The study of economics is essentially about dealing with scarcity, resource allocation and the methods and processes by which choices are made in the satisfaction of human wants. As a social science, economics uses scientific methodologies that include quantitative and qualitative elements.

The IB Diploma Programme Economics course emphasises the economic theories of microeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting individuals, firms and markets, and the economic theories of macroeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting countries, governments and societies. These economic theories are not to be studies in a vacuum – rather, they are to be applied to real-world issues. Prominent among these issues are fluctuations in economic activity, international trade, economic development and environmental sustainability.

The economic course encourages students to develop international perspectives, fosters a concern for global issues, and raises students’ awareness of their own responsibilities at a local, national and international level. The course also seeks to develop values and attitudes that will enable students to achieve a degree of personal commitment in trying to resolve these issues, appreciating our shared responsibility as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world.

IB Economics - Syllabus outline

Section 1: Microeconomics
1.1 Competitive markets: demand and supply
1.2 Elasticity
1.3 Government intervention
1.4 Market failure
1.5 Theory of the firm and market structures (HL only)

Section 2: Macroeconomics
2.1 The level of overall economic activity
2.2 Aggregate demand and aggregate supply
2.3 Macroeconomic objectives
2.4 Fiscal policy
2.5 Monetary policy
2.6 Supply-side policies

Section 3: International economics
3.1 International trade
3.2 Exchange rates
3.3 The balance of payments
3.4 Economic integration
3.5 Terms of trade (HL only)

Section 4: Development economics
4.1 Economic development
4.2 Measuring development
4.3 The role of domestic factors
4.4 The role of international trade
4.5 The role of foreign direct investment (FDI)
4.6 The roles of foreign aid and multilateral development assistance
4.7 The role of international debt
4.8 The balance between markets and intervention

Distinction between SL and HL

SL and HL students of economics are presented with a common syllabus, with an HL extension in some topics. The syllabus for both SL and HL students requires the development of certain skills and techniques, attributes and knowledge – as described in the assessment objectives of the programme.

While the skills and activity of studying economics are common to both SL and HL students, the HL student is required to acquire a further body of knowledge – including the ability to analyse, synthesise and evaluate that knowledge – and to develop quantitative skills in order to explain and analyse economic relationships. These quantitative skills are specifically assessed at HL in Paper 3.

Internal Assessment-Standard and Higher Level
A portfolio of three commentaries on news media extracts of 750 words each. (20%)

External Examinations-Standard Level
Paper 1: Written examination comprising two extended response questions. (1.5 hours, 40%)
Paper 2: Written examination comprising two data response questions. (1.5 hours, 40%)

External Examinations-Higher Level
Paper 1: Written examination comprising two extended response questions. (1.5 hours, 30%)
Paper 2: Written examination comprising two data response questions. (1.5 hours, 30%)
Paper 3: Written examination comprising two HL extension questions. (1 hour, 20%)