5. Building the core
In building the core of the curriculum, balance needs to be achieved across a range of dimensions. There needs to be a balance between theory and applied material, and between micro and macro. Decisions also need to be taken about the place of mathematics and statistics in the curriculum, being aware that the subject benchmarks indicate that a variety of approaches can be adopted. For example, it is recognised that some degrees that are not single honours economics programmes may not cover all of the core elements, and that ‘the forms of analysis chosen may differ and may be tailored to best serve the skills that students bring with them into their degree programme’. Choices here may therefore depend upon the characteristics of the student intake – or perhaps the curriculum will dictate the sort of students to be recruited.
Questions of balance also arise where a single honours curriculum may co-exist with a series of joint honours programmes or a major/minor approach. The core units on a programme need to be designed in such a way that the programme outcomes set out in the programme specification can be met by all students who complete the programme successfully. However, students value choice in their curriculum, and if the outcomes can be met in a subset of the units that make up the programme, then this can create flexibility for students to exercise some choice of what to study. This may take the form of choosing amongst a range of optional economics units, or it may be that students can choose other units (e.g. languages) from outside their core discipline. This may be one way of enabling students to enhance their employability, and is discussed in section 9.
The design of the core curriculum may also need to take into account the possibility that some students may wish to spend part of their degree programme studying abroad. Many programmes are designed to enable either a whole year study abroad, or a single semester. This is discussed further in section 5.5.