Whether you're studying economics in senior secondary school or university with a view to making it your career, or you want to keep up to date with economic theory and global trends, there are many ways you can boost your knowledge by learning economics from the comfort of your home.
Your first thought might be to engage an economics tutor to help you improve your skills in the subject, however, there are other ways you can approach your learning and engage in self-study of this popular topic.
Teach Yourself Economics
Learning economics is more popular than some people think and it is a highly contested university degree. It's not only about the maths. An understanding of economics means an understanding of the market economy, the way the world works and how local, federal and world politics shape global economic policy.
Even if you don't want to attain an economics degree, it's perfectly understandable that, as an aware citizen, you would want to learn more about economics. For students and interested people alike, there are a great number of resources and avenues you can explore to supplement your knowledge and learn more about key theories and economic principles.
Popular Books about Economics
The easiest and most traditional way to work your way in to learning economics is to pick up some of the more popular books on the subject — both current and not. Have a browse on your library shelves and select a few that appeal to your interest and your reading preferences.
A few to start you off might be:
- The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton
- Economics in the Age of COVID-19 by Joshua Gans
- Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
From inflation to microeconomics and macroeconomics — the right books will make the world of economics come alive for you, particularly perfect if you're struggling with a concept.
They also make great conversation starters, exercise your analytical thought processes and rationales, and, with relevant examples, will often help you gain a deeper understanding of important economic theories — from fiscal policy to capitalism.
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Review your Textbooks
If you are, or have been, a student of economics — you'll have textbooks. Going through these again in your spare time is great revision if you're in the middle of your degree, and a great refresher if your degree is a number of years old.
Of course, there's also the fact that it is very rare for university lecturers or tutors to assign readings from every chapter of your textbook. So, find those chapters you didn't study and read them. Not only will you gain a broader understanding of economics but, if you're currently studying, it will go a long way towards boosting your grades and class participation — you'll have more to discuss.
Relevant Magazine and Newspaper Subscriptions
The Australian Financial Review
Founded in 1951, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) began as a compact daily newspaper that is specifically focused on Australian business. It covers business and economic affairs throughout Australia and globally.
It is made up of five key components:
- Newspaper — the traditional daily paper, as described above and the AFR Weekend featuring news and analysis of the week's events
- Magazines — four magazines come as inserts in the Friday paper, or can be accessed digitally — Australian Financial Review Magazine (monthly), LUXURY (quarterly), Sophisticated Traveller (quarterly) and BOSS (monthly)
- Website — access to archived articles as well as breaking news
- Apps — access everything above on an App — any time
- Newsletters — for subscribers, a daily newsletter is delivered to your inbox, featuring stories of the day, daily market trends, market wrap up and so on.
International Print Media Worth a Look
- The Economist
This is the longest-standing print media in the UK and still provides a global perspective from an economist's point of view. There are strong international links, and connections between politics and business. It's available both in print and digitally.
- New Economy Magazine
This magazine focuses on green technologies and their connection with the political world and global economies. There is a strong focus on new research and technologies from scientists all over the world, and developments in both the public and private sectors globally.
The Internet is a Wealth of Knowledge
Blogs, social media, websites — there is so much useful content on the internet, you'll never get through it all. It's a cheap, easily accessible way of keeping informed and maintaining an up-to-date understanding of the world around us.
Wikipedia may be a taboo-word in academic circles — but hear us out. Not everything is relevant or correct, however, you can find a plethora of information about economics and its sub-topics like microeconomics and macroeconomics, finance, business, markets ... and the gold actually lies in the references. Plus — it's free.
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Keep Abreast of the News
Of course, we've already mentioned newspapers and magazines above but we'd just like to emphasise the importance of keeping your knowledge and understanding of latest economic developments and market trends current. Tune in daily to world and local news to hear about the state of the economy and global shares and trade.
Traditionally, you would tune in to television broadcasts or radio, but with social media in modern times, you can now access this news even more quickly. The news sites we can download on our devices — ABC, SBS, BBC, Reuters — can all be engaged with via Twitter. Simple.
Most outlets also encourage you to sign up to alerts for breaking news — you hear the latest developments almost as soon as they occur.
And again, remember the apps available for the popular magazines mentioned above. There will be more detail here than on social media.
Particularly pertinent for those of you who are current students, in high school or university — by keeping up to date with economic and trade news, you'll have current real-world references and examples to discuss in your tutorial, or to use in essays and exams. It's an easy way to boost your grades.
Economics Tutoring Online
Education is truly going online and with a growing range of study resources, materials, tutorials and learning strategies available in the online environment, it's no surprise this is where many students or economics buffs head.
It seems that everyone has a YouTube channel these days, even economists. YouTube contains a huge library of educational videos, many produced by qualified educators, with economics content — from the fundamentals of economic theory through to current happenings and market trends in business, banking and policy.
A number of Australian and international universities also offer online economics courses that are not restricted to enrolled students. These courses cover topics ranging from the history of economics to the principles of microeconomics.
There are several study platforms available, for a relatively tiny annual subscription fee when you think about it, where you can peruse a seemingly unlimited list of courses and select the ones you wish to watch. A few of these platforms, that contain economics or a related subject sections.
Once considered the realm of The Arts, SkillShare has now branched out to academic subjects, with a growing number of contributors in the field of economics. Topics covered include:
- Economics for Beginners: Demand, Supply and Price Elasticity
- Slump: 10 Strategies Surviving to Thriving in the COVID Economic Crisis
- Managerial Economics
- Economics Made Simple: Demystifying Tariffs
A streaming platform containing a library of video lessons, run by world leaders in their subject, and accessible by anyone. Each individual class consists of around twenty short video lessons and a workbook. Yearly subscriptions are $280, giving students unlimited access to as many of the classes as they wish. There are a number of classes available on economics, under the categories of Business, and Community & Government.
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and essentially provide students with the opportunity to study with top universities worldwide and are completely online and completely free. There are no entry requirements and, as such, you may find yourself studying with thousands of students from all over the globe. MOOC courses are shorter and do not necessarily lead to formal qualifications, but they contain outstanding content and are well worth a look.
Some MOOC providers that cater for students interested in economics include:
Many of the courses available not only cover relevant and supplementary content and skills development but also look into exam preparation and technique. So, for students who are using a MOOC as extra tutoring, these sorts of courses can be highly beneficial.
Learning Economics with EdX
EdX, which is part of the MOOC system, has a wide range of courses students can take and complete, often at their own pace, from their home. One course, out of many available at a quick glance, is:
Principles of Microeconomics: An Economist Way of Thinking
Explore the fundamentals of microeconomics including economic efficiency, scarcity and opportunity costs. This course will set you up to think like an economist and to identify how economics relates to the everyday choices we make.
The course claims to 'equip you to think and see the world like an economist' and will have you exploring the 'application of economic theory and economic efficiency of competitive markets, as well as consumer and producer surplus and deadweight loss'.
Topics covered include:
- real-world examples of advantage and cost
- economic methods and rules
- supply and demand theory and its practical application
- the role of economic cost benefit analysis.
This particular course is part of the Professional Certificate in Microeconomics offered by The University of Queensland but is totally online, free and self-paced.
Where to Find the Best Economics Tutor
Self-guided and self-paced online learning is certainly convenient and flexible, however, it is not always the best way to learn for some people who require extrinsic motivation in the form of a real-time and interactive lesson.
Engaging an economics tutor, whether online, face-to-face, private or with a small group, is a great way to target your learning and have fun while doing it.
There are a number of online tutoring platforms, such as Superprof, where you can find teachers and students who offer economics tutoring for a range of levels. The tutors on Superprof each have a profile, which needs to be verified, listing their experience, qualifications and specialisations. On the whole, tutors offer tuition because they love to share their knowledge about the subject they are passionate about.
Studying with a Superprof Economics Tutor
There are multiple ways a tutor can assist your learning. A good economics tutor can:
- determine the topics you really need to focus on
- guide your preparation for exams
- extend your knowledge in specific areas, such as macroeconomics or microeconomics
- raise your awareness
- spark your interest and motivation
- increase your confidence to discuss and analyse theories and current issues
- improve your academic performance.
It is not impossible to learn everything you need to know by yourself at home with video tutorials and books, however, for most students, there will come a point where you need just a touch of guidance and explanation to help the information really click. Plus, sometimes the best way to truly understand theories or concepts is to toss around your ideas with another person — there's something in verbal discussion that sometimes pushes the brain into gear and, suddenly, things make sense.
The cost of an economics tutor may be a concern. Certainly, tutors with more experience and higher qualifications will cost more, but a tutor who is currently studying in their 4th year of an economics degree may be just as good, at a third of the price.
Have a look at the profiles of two of Superprof's economics tutors to see what we mean.
More than a decade's experience lecturing economics. Offer online lessons. Speak English, French and Chinese.
'Topics in Macroeconomics:
GDP and its measurement; employment; CPI, inflation; interest rate and the loanable funds market; the aggregate demand and aggregate supply model; short-run versus long run macro equilibrium; money and the banking system; fiscal policy and monetary policy; the exchange rate
Topics in Microeconomics: demand and supply curves; elasticity; consumer surplus and producer surplus; budget line, indifference curve; competitive market, monopoly, monopolistic competition and oligopoly.
I use examples to make economics concepts and theories easier to understand. Past students appreciate the clarity of my lecturing.
I have experience lecturing economics for more than a decade. I am fluent in English, French and Chinese and can lecture in these languages, depending on students' preferences/needs. Explain concepts and theories. Provide exercises for students to practice.'
VCE/HSC Economics lessons by an Economics major at the University of Melbourne.
'I believe being a part of the School Representative Council and the School Ambassador for 2018 at my high school has taught me useful and diverse skills that helps me interact with people.
I also believe that my friendly personality will make it a joyful learning experience for my students. I highly value education and want to make individuals realise its power and the joy that comes with learning and discovering new things. Hence why I want to help those interested in Economics, like myself, to further enhance their skills through friendly sessions that will be based around developing the student's understanding of the core ideas of Economics.'
Economics Degrees by Distance Education
If you're looking for a little more than tutoring, or an online MOOC that gives you lots of background but no qualification, you may wish to consider enrolling in an accredited online course and studying economics via distance education.
While a distance education degree is certainly more expensive in tutorial fees than a short course or other methods of learning, there are savings to be had in terms of travel and other costs involved with face-to-face study. You may also have other reasons why you need to study from home, in which case an online degree course is the right way to go.
Distance education is not for everyone. It takes a considerable amount of self-motivation and perseverance, especially for students who are more people-oriented and like the interaction of a classroom setting. However, if you are determined and goal-driven, anything is achievable.
Open Universities Australia is one such distance education provider that offers a range of degree-level courses in the field of economics. Signing up is easy and there is also a student help-line you can call and have a staff member, usually one of the lecturers in the course you're enquiring about, talk you through the different options.
One course currently available from Open Universities Australia is:
Bachelor of Economics
Unlock careers in business and the broader community. Grow your mindset to solve problems faced by industry, government, and society. This degree teaches you the foundation principles in economic theory plus a specialisation of your choice.
The course outline gives full details pertaining to the entry requirements, the structure of the course, units, career opportunities and subjects in the degree.
The degree structure consists of:
- 8 core subjects
- 4 major subjects
- 12 elective subjects.
The degree is structured into the equivalent of three years full-time load as follows:
- Year 1 — 8 subjects of which 4 are elective. Core subjects include behavioural economics, policy and data analysis
- Year 2 — 8 subjects of which 4 are elective. Core subjects include growth and development, and econometrics
- Year 3 — 8 subjects comprising a choice of 2 majors (society and environment, or industry, policy and business strategy), and 4 electives.
At the end of the degree, students should possess knowledge of the theory and practical application of economics and be able to:
- use data to address economic problems
- communicate economic reasoning, and present knowledge, ideas and evidence
- evaluate economic problems and assess policy issues using economic techniques
- interact and collaborate with peers, reflecting on potential impacts of economic policy across local, national or global economy
- reflect on and discuss ethical propositions.
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Can I Do This Myself?
In summary, there are multiple ways you can start learning economics at home.
Borrow, download or buy economics books that are not textbooks and that deal with economic theories and principles in a more conversational way — an enjoyable read that is easy to understand. Odds are, they will also present ideas and information in a fresh way, very unlike your Year 9 teacher or first year lecturer.
Do a Google search and check out online resources. Go to sites like Wikipedia (remember — the references), YouTube and MOOCS. You'll be surprised how much is there and how inexpensive it is (or even free). There's a whole world of resources on the internet for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge — or totally immerse themselves.
For students who want more structure, and perhaps a qualification at the end of it, try a more formal distance education course, like the ones offered by Open Universities Australia. Finding a course that is self-paced and offers flexible elective options is always a winner.
Engage an economics tutor who can provide targeted support if you're struggling, or extension work if you can't get enough. The best thing about tutors, like those on the Superprof platform, is that they get to know you, your learning style and your needs. They adapt lessons to suit you and can change their focus at exam time. While you might be super-motivated and self-directed, at times you will still need that interaction and a real person who can work with you.
Don't wait, find yourself an economics tutor today.
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