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Una McKillion (HOD Economics)

Fiona McCloskey (HOD Business) 


Economics and Business education helps young people understand the world around them. It enables them to understand people, businesses, markets and governments; and therefore better respond to the threats and opportunities that emerge when things change; which we know they always do!  Studying Economics and/or Business helps Loreto student in the following ways:

  • Become good citizens in a democratic society

  • Develop excellent personal decision making through an understanding of the world around them

  • Provide them with the knowledge and skills that employers want


Students at Loreto can study Economics at GCSE and/or A Level.  Many see this as an excellent opportunity to study a new and exciting area of study, where the course content is highly relevant and results are outstanding.  Students do not need to have studied GCSE Economics to begin the A Level course.

Key Stage 4



Economics is a dynamic social science, forming part of the study of individuals and societies.  Within the College it is a very popular, useful and interesting subject which has a large number of students at both GCSE and A-Level.  We live in a world in which it is impossible to ignore the importance of economic ideas.  Daily news is dominated with discussion of inflation, unemployment, the euro and membership of the EU, Trade Unions, Government deficits and Stock Exchange movements.  It is important that young people should have knowledge of these concepts.  Economics is very useful from a personal development point of view, but also as a future career area where huge opportunities are available.  Exam results have been consistently good with students frequently achieving top candidate awards in Northern Ireland at both GCSE and A-Level.  This year Fionnuala Keane placed 1st in Northern Ireland.



The subject content is divided into five areas of study and these are listed below.

  • Basic Economic Ideas                     - Scarcity and Choice

  • Producing and Consuming             - Business Costs/Demand and Supply

  • Financial Capability                         - Personal Financial Management

  • Managing the Economy                  - Inflation/ Unemployment/ Economic Growth

  • Trade, Aid and Development         - Global Economic Issues


Controlled Assessment

This is a linear specification; students take all assessments at the end of the course.  There is no Controlled Assessment.  This helps provide balance so that students are not over-burdened with exams and coursework



Paper 1          60%                1 hr 45min

The paper has a range of different question types, short answer and data response questions (which are compulsory) and one essay from a choice of three.  



Paper 2         40%                1 hr 15 min

Two data response style questions.


Skills Developed in this Subject

  • Data analysis and interpretation (including interpreting graphs).

  • Ability to calculate budgets, interest costs and exchange rates.

  • Independent research.

  • Ability to make informed personal economic choices about savings, borrowings, investments and work.

  • Appreciation of the power of consumers to affect the wider world.

  • Ability to analyse and evaluate government economic policies including ethical factors.


Students will gain confidence in the management of their own finances and become better able to understand and debate economic issues that appear on the news and affect all our lives.



Economics is an excellent career choice and works well in combination with Geography, History, ICT, Languages and Mathematics.  It is also a very good foundation for A-level Economics.  It can lead to students pursuing careers in Accountancy, Management, Business, Banking, Law, Finance and European Studies. Economics is a core element in many of these courses and therefore makes university studies that little bit easier.  In previous years, students have studied it with a Science subject to give them a broad subject balance.  Economics is a very useful subject from a personal development point of view, helping students to understand and talk about the major economic, social and political issues of the day and thus develop their knowledge of current affairs.

Key Stage 5


This subject can be taken as a new subject at A-level without having studied Economics at GCSE.  We often find these students may outperform others who have studied GCSE Economics.  Previous students will describe Economics as an enjoyable and relevant subject that has enhanced their own personal development in terms of their ability to understand and discuss real world economic, social and political issues of the day.


Subject Content

The specification addresses four compulsory modules:

1    Markets and Prices

2    The National Economy

3    Business Economics

4    The Global Economy




Module 1:  Markets and Market Failure


This AS module introduces students to the market mechanism as a means of resolving the basic economics problem of limited resources and unlimited wants.  It examines the economics behaviour of consumers and producers in competitive markets and provides students with the opportunity to consider the causes and effects of changes in supply and demand through the application of the market model.  It introduces students to the notions of market efficiency and market failure.  The possible reasons for, and consequences of, markets failing to operate efficiently are explored.  The range of possible government responses to failing markets and the likely effectiveness of these responses are considered.


Module 2:  Managing The National Economy


The AS module introduces students to the macroeconomic issues in the context of the UK and Northern Ireland economies.  The basic aggregate demand and supply model, contemporary data and data relating to the period since 1979 should be used to examine economic performance and the effectiveness of government macroeconomic policy.

AS Assessment

Module 1

50% of AS

Written Exam

1hr 30mins

20% of A Level

Module 2

50% of AS

Written Exam

1hr 30mins 

20% of A Level



Module 3:  Business Economics


This A2 module builds on the content of Module 1 to examine in more detail how production is organised and how price and output are affected by the competitive structure of the market.  Various market models are considered and their usefulness and limitations as explanations of market behaviour are explored.  Written, numerical and graphical data from a range of different sources should be examined to provide students with opportunities to interpret information from the perspective of consumers, producers and government and to propose possible solutions to problems.

Module 4:  The Global Economy


This A2 module builds on some of the content of Modules 1 and 2 to consider the theory and practice of international trade, payments and exchange.  The advantages and problems associated with specialisation and trade in an international context are investigated and the nature of the balance of payments and exchange rate determination are examined in more detail.  The domestic policy implications for the UK and Northern Ireland of recent developments such as the move towards closer economic and monetary integration in Europe and the increasing openness of work markets are explored.



Module 1       

Written Exam            


30% of A-Level


Module 2        

Written Exam            

2 hrs               

30% of A-Level

Skills Developed

Economics is the study of how people, organisations and communities make the best use of available resources.  This specification is designed to provide students with a course of study in economics which will enable them to:


  • recognise the main economic problems and issues faced by society and to comment on these in a thoughtful and informed manner;

  • develop an understanding of the complexity of economic behaviour and an appreciation of the inter-relatedness of the economic decision-making and activity of individual’s businesses, institutions, communities and governments;

  • appreciate the contribution of the discipline of economics to understanding the wider environment and society in which they live;

  • develop skills, qualities and attitudes which will equip them for the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities of adult and working life.


Students should appreciate that the AS and Advanced GCE Economics courses require them to write clearly, coherently and at length.  The courses also require them to handle numerical data and to make calculations.  Before embarking on their studies, students should therefore satisfy themselves that they possess adequate levels of literacy and numeracy to cope with the demands of the course.



Economics is an excellent subject choice – many A level students undertake courses such as Accountancy, Management, Banking, Business Studies, Law, European Studies, Finance, Politics etc.  Economics is a core element in these subjects and therefore makes university studies that bit easier.  It is a very useful subject in combination with Geography, History, English, Computers and Mathematics.  In previous years’ students have studied it along with Science subject to give them a broad balance.  Economics is a useful subject from a personal development point of view, helping you to understand and talk about the major economic, social and political issues of the day.

Past Pupil Testimonials

“I took economics as a new AS subject with no GCSE. I absolutely love it.  It provides an excellent balance for my other science based A levels.  Lessons are so interesting and I have learned things I will use forever!!”                                                              

- Clare Tracey, Year 14


“Having studied GCSE Economics, I was in no doubt about taking it for A Level.  Having the GCSE has certainly helped me.  I have really enjoyed being part of the prestigious Target  2.0 competition and can’t wait to travel to Manchester for the final.”

- Ruairi McPoland, Year 13 


Key Stage 4


Business and Communication Systems is an exciting and practical subject that allows students to engage actively in the study of business and software applications.  Students are extremely motivated by the variety of assessment methods used, leading to positive learning outcomes.  Students who study GCSE Business and Communication Systems will follow the CCEA Specification.  As a Key Stage 4 subject, students have a unique opportunity to study something different from the traditional Key Stage 3 curriculum. This offers students the opportunity to up-skill and develop new skills in a different learning and teaching environment. They do not need any prior experience in BCS to be able to complete this course; however, given the practical skills taught and learned in lessons, an excellent attendance record is vital to success.

GCSE Business and Communication Systems is divided into three units:

  • Software Applications for Business

  • The Business Environment

  • Developing Digital Solutions

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Students must complete all three units. The content of each unit is outlined in more detail below:

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Skills Developed 

  • Knowledge and understanding of Business and Digital Technologies

  • Application of knowledge and understanding

  • Develop skills and understanding in the use of software applications

  • Decision making, using data and problem solving and

  • Analysis and evaluation. 

  • The Key Skills of Communication, using Mathematics, using ICT and managing time are also developed here and can be seen to contribute to the pupils’ overall performances in both tests and coursework.


This course is very relevant to today’s business world. While it is obvious for all those wishing to take up employment in industry or pursue entrepreneurial ambition it is vitally important for all students to develop knowledge and understanding of the Business Environment. Everyone will contribute to business in some manner as an owner, employee, customer, and supplier or in various stakeholders’ capacity. Therefore, building up personal knowledge and understanding will enhance your own ideas of how the business operates. It helps students understand the changing role of ICT in business, for example the rise of e-business.  Students develop practical ICT and business skills that are useful in a range of employment roles as employers recognise and value the practical skills gained.  Upon completion of this course, students could consider studying Business and/or ICT at a more advanced level, which can lead onto relevant higher education courses in for example Business Studies, Marketing, Law, Business Management, Accounting, and Human Resources.

Key Stage 5





Course Outline


Business is a popular subject at KS5.   At the very heart of the economy, businesses encourage innovation and create wealth.   This course has been designed in collaboration with leading businesses and universities to explore all aspects of the business world including practical activities - ideal for a wide range of learning styles.   Students will gain a theoretical background reinforced with practical skills that can be transferred into third level education and the workplace.

If you enjoy research and project based work, this course offers you the opportunity to investigate the world of business through an exam-free vocational qualification, equivalent to A-Levels.  

Year 13

The business Environment*

Business Resources*

Business Accounting

Year 14

Recruitment & Selection

Managing a Business Event

Understanding Health and Safety in the Business Workplace.

Students will undertake 6 modules over the 2-year course.   The course can also be taken as an AS equivalent and so students may take the course for 1 year if they prefer.

*Compulsory units


How will I learn? 

Lessons will include a combination of theory based teaching with related coursework tasks.  Most lessons may be timetabled for IT suites, however you will be expected to complete assignments in your own time, and on an on-going basis. The contextual nature of this course lends itself to external visits to industry e.g. Glens of Antrim, Seating Matters, The Crannagh Outdoor Activity Centre etc., as well as visiting speakers to the school.  


How will I be assessed? 

There are no exams on this course. You will be assessed on the coursework pieces you complete, with some opportunity to have feedback for improvement.  All units carry Pass, Merit and Distinction criteria.  Depending on your efforts you will be awarded on this basis.   The table below demonstrates the equivalent in UCAS points if taken as a 1 or 2 year course.

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For universities that require Grades, the following table (below) demonstrates the equivalency.  This is based on entrance criteria at QUB 

(You should check each university individually). 


QUB will accept 1 vocational qualification AND 1 applied course alongside an exam-based A-level.  University of Ulster will accept up to 3 vocational courses.  This course will not be accepted for Medicine, Dentistry or Pharmacy degree course.   

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Study / Homework Requirements

Business is a rigorous subject requiring a positive, enthusiastic and consistent approach and attitude. Pupils are expected to:


  • Research topics independently

  • Expand on material given in class from newspapers, textbooks, relevant businesses

  • Complete tasks and assignments on time to the required standard

  • Present coursework evidence in acceptable formats.


This will require a minimum of one hours work per day in addition to normal class time. This should be allocated from school study periods and evenings/weekends.


Future Careers Opportunities

If you have a very clear idea on the type of degree or career you want to pursue, this course will offer you excellent industry insight into Business.  The course will help to provide students with investigative and problem solving skills that can be applied to many areas of further education and employment.   Subject specific career paths include: Business management, law, banking, accountancy, economics, finance, marketing, human resources etc.


Any Questions?

You may speak to Mrs McCloskey regarding this course.  You must also ensure you have carried out detailed research into university courses and the entrance requirements.


The Economics and Business department has a long standing history in Loreto, establishing a strong reputation as a high performing department.  Our corridors are lined with academic accolades over the decades and this continues to be the case.  Our students consistently outperform their counterparts and have been placed top in N. Ireland almost every year; at both GCSE and A Level.  We are exceptionally proud of these results and look forward to continuing this trend.

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