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HEA Economics Network. Project: Students’ Magazine on Current Economic Affairs 2009 Willem Spanjers School of Economics Kingston University. HEA Economics Network. Headline Investigate potential for developing a teaching / learning / assessment vehicle which

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hea economics network
HEA Economics Network


Students’ Magazine on Current Economic Affairs


Willem Spanjers

School of Economics

Kingston University

hea economics network1
HEA Economics Network


Investigate potential for

developing a teaching / learning / assessment vehicle


models aspects of the production of a current affairs magazine,


The Economist.

hea economics network2
HEA Economics Network


  • Some of KU’s existing UG and PG Economics programmes are designed :

(i) to be less technically ambitious and

(ii) to give greater attention to the application of concepts and techniques;

  • Their aim is also to develop skills in the writing of economic analysis and in the presentation and communication of its conclusions.
hea economics network3
HEA Economics Network

Broad Purpose

  • devising a student centered production of a small magazine of economic analysis / commentary.
  • enhancing students’ engagement with their course.
  • where possible accommodating aspects of assessment.
  • addressing employers’ opinion that Economics graduates are under-prepared in communication skills.
hea economics network4
HEA Economics Network


The developmental project will address, inter alia:

  • practical production issues (material expense, space needs, staff time required)
  • skills and time required of staff and students
  • feasibility of attaching assessment elements
  • existence of similar projects and potential for sharing good practice
  • potential for collaboration with our Faculty’s Journalism courses.
hea economics network5
HEA Economics Network

Main activity of the project

Internal benchmarking against the requirements of

the project of:

  • Resource availability;
  • Students’ skills;
  • Staff’s skills and availability;
  • Management capacity;
  • Course delivery;
  • Potential for cooperation with Journalism.
hea economics network6
HEA Economics Network

Main issue:

Disappointing enrolment in BA Applied Economics

  • This was the group of students on which the project was to be focussed.
  • Numbers in the MA courses in Economics could not compensate for this.
  • The disappointing student numbers required a re-think of the original approach to the project.
  • It soon emerged, that the skills as taught to the students in our other UG courses fail to provide a sufficient basis for the project.
hea economics network7
HEA Economics Network

An alternative approach:

  • Put more emphasis on improving the writing skills of students in our BSc courses in Economics

- In part, this may run against the purpose of the BSc courses to emphasise technical aspects of theoretical and empirical Economics

hea economics network8
HEA Economics Network

2.Reducing the scope of the magazine to be a newsletter.

- Such newsletter could be based on short summaries of essays, reports and dissertations, to appear 2 or 3 times per year.

- It would depend on students’ willingness to submit the necessary material.

hea economics network9
HEA Economics Network

3.Create incentives for students to submit material.

- Both a magazine and a newsletter crucially depend on students’ willingness to submit the necessary material.

- Creating appropriate incentive requires making such contributions part of the assessment regime of modules.

- For BA and MA students this would be fine, but for BSc and MSc students less so.

hea economics network10
HEA Economics Network

Results of the Benchmarking:

  • Practical production issues, such as material expense, space needs, staff time required for maintaining such an exercise;

- The magazine can be provided in an electronic format using standard software, which minimizes material expense.

- The requirements regarding space needs and staff time are expected to be within reasonable limits, depending on the specifics of the project.

hea economics network11
HEA Economics Network
  • Skills and time required of staff and students;

- Students would need to be offered more opportunity to develop their writing and communication skills to enable a sufficiently large number of students to participate in the project.

- Current strains on management capacity restrict the available time of appropriately qualified staff.

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HEA Economics Network
  • Feasibility of attaching assessment elements to the exercise;

It is possible to attach assessment elements, but this would require significant changes in the assessment strategy of a number of modules.

  • Existence (or not) of similar innovations in other Economics programmes and potential for sharing good practice;

Communication skills are currently obtaining a stronger emphasis, creating opportunities for future sharing of good practice.

hea economics network13
HEA Economics Network
  • Potential for collaborative working with our Faculty’s Journalism courses.

Staff at the Faculty’s Journalism courses are open for cooperation on developing an economics magazine in one form or another.

hea economics network14
HEA Economics Network


  • The envisioned project is desirable and would fit the aims and ambitions of the School of Economics.
  • But given the disappointing recruitment numbers for the BA Applied Economics, the project would require a more substantial input of managerial capacity than the School can currently spare.