An overview of changes to the syllabus

Summary of changes to the new economics syllabus

Curriculum & assessment

  • the central themes of economics are no longer included in the syllabus
  • the course will be taught through 9 key concepts: scarcity, choice, efficiency, equity, economic well-being, sustainability, change, interdependence and intervention.
  • the syllabus is to be explored through real world examples, with a credit given to students illustrating their work through real world scenarios 
  • a small reduction in the course content to make way for greater focus on the key economic concepts
  • introduction to economics is now back on the syllabus and is a stand alone section (unit 1)
  • international trade and development economics (previously units 3 and 4) have been combined into one unit: The global economy
  • quantitative elements are now included in paper two, meaning both SL and HL will be required to calculate quantitative calculations. 

Unit one: Introduction to economics

Unit 1

Foundation of economics did not previously exist in the old curriculum but some of the units in this section were previously included in other units.  New units into this unit include a history of economics.

Unit two: Microeconomics

  • behavioural economics has been added to the course through the notion of consumer choice, with the assumption of individual rationality questioned
  • a small reduction in the theory of the firm content
  • income inequality recognised as an example of market failure

Added to the syllabus

Behaviourism includes business objectives

Nudge theory

Market failure includes collective governance e.g. the effectiveness of agreements such as Kyoto agreement

Removed from the syllabus (in red)

Price discrimination

SR production and law of diminishing returns moved from 2.11 (old 1.5) to demand and supply units

MP, TP, AP are no longer explicitly included

Shut down point


Diminishing returns, increasing returns and constant returns to scale

Implicit / economic costs

Productive efficiency

Non collusive oligopolies

Kinked demand curve

Linear equations


Unit three: Macroeconomics

  • greater recognition that in the last 7 years economists have increasingly used alternative ways methods to compare living standards than simple GDP / GNI data 
  • a recognition that many fully developed nations (not just LEDCs) are now facing unsustainable levels of government debt and that this is likely to barrier to world growth
  • greater emphasis on the specific monetary policy instruments used by central   banks e.g. quantitative easing
  • a greater focus on the negative costs resulting from income inequality included, meaning more integration between unit 3 and 4: The global economy
  • measures of and policies to address poverty added as HL content.
  • alternative measures of living standards
  • corporate index measurements
  • recognition that government spending is influenced by political as well as economic priorities
  • monetary policy also now includes QE and external balance
  • recognition that high debt to GDP ratios impact on wealthy nations as well as LEDCs

Unit four: The global economy

The 8 units included under the previous syllabus reduced to just 4 under the new one.  International trade and development now included as one unit and some of the development units to be taught in unit 3, macroeconomics.

New units

  • Fixed v variable costs is now HL only
  • Relationship between CA balance and exchange rates has been added
  • Relationship between poverty and sustainability in HL
  • More details on persistent CA deficits e.g. adverse credit ratings
  • Recognition that some nations e.g. USA, UK have persistent current account deficits which will not necessary disappear due to depreciation
  • International poverty rates
  • Causes of poverty and wealth taxes
  • New indicators included e.g. energy index, happy planet index, inequality adjusted indexes

Units removed

  • Terms of trade
  • Trade diversion still included but the diagram has gone

Changes to the unit

MDGs have moved to SDGs

Internal assessment    30% SL /20% HL

  • an additional criterion added to address the use of a key concept as a focal point for each commentary
  • word count extended: 800 words each commentary.

External assessment

Under the previous syllabus micro and macro economics were assessed in paper one with global economics units assessed in paper two.  Under the new syllabus each paper now includes questions taken from the entire syllabus. 

Paper one: extended response - 30% SL / 20% HL

  • only 1 question answered from choice of 3
  • time extended: 1 hr 15 minutes
  • use of real-world examples explicitly required in section (b) at all achievement levels, not just the highest grade band.

Paper two: data response - 40% SL / 30%HL

  • only 1 question answered from choice of 2, with the time extended to 1 hr 45 minutes
  • the case studies will be significantly longer and contain a greater range of data to be used in responses
  • greater number of questions (a-g), with questions from all areas of the syllabus included.  Students can expect, therefore, to include a range of syllabus areas (micro, macro and global economics) content in their response
  • includes some quantitative elements, for example calculating elasticity or change in a nation's GDP.

Paper three: policy response  HL ONLY 30% HL

  • students answer 2 compulsory questions on 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • questions containing quantitative and qualitative elements, as before, in (part a)
  • part (b) requires students to develop and justify a suitable policy response to an issue identified in the stimulus material.
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