No, not at all. You will in fact find that all the students on the course seem to be on a level playing field, and that the required concepts are covered in a way that makes them easily accessible to anyone. The differences, however, come from your mathematical ability. A good knowledge of differentiation and good all round algebra skills will really help in all modules. If you feel you need to brush up on any maths skills, the ‘maths for economics’ textbook has you covered. The book ranges from more advanced topics such as matrices and constrained optimisation, to the very basics including adding two positive numbers together.
The Principles of Economics module starts from the basics of economics including concepts such as supply and demand, as well as explaining what the subject of economics is actually about. The modules at Queen Mary will demonstrate to you just how wide ranging economics is, and this will further your interest in the subject.
So what advice would I give to a student who was looking to make the most of their economics course at Queen Mary?
-Make sure that you are confident in your mathematical ability, and practice any areas that you are unsure about
-Get used to revising with a textbook and making notes from one, as this is where most of the economics content is learned
-Do some background reading on economics issues; this could be newspapers, books, or online sources
-Enjoy your course and have an enthusiasm for your subject.
If you have studied economics before, you’ll see some familiar concepts. If you haven’t, within the first few weeks you will have all the knowledge you need to study the remainder of the course!