IB Economics (HL and SL)

Course description

The study of Economics helps to develop a critical, analytical mind that challenges any preconceived notions regarding how the economy works. Some of the profoundly important questions you will be asked include: does China threaten or improve our standard of living? Will India’s style of growth reduce poverty quickly enough? Is the discovery of oil a good thing? Why is Zimbabwe economically shrinking? Does the World Bank and the WTO represent the global community? If these questions intrigue you, then Economics offered as part of the IB Diploma will provide you with a way of analysing them. You will be introduced to a number of formal, theoretical models which will aid you in your study of the world’s economies. You will be expected to think independently about particular economic issues, be they local, national and international, as well as be encouraged to discuss your views to develop your critical distance: the ability to step back from the discussion and analyse the assumptions it may be resting on is an essential skill promoted through the IB.

Standard Level

Studying Economics at SL will provide you with an excellent overview of the subject – however some of the more technical and mathematical areas of the subject are only covered in the HL course.

Paper 1 (extended response paper) 30%

Paper 2 (data response paper) 40%

Internal assessment (three 800-word commentaries written during the course) 30%

Higher Level

The Higher Level is distinguished from the Standard Level in that it provides the opportunity to examine a number of formal models in some depth and it also requires pupils to use mathematical quantitative techniques to identify, explain and analyse economic relationships.

Paper 1 (extended response paper) 20%

Paper 2 (data response paper) 30%

Paper 3 (HL extension paper) 30%

Internal assessment (three 800 word commentaries written during the course) 20%


No specific prior knowledge is assumed, but an appetite for current affairs is essential as the coursework and examinations are based on the economic phenomena reported every day in the media. The subject also requires numerical aptitude and the ability to consider an argument carefully and clearly, so pupils must have attained at least a 7 grade in both GCSE Mathematics and English.

Potential careers

The study of Economics helps to develop your critical faculties and these skills are highly sought after by universities and employers. In the process, you will become comfortable with analysing data, explaining complex phenomena and evaluating different viewpoints. You will also have some understanding of how the global economy fits together. Potential careers include government advisor on policy, market analyst and business consultant, as well as graduate and post-graduate study.

Contact for further information

Mr D Clarke dxc@wellingtoncollege.org.uk