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Introduction to Economics

New to Economics?

Not sure where to start? The Economics at Otago website provides a wealth of information to help you find your way.

Read on for information about:

Beginning your Major in Economics

BSNS113

BSNS113 Economics Principles and Policy is the normal entry point for most students.
Note 1: The ‘BSNS’ code denotes that this paper is one of the five core BSNS-code papers that all BCom students must include in their degree.
Note 2: BSNS113 does not assume a prior knowledge of Economics, although if you’ve taken Economics at school this will be helpful preparation.

ECON112

ECON112 Principles of Macroeconomics is our other 100-level course and it is a prerequisite for almost all Economics 200-level courses.
Note: BSNS113 or BSNS104 is a prerequisite for ECON112. Therefore, most students wishing to have the option of taking ECON112 in their second semester should take BSNS113 in their first semester.

Advice for choosing your papers

It is preferable for students to complete BSNS113 before taking ECON112, however, there are exceptions. For example, students who have:

Studied Economics at NCEA level 3 (or equivalent) may be permitted to study ECON112 at the same time as BSNS113
Attained mainly excellences and merits in NCEA level 3 Economics, English and Mathematics may apply for direct entry into ECON112, and so skip BSNS113

Including ECON112 in your degree, along with BSNS113, gives you the flexibility to progress to higher-level courses in Economics. If you want to keep this option open, we strongly advise you to take BSNS113 in Semester 1 of your first year, followed by ECON112 in Semester 2; this avoids timing problems in trying to catch up later on.

Please contact the Department of Economics for more details.

Maths for students majoring in Economics

Interested in majoring in Economics – or even just considering it? We encourage you to take a first-year Maths paper, such as FINQ102 or MATH160. Having some basic algebra and calculus skills will make it easier to understand some of the topics you will encounter at 200- and 300-level. However, a few of our 200- and 300-level papers have an actual Maths prerequisite.

For anyone intending to study Economics at postgraduate level (i.e. Honours, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters, etc.), the following are essential prerequisites for the ECON 200-level and 300-level papers required for entry into our honours and postgraduate programmes:

100-level Mathematics (e.g., FINQ102, MATH160, or their equivalent)
Statistics (e.g., BSNS102, STAT110, or their equivalent)

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Degree terminology

Majors and Minors

Your ‘major’ is the subject you take as your main area of study in your degree. In a three-year Bachelor's degree, the ‘major subject requirement’ typically involves 100-level papers worth 36 points, 200-level papers worth 54 points and 300-level papers worth 72 points. All degrees must include at least one major subject.

A ‘minor’ refers to a degree's inclusion of a specific selection of papers in a particular subject area. In a three-year Bachelor’s degree, a ‘minor subject requirement’ typically involves 90 points of papers in the subject, of which 54 points should be above 100-level and, of these, 18 points should be above 200-level. Minors are optional and may relate to subjects that are ‘outside’ of the degree. For example, a BCom could include a minor in English or Mathematics; a BA or BSc could include a minor in Finance.

Read more about studying for a minor in Economics.

Double Majors

A ‘double major’ involves fulfilling the major subject requirements in both Economics and a second subject area (as set out in the Guide to Enrolment) in the same degree. It is a popular way to study two subject areas (that may complement each other or be totally distinct) in depth in significantly less time than would be required for a double degree.

The subjects most commonly combined with Economics in this way are:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

However, literally any Arts, Commerce or Science subject can be taken as a second major alongside Economics. Some examples of double-major programmes can be found below (as PDFs under each degree).

Double Degrees

A ‘double degree’ involves enrolling for two degree programmes at the same time, e.g., BCom/LLB, BA/BCom, BA/BSc. Because you are allowed to cross-credit (i.e., double count) some points, completing two degrees does not take twice as long as completing one degree. For example, you can cross-credit up to 126 points if you are completing two three-year (or 360-point) degrees, so you would need a minimum of 594 points in total, not 720 points.

A double degree must include majors in two subjects (i.e., one for each degree). The advantage a double degree has over the double-major option within a single degree is that it has room for a third major subject and/or multiple minors.

One practical advantage of including Economics in your double degree programme is that it can be counted as Arts, Commerce or Science points, ensuring that the maximum cross-credit allowance can be easily achieved. As a subject of study, Economics combines very well with a wide range of other Arts, Commerce and Science subjects. It is also common for Law students to take a second degree with a major in Economics.

Choose your degree programme

Learn about studying Economics as a major for in the following degrees:

Find out more about studying for a major in Economics.

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