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(Alternate title: EC1101E – Introduction to H3 Economics (but wait there’s MORE!) in 2 months)
I was interested in minoring in Economics, and decided to take this module to see how difficult economics was at university level. Spoiler: It didn’t go as expected.
What I expected
Having taken H1 economics for the ‘A’ Levels and being somewhat confident of economic theory, I thought this course would be manageable as I already had prior knowledge of most of the course material beforehand.
What I got
Economics at a H3 level (some basic Game Theory was taught) within two months. Even with an economic background and understanding most of the concepts used, it felt like a goddamn rollercoaster going over old knowledge and learning new ideas and applying them on a weekly basis. One was also up against those that had taken H2 and H3 economics, putting one at a distinct disadvantage if they had minimal background knowledge and did not put in extra time outside of lectures to catch up on course material that was not covered but taken to be common knowledge.
Put simply, most ‘A’ Level students have two years to gain a certain competency in a subject, with H3 being the highest level, H2 being a moderate level and H1 being the lowest level. If one steps into this class that presumes a basic knowledge of the module’s fundamentals without having said basic knowledge, then they are in for a wild, wild ride for two months.
[Webcasted?] Don’t think so.
[Course Material?] Slides, textbook (Principles & Applications of Economics 6th Edition by Liberman Hall) used.
Assessment & Workload
One is assessed as follows:
- Tutorial participation consisting of solving and explaining one’s solutions to tutorial problems.
- Midterm exams.
- Semester finals.
The midterm exams and tutorial participation are generally what distinguishes the A’s from the B+’s, with the A-‘s falling somewhere in between those B+’s that were lucky enough to get an A- and those A’s that were unfortunate enough to be given an A-. As many students have strong backgrounds in economics and are pretty damn motivated, expect to be fighting tooth and nail for even a decent grade.
Most economic modules do not involve much reading at lower levels aside from the textbook, but given that one will often be trying to catch up to the content of the lecture, expect a rather heavy workload for this module. Much more time will be spent reading and understanding before applying learned concepts in tutorial questions, so set aside maybe three to four hours a week early in the semester to get a good grip of the fundamentals before scaling back the time to three hours as the semester progresses.
I did decently for my midterms and averaged a B+, so I was looking at either maintaining said B+ if I didn’t get swept away in the semester finals or a B if I did.
And like a torrent of water, the semester finals ended with me getting an overall grade of a B. Even though the finals consist of both MCQ and short answer question sections, expect the MCQs to have a limit of one minute per MCQ, which is a standard not seen even in ‘A’ level papers. The difficulty of each MCQ question is exacerbated, not reduced, by having multiple options, while the short answer questions involving graph drawing and a bit of math often leaves one rushing to complete every question.
Conclusion & Tips
For those looking to major in Economics, take this module as a warning that future Economic modules are not any easier. Speaking to friends that are majoring in Econs, they indeed view this module as one of their easiest, if not their easiest, module that they have taken. Which is reasonable, considering that higher level modules are often far more difficult than the introductory modules. At some point, the economic theory transforms from words to graphs, and then using numbers and letters (algebra) to represent said graphs, before more algebra is written instead of numbers. Economics is often thought to be the most mathy of all arts modules to the extent that most joke it should be within the Faculty of Science (alongside its compatrioits of Pure/Applied Mathematics) rather than the Faculty of Arts and Social Science.
That said, one learns a lot about how the modern economy functions, which can be of help for those interested to gain a deeper understanding for themselves as opposed to taking what mass media propagates at face value. The study of economics, though made out to be a horror story within this post, is nevertheless a valuable endeavor.
- Read, read, consult. For those who suffer from brain rot due to not revising during National Service, even having an economics background will seem insufficient for this module. The lecturers and tutors are naturally glad to answer any questions you may have and clarify certain concepts or re-explain them in other terms, even though it is taking up part of their lunch time or time they could spend doing other things. Consult early before the semester finals as soon as you encounter roadblocks, for said roadblocks will only hamper future understanding at an increasing rate as the course speeds up.
- Decide early during this course if you are unsure whether to major in Economics, for this module can be a huge timesink, but it can also be worth it putting in time if you are planning to major in it. If you are simply doing it to fulfill other requirements, the bare minimum should be sufficient to get you a B-, while putting in a bit more effort should get you a B.