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

The Economics foundation subject is an optional part of the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Humanities (UPCH) course. You’ll have a thorough introduction to Economics theory and applications. You’ll 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 another leading UK university. The subject will also provide strong training for other social science 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
  • 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 financial crisis of 2008.

How we teach Economics

You’ll 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.

You’ll have exercises to carry out independently for the seminars. This is to check you’ve understood the material included in the lecture the previous week.

You’ll complete an essay to introduce you to the requirements of academic writing in a technical subject. This essay will form the basis of an Oral Exam you’ll take before your written ‘Final’ Exam. Your seminar practice through the year will help you learn to present your work to examiners and answer questions on the essay and related topics.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the Economics foundation 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, and alternative market structures [microeconomics]
  • understand national income measures, the ‘Keynesian cross’, goods and assets markets, and the role of fiscal and monetary authorities in the macroeconomy [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 work with diagrams
  • prepare, revise, present and explain a technical essay [oral examination].

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 current academic year. This may change for 2022/23 entry.

Recommended reading

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

Instead of doing so, please practise high-school level mathematics and writing as preparation for this UPCH subject.

  1. Do work through your high school final exam-level material. Practise high-school maths including graphs!
  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 2 sets of exercises regularly over the summer will best prepare you for the UPCH Economics module.

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).