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Can You Study Economics Without Maths?

By Lucy, published on 11/07/2018 Blog > Academia > Economics > Is it Possible to Study Economics Without Maths?

Although it may not seem like it at first glance, maths and economics go hand in hand. This is because, due to the sheer number of economic theories and theoretical models out there that have a numerical element, some level of mathematical numeracy is needed to be able to create, interpret and analyse economic models.

Oddly enough though, the link between maths and economics is not often emphasised at GCSE or A-Level. As a result, a number of students who go on to complete an economics A-Level are unaware of the importance of mathematics and do not take maths as an accompanying A-Level.

Equally, there are a number of students who may not realise that they’d like to study the social science that is economics at a university until late in the university application process. As a result, such students may also not have a maths A-Level under their belt when the time comes to apply to university.

Universities Love Maths

Not having a maths A-Level can cause problems for any aspiring economist when applying for an economics undergraduate degree at university. This is because many universities require, or expect, a student to have completed a maths A-Level prior to applying.

Many universities actually place a higher value on having a good mathematics A-Level over taking economics at A-Level, when it comes to applying for economics degrees.

This can result in students feeling disheartened, and feel like they can’t apply for an economics degree because they didn’t take the right qualifications or subject combinations at school.

However, there is good news. Plenty of universities in the U.K. will accept applications from students who don’t offer an A-Level in maths when they apply. In fact, some universities don’t even need you to have completed an economics A-Level to get onto an economics undergraduate course.

This means that there are lots of opportunities out there for students – it’s just a case of knowing where to look.

Finding An Economics Degree Without Maths A-Level

The fact is that, without a maths A-Level, there will be some university economics courses that you won’t be able to pursue.

However, there are also plenty of universities that do not require an A-Level in maths, so it’s a case of keeping an eye out for those universities.

Courses That Emphasise Maths A-Level

Courses that require maths at A-Level are, perhaps unsurprisingly, very focused on the numerical and statistical principles of economics and associated economic data. Universities such as University College London and the London School of Economics, for example, both require applicants to have maths at A-Level.

In fact, the LSE goes a step further and states that they recommend applicants are studying towards an A-Level in Further Mathematics or have an A grade in AS-Level Further Mathematics.

Maths is crucial for some university economics degrees. You can study for an economics degree without maths A-Level, but some courses do have maths as a prerequisite. (Source: CC0 1.0, ArtsyBee, Pixabay)

Courses That Do Not Require Maths A-Level

However, other degree courses do not place so much emphasis on maths or structure the course to accommodate for those that may not have studied maths past GCSE.

The University of Nottingham, for instance, does not require applicants for its undergraduate economics courses to have either economics or maths at A-Level. What’s more, the amount of maths you student throughout the degree is largely down to your own preference and the elective topics on offer, aside from a few compulsory modules around:

  • Quantitative Economics; or
  • Mathematical Economics

However, they do say on their frequently asked questions that, while maths is not a requirement to apply, it is viewed positively and may improve a student’s application outcome and chances of being accepted on the course.

Equally, the University of Sussex offers a BA in economics, which only requires a grade B in GCSE maths in order to apply, although in terms of A-Level results they generally expect grades between AAB-ABB.

The University of Leicester is another university that doesn’t require students to have a maths A-Level to apply for their BA economics course, so there are many places that will accept students that haven’t studied maths.

As a word of warning, although economics degrees may not require an A-Level in maths, those universities usually expect their students to have strong results in GCSE maths at a minimum, so it’s worth double-checking whether your GCSE maths results will meet the entry criteria for the course.

Additionally, please note that the above universities are just a selection of institutions that offer economics degrees. As ever, it’s worth taking time to conduct your own research into different universities, and see whether their entry requirements match your own grade expectations and subject combinations.

The University of Sussex library. The University of Sussex allows undergraduates to study economics without maths A-Level. (Source: Public Domain, The Voice of Hassocks, Wikimedia Commons)

BA or BSc?

One of the other things to consider when looking at undergraduate economics degrees is whether you’d like to complete a:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA); or
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc).

Typically, a Bachelor of Science will focus more on the numerical side of economics, and typically includes courses that require maths at A-Level as an entry requirement. In contrast, a university that awards a Bachelor of Arts for its economics degree usually has less focus on maths and statistics.

Knowing the difference between a BA and a BSc may, therefore, give you some indication of the course’s content and whether it would suit your own preferences.

However, there are some universities that let you work towards a BSc without having a Maths A-Level. Nottingham University, for example, offers undergraduates the choice about whether to graduate with a BA or BSc as their course progresses, so you can make a more informed decision about which path you’d prefer to study once you’re at university.

Although the course content of a BA and BSc economics course may be different, the type of degree you leave university with should not have a huge impact on the kind of graduate jobs you can apply for.

As such, your main focus when the time comes to applying for jobs or an internship is to be on track for a good degree (usually considered to be 2:1 or above) rather than focus on the distinction between a BA and BSc.

A large book that has been placed on a table in a library and opened down the middle. You can study economics at university without a maths degree, but you'll need to look around at different universities. You can take economics without maths A-Level at university, but you should do some research to determine which universities do not require maths for their undergraduate courses. (Source: CC0 1.0, kshelton, Pixabay)

An Economics Degree Without Maths Still Offers Great Career Opportunities

It’s important to remember that an economics degree is still a highly regarded degree in the U.K., regardless of whether your course has a focus on maths or statistics, or is more concerned with economic theories and principles.

Economics graduates on average tend to do well in the workforce, compared to other degree subjects such as psychology or history. A degree in economics also equips you with key skills such as:

  • Analytical thinking;
  • Communication and presenting skills; and
  • Research skills.

So whether you’d like to go into accountancy, continue on to graduate study, or put your business and economics knowledge to good use in another profession, you should be equally able to pursue your career ambitions, regardless of the amount of maths you studied during your degree.

The main thing to remember is that employers, and your university, will be more concerned with whether you understand key economic principles, including macro- and microeconomic principles, and are able to employ high levels of economic analysis.

As such, any lack of a maths A-Level should not hold you back from applying for an economics degree. Provided that you got a solid maths grade at GCSE, then you will be able to find a course that suits you.

If you would like to take an economics degree that does focus on maths and statistics, then you could also consider taking a Foundation Year, if your desired university offers one. This may then give you the numerical skills that you would need to continue with a full degree course in economics.

Once you’ve decided which universities you’d like to apply to, the next step is to make sure that you are on track to meet the entry requirements for those courses. So if you need an A in economics to get into your degree course, you want to make sure you’re doing as much as possible to secure that grade when exam season does roll around.

If you are thinking about ways in which you can improve your academic performance, or would like some study tips about how to best prepare for your final exams, then you may want to hire an economics or maths tutor to help you.

Tutors can be an effective learning tool, as they provide:

  • Extra motivation to help you succeed in your studies;
  • Additional mock exam questions to ensure you’re fully prepared for exams; and
  • Assistance and help with any specific questions you have about your A-Level course.

Superprof has a range of tutors, in maths, economics, and other subjects, who are ready to help you perform and get the results that you need for university. So why not find your perfect tutor today?


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