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Learning programme design

Setting up


Designing an economics programme

Students may choose to study economics for the first time at any level, and they may take a course for less than a full year. If a course is for a short period of time the teacher needs to decide on the essential elements that the course would include to allow students to continue with economics at a higher level.

For example:

  • At level 6 a partial course of study for a student intending to move on to higher levels in economics will need to include supply and demand and market equilibrium.
  • Students who begin their economic studies for the first time at level 7 may need an introductory module or unit covering the supply and demand model.

Schools typically offer a two- or three-year programme for senior economics. The following outline suggests some contexts in which key concepts and economic tools could be introduced at level 6, level 7, and level 8.

Economic tools include:

  • models, such as the circular flow model
  • skills, such as analysis skills
  • language, such as the specialist language needed to discuss macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Schools can adapt these outlines and add to them in order to meet the identified needs and interests of their students.

Suggestions for integrating contexts, concepts, and tools at level 6, 7, 8

Level 6


  • Consumer/ producer/ government/ market
  • New Zealand economy

Key concepts

  • Profits and prices play essential roles in a market economy.
  • Opportunity cost (= the real cost of decisions).
  • Interdependence
  • Economic decisions and events have flow-on effects that may be perceived differently by different groups.

Tools (models, skills, language)

  • Supply and demand model (to analyse the effect of events on the market).
  • Circular flow model (to analyse the interdependence between sectors of the economy).
  • The skills to undertake a cost-benefit analysis that evaluates options and recognises opportunity costs.
  • The language and vocabulary of economics.

Level 7


  • Inflation
  • Economic growth
  • International trade

Key concepts

  • Real indicators are a better measure than nominal indicators.
  • The standard of living depends on productivity, that is, on the quantity and quality of the goods and services a country can produce.
  • Countries can generally benefit from trade.
  • The interdependent nature of the economy.
  • The role of policy in achieving government objectives.

Tools (models, skills, language)

  • Aggregate supply and aggregate demand model (to analyse the impact of events on the New Zealand economy).
  • Production possibility curve model (to analyse international trade and economic growth).
  • Supply and demand model (to analyse the impact of international trade).
  • The ability to analyse government policies and recognise that they may be in conflict.
  • The language and vocabulary of macroeconomics.

Level 8


  • Market efficiency
  • Market failure
  • Macreconomics

Key concepts

  • Rational economic decisions are usually made at the margin – one more or less rather than all or nothing.
  • People respond to incentives; decisions are often based on enlightened self-interest.
  • The market generally works well, but government may intervene to improve the outcome.
  • Real values are a better indicator than nominal values.
  • Government policies to achieve economic objectives will be influenced by the business cycle and may be in conflict.

Tools (models, skills, language)

  • The skills to undertake a marginal analysis to recognise market equilibrium in both the short and long term.
  • Knowing the term elasticity and how to use it to describe the responsiveness of consumers and producers to market changes.
  • The skills to distinguish between private and social equilibrium and to recommend appropriate policies and interventions to correct a market failure.
  • The skills to recommend appropriate government stabilisation and development policies in response to New Zealand’s current position on the business (trade) cycle.
  • The language and vocabulary of microeconomics and macroeconomics.

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Last updated March 21, 2012