While there is no formal introductory section in the syllabus, teachers must introduce students to the fundamentals of economics. The following introduction is an example of a possible unit of work to introduce students to the economics syllabus. However, teachers may wish to take an entirely different approach. This unit introduces key, overarching, economic concepts that appear throughout the course. These will be examined and assessed where they appear in the four sections of the syllabus (microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and development economics).
The purpose of this section is to introduce the basic terminology and concepts of economics. Students are encouraged to consider what markets and governments can and cannot do. This section of the syllabus gives them an early opportunity to begin to explain economic phenomena through the use of diagrams, data analysis and the evaluation of economic material. This section is intended to make students aware of the role of economics in real-world situations.
Topic covered in this Unit
Economics as a social science
- Explain that economics is a social science.
- Outline the social scientific method.
- Explain the process of model building in economics.
- Explain that economists must use the ceteris paribus assumption when developing economic models.
- Distinguish between positive and normative economics.
- Examine the assumption of rational economic decision-making.
- Explain that scarcity exists because factors of production are finite and wants are infinite.
- Explain that economics studies the ways in which resources are allocated to meet needs and wants.
- Explain that the three basic economic questions that must be answered by any economic system are: “What to produce?”, “How to produce?” and “For whom to produce?”
Choice and opportunity cost
- Explain that as a result of scarcity, choices have to be made.
- Explain that when an economic choice is made, an alternative is always foregone.
- Explain that a production possibilities curve (production possibilities frontier) model may be used to show the concepts of scarcity, choice, opportunity cost and a situation of unemployed resources and inefficiency.
Explain that the economics course will focus on several themes, which include:
- the extent to which governments should intervene in the allocation of resources
- the threat to sustainability as a result of the current patterns of resource allocation
- the extent to which the goal of economic efficiency may conflict with the goal of equity
- the distinction between economic growth and economic development.