Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2014 Contents 130 GOOD UNIVERSITIES GUIDE
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
Economics can be described as the science of decision-making.
It is concerned with the way society distributes and uses
resources such as land, labour, raw materials and goods and
services. It is one of the very few fields of study that is both an
academic discipline connected with a huge body of knowledge
and an occupation. Professional economists can study economic
and statistical data related to all spheres of life and society, and
often work in an advisory capacity, reporting and forecasting.
They may even plan and make policy based on their findings.
Professional economists often work in the government sector.
While the federal Treasury or the Reserve Bank may offer the
holy grail of graduate positions, you should also consider
alternate organisations that employ economists, such as unions,
publicly listed corporations, finance and insurance companies,
industry associations and universities.
You can do a degree or major in economics because you
want to be an economist, but even if you don’t, you might just find
it can offer a fascinating and broad education. Whether or not you
seek a professional career in the field, you should still expect to
need a good grasp of mathematics and English, as well as an
aptitude for investigation and analysis in order to succeed at
Other fields of study that are likely to appeal to someone
interested in economics include the business and management
field and accounting. You could even take a look at the
humanities and social sciences profile. If you enjoy working with
numbers, you might also consider mathematics and perhaps
areas like engineering and technology or computing and
Courses and specialisations
There is a fairly wide range of courses on offer in the field,
covering specialisations such as business economics, transport
economics and econometrics. The range of specialisations
reflects the different styles and approaches that economists bring
to their work. Some are very mathematical and focus on statistical
and analytical modelling that can be applied to economic
problems. Others focus on the practical details of the problems
and specialise in fields related to specific regions (such as Asian
economics) or industries (such as agricultural economics). Then
there are those that get you thinking in terms of the ‘big picture’,
such as economic history. There are, however, more options than
studying economics in a bachelor of economics degree. You can
also specialise in economics within other degrees, the most
common of which are business, commerce and finance (see the
profile for business and management).
Traditionally, the straight bachelor of economics covers a
core curriculum that features a mixture of the approaches listed
above. Microeconomics and macroeconomics, history, theory and
an introduction to the analytical and mathematical tools of the
trade are standard first-year fare. After that, students can
specialise in all sorts of fields. On the other hand, if you complete
an economics specialisation as part of a commerce or finance
degree, the general understanding is that you will have less of an
economics focus and will instead look closer at these disciplines.
You might also find economics streams that reflect this focus on
business or finance.
Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to these course
descriptions. There are some straight economics degrees with a
‘built in’ focus on a certain area (business economics, for
example), and there are economics majors in other degrees that
cover the full core curriculum.
Where to study
Look carefully at the course structure of any degree you are
considering to make sure it’s what you want. You should also
remember that this is not a profession with specific entry
requirements, so there is no need to choose a course at the
theoretical or mathematical end of the spectrum because you
think it will improve your job prospects. If you are worried about
losing out on a broad education, consider doing a more general
first degree followed by postgraduate study in economics or
choose a double degree. Economics can be paired with just
about anything — from arts, law and media studies to
engineering, science and information technology. If you plan to go
all the way through to postgraduate research work, try to do your
first degree at a university with a strong track record in economics
research. For more information about postgraduate study in
economics, refer to The Good Universities Guide to Postgraduate
Courses in Accounting, Business and Law.
To compare entry difficulty and the cost of Commonwealth
Supported Places (CSPs) at different institutions, see ‘What’s on
offer and who’s there’. Note that while public universities only
offer CSPs, private higher education providers may offer full-fee
places in this field.
To find out which higher education providers have courses with these
specialisations, use the Index on page 562.
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