Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents ECONOMICS 107
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
Economics can be described as the science of decision-making.
It is concerned with the way society distributes and uses
resources such as land, labour, raw materials, and goods and
services. It is one of the very few fields of study that is both an
academic discipline connected with a huge body of knowledge
and an occupation. Professional economists can study economic
and statistical data related to all spheres of life and society, and
often work in an advisory capacity, reporting and forecasting.
They may even plan and make policy based on their findings.
While the federal Treasury, Reserve Bank of Australia and
Productivity Commission may offer the holy grail of graduate
positions, you should also consider alternate organisations that
employ economists, such as unions, publicly listed corporations,
finance and insurance companies, industry associations and
You might opt for a degree or major in economics because you
want to be an economist, but even if you don’t, you might just find it
can offer a fascinating and broad education. Whether or not you’re
after a professional career in the field, you can still expect to need
a good grasp of mathematics and English, as well as aptitude for
investigation and analysis. For more information about careers in
this field, visit the Economic Society of Australia website
Other fields of study that are likely to appeal to someone
interested in economics include business and management, and
accounting. You could even explore the humanities and social
sciences. If you enjoy working with numbers, you might also
consider mathematics and perhaps areas like engineering and
technology or computing and information technology.
Courses and specialisations
There is a fairly wide range of courses on offer in the field,
covering specialisations such as business economics, transport
economics and econometrics. The range of specialisations
reflects the different styles and approaches that economists bring
to their work. Some are very mathematical and focus on statistical
and analytical modelling that can be applied to economic
problems. Others focus on the practical details of the problems
and specialise in fields related to specific regions (such as Asian
economics) or industries (such as agricultural economics). Then
there are those that get you thinking in terms of the ‘big picture’,
such as economic history. There are, however, ways to study
economics outside of a Bachelor of Economics. You can
specialise in economics within other degrees, typically business,
commerce and finance.
Traditionally, the straight Bachelor of Economics covers a core
curriculum that features a mixture of the approaches listed above.
Microeconomics and macroeconomics, history, theory and an
introduction to the analytical and mathematical tools of the trade
are standard first-year fare. After that, students can specialise in
an area of interest. On the other hand, if you complete an
economics specialisation as part of a commerce or finance
degree, the general understanding is that you will have less of an
economics focus and will focus more closely on these disciplines.
You might also find economics streams that reflect this focus on
business or finance.
Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to these course
descriptions. There are some straight economics degrees with a
built-in focus on a certain area (business economics, for
example), as well as economics majors in other degrees that
cover the full core curriculum.
Where to study
Look at course outlines very carefully to ensure the program
provides what you want. You should also remember that this is
not a profession with specific entry requirements, so there is no
need to choose a course at the theoretical or mathematical end of
the spectrum because you think it will improve your job prospects.
If you are worried about losing out on a broad education, consider
doing a more general first degree followed by postgraduate study
in economics or opt for a double degree. Economics can be
paired with just about anything — from arts, law and media
studies to engineering, science and information technology.
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the ‘How
tough is it to get in?’ tables in Section 4.
FOR FURTHER HELP...
To compare the pros and cons of economics with other fields
of study, see the table on page 68 and institution profiles in
For more on jobs and careers in this field, see The Good
Careers Guide website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au.
For ratings of postgraduate economics courses, see
The Good Universities Guide website at
To compare economics courses, please see the Business and
Trade and development
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