Economics updates

The new Diploma Programme (DP) economics course was launched in February 2020 and began first teaching in August 2020 with first assessment in May 2022.

The new DP economics course is holistic in nature and reflects more fully the broader principles of an IB education while continuing to be relevant and rigorous for the many years to come. The IB learner is at the heart of the course. A stronger alignment has been made with how the course links to the IB learner profile, the DP core, the Career-related programme (CP), the approaches to teaching and learning, and to the programme standards and practices among other areas.

Key concepts

Nine key concepts have been introduced in the new course (scarcity, choice, efficiency, equity, economic well-being, sustainability, change, interdependence and intervention). These key concepts should transcend the individual topics and bind together the insights of the discipline providing connectivity to students’ learning of economics.

Conceptually focused teaching helps learners to organize new information by categorizing groups of theories, ideas, tools, or facts according to patterns of similarity or difference. It also deepens their understanding of today’s complex and dynamic economic environment, and helps learners make connections with other subjects to enhance interdisciplinary learning. In the new DP economics course, each unit begins with statements of conceptual understandings. These are statements summarizing important ideas and core processes that are central to a unit including the key concepts.

Real world issues

The new DP economics course is now built around six real-world issues with two real-world issues in each of the three units of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and The global economy. Current global issues including Environment, Inequality and Poverty are explored in the new course. Students are most motivated in economics when they see the relevance of the subject to the real world. They can build new connections to events and behaviours happening in the economy.

In addition, some origin of economic ideas in a historical context is evident in the new course. This is now present in the Introductory unit under the subtopic titled Economic thought. Due to the subject’s dynamic nature new developments like behavioural economics, circular economy and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now part of the syllabus.

Inquiry focus

Inquiry is regarded as an important teaching and learning strategy in this new economics curriculum. Focus is placed on allowing students to develop and demonstrate higher order thinking and to ensure they are actively involved in researching economic issues. Teaching and learning the economic skills enriches the students’ understanding of economics and enables them to apply these to the concepts, content and contexts. An inquiry approach assists students in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, an appreciation of different viewpoints, collaboration and reflective discussion.

Holistic assessment

The new assessment model reflects a broader approach to the course by integrating the different aspects of the course rather than segmenting them. In all assessment components students are expected to demonstrate a holistic and critical understanding of how economics helps us understand real-world issues with the help of theories, models, tools, examples and inquiries from the course of study.

The revised paper 1 is an extended response paper that now assesses the whole course, while the revised paper 2 offers students the opportunity to work in a more integrated way with new qualitative and quantitative data based on real-world scenarios or case studies. Both paper 1 and paper 2 are done by SL and HL students. To further develop their quantitative skills and aid them to think like economists, HL students will analyze and evaluate economic relationships in order to provide informed policy advice in the new paper 3.

The new internal assessment portfolio offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and application of three different key concepts by using them as a lens through which to analyze their commentaries, thereby emphasizing conceptual understanding. In addition, this deepens their understanding of economic theory in relation to real-world situations.

To find out more about these curriculum changes, download our Economics—standard level brief,  Economics—higher level brief and read the community blog post.