Case study 2: University B
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University B operates a curriculum based on a pattern of 8 (15 CATS) units per Part. Figure 3 summarises the structure of the curriculum.
Figure 3: University B: a single honours economics programme
In Part 1, students take units in micro and macro, plus 3 units in QM (Introduction to Statistics, Mathematics for Economists and Introduction to Econometrics). Students entering without A-level Mathematics take an additional unit in Basic Mathematical Economics. The remaining credits come from a choice of optional units. In Part 2, students take 3 core units (each rated at 30 CATS), together with a choice of optional units to make up the remaining credits. The programme allows for students to follow language units as options, and then take a year abroad on an ERASMUS placement in year 3, returning to complete Part 3 as a fourth year. In Part 3, students take 1 compulsory unit (Economic Issues: Theory and Policy) that runs over the whole year. This provides students with the opportunity to study particular topical economic issues in detail, and in more depth than can be achieved in a shorter unit. Remaining credits come from a choice of optional units, of which 60 CATS must be from the economics list.
As with University A, the structure of the degree is transparent, and enables students to achieve the programme outcomes associated with the subject benchmarks in the core units whilst still retaining flexibility of choice in the optional units. This provides the opportunity for students to focus on those areas of economics that especially appeal to them.
University B also runs a number of joint honours programmes, and Figure 4 shows how one of these programmes works.
Figure 4: University B: a joint honours economics programme
This structure is for a joint honours degree in Economics and Politics, with students spending approximately half of their time studying each of the two main disciplines. In Part 1, students take 3 units in economics (micro, macro and QM), and 3 in Politics. There is also a ‘bridging unit’ (State and Economy) that serves to link the two disciplines together. There is also one free optional choice. In Part 2, there is a double unit that covers micro and macro, and another bridging unit (the Economics of Politics). Students then choose options from Economics and from Politics in such a way as to maintain approximate balance between the two disciplines. In Part 3, students take units in International Political Economy and the Political Economy of Globalisation, and then choose the remaining units from options in the two main disciplines.
This structure enables students following the programme to achieve the outcomes required to meet the subject benchmarks for both Economics and for Politics. An advantage of the 8-unit per year pattern over 6 per year is that it is more straightforward to maintain balance between the two disciplines that make up the joint degree. Given University B’s curriculum design, students also have flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional units in each of the disciplines.