UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)



Find out more about the Economics foundation subject on the UPC. Learn about what you will study, teaching methods, assessments and recommended reading.

Key information

Subject title: Economics

Subject type: optional

UPC pathway: UPCH

Subject leader: Dr Nalini Vittal

Number of students (2022-23): 25

Subject description

Economics is a subject on the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Humanities (UPCH) course. It gives you a thorough introduction to Economics theory and applications. It helps you learn economic reasoning to analyse simple real-life questions.

UPCH Economics aims to prepare you for a Single Honours degree in Economics at UCL or other leading universities in the UK, USA, Australia and Singapore, for example. The subject will also provide strong training for other social science degrees. Past students have progressed to both Economics and non-Economics degrees.

Topics include:

  • Production possibility frontier and opportunity cost
  • World economic systems
  • Supply, Demand, Equilibrium, Elasticity
  • The production function, cost function and technical ratios
  • Profit maximisation: equilibrium of the firm under perfect competition
  • Profit: nature and measures
  • The circular flow and the goods market
  • Measures of national income, their uses and limitations
  • Aggregate expenditure, fiscal policy
  • The assets market, monetary policy
  • Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply
  • Applied economics: the financial sector, intermediation
  • Other applied topics if time permits, including the global financial crisis of 2008

How we teach Economics

You must attend lectures and seminars throughout the academic year. Lectures are one-hour long and take place twice a week. Seminars are two hours long and occur once a week, in the week following the lecture: this follows undergraduate Economics practice.

Exercises to carry out independently for the seminars will be provided typically the week before. This allows you to revise and complete the homework; it helps you consolidate the material in the previous week’s lectures.

An essay will introduce you to the requirements of academic writing for our technical subject. This essay will form the basis of an Oral Exam before your written ‘Final’ Exam. Your seminar practice through the year will help you learn to present your work to your oral examiners and answer their questions on the essay and related topics. 

Term tests and the final exam are essential milestones in this UPCH subject. To help you prepare, there will be mocks for the two term tests. If time permits, you could take an optional mock final.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the academic year in UPCH Economics subject, you should:

  • know and understand basic economic concepts, components of economic activity, ‘command’ and other systems (this is the framework of the subject)
  • understand supply and demand under perfect competition, equilibrium, the effect of government in the market, alternative market structures and market failure (microeconomics)
  • understand national income measures, the ‘Keynesian cross’, goods and assets markets, the role of fiscal and monetary authorities in the macroeconomy, and the aggregate demand – aggregate supply model (macroeconomics)
  • understand and consider daily events using economic theory the theory (applications)
  • apply economic reasoning to simple questions from real life and solve simple numerical problems
  • feel comfortable with the specialised terminology and vocabulary for economics
  • confidently and accurately speak, write and read in Economic contexts, including facility with diagrams
  • prepare, revise, present and explain a technical essay (oral examination)
  • achieve coherence and understand the connections in the economy

Overview of Summative Assessment

OneEnd of Term Test (2 hours)5%
Mock: 0%
TwoEnd of Term Test (2 hours)5%
Mock: 0%
 Essay Coursework (c. 2,000 words)10%
ThreeOral Exam (20 mins)10%
 Final Exam (3 hours)70%
  100% Total 

Assessment weighting is for the 2022-23 academic year. This may change for 2023-24 entry.

Recommended reading

There is no required reading before you start this subject. You are strongly advised against reading an Economics textbook.

Instead of reading an Economics book, please practise high-school level mathematics and high-quality writing as preparation for this UPCH subject. 

1.    Do work through your high school final exam-level material. Practise high-school maths including graphs! (You don’t need calculus).
2.    Do read and summarise articles from international newspapers. Find some good editorials or reports about a national or international situation. Then rewrite each in short, using your own words. Practise writing!

Working through these two sets of exercises regularly over the summer will best prepare you for the UPCH Economics module. Again, do not read an Economics book.

Subject selection guide

Please check out our optional subject selection guide for information on suitable subjects for your future degree plans.

Please note the information on all the UPC subject pages, including this one, reflects the subject as it was taught in the 2022-23 academic year (unless otherwise stated).