We asked three UCL students who, in September 2014, were part of the first cohort to use CORE (one studies Economics, one takes Philosophy and Economics and one studies European Social and Political Studies) what lasting effects has CORE had on their economics education, and what would they change?
Mateusz – BSc Economics, 2nd year
CORE: What’s your favourite bit of your degree?
Mateusz: The degree is based on current research which I’m really enjoying – for example, in World Economy, we were able to read papers that help us connect the theory with practical use.
CORE: Did the CORE syllabus help you with that?
Mateusz: I think CORE is about explaining as much as possible about what has been happening in macroeconomics in the last 50 years with as simple models as possible. The tools aren’t that complicated but they have a lot of explanatory power and that’s great. I found the areas of research I am most interested in because of CORE Economics, for example, experimental economics. The unit on labour markets and best response functions inspired me, and I wondered how I could apply experimental methods – so we spoke to Professor Cabrales [UCL first year lecturer] and then created our own experiment.
CORE: What would you change about CORE?
Mateusz: I would reduce the number of case studies – maybe it would be better to have one case study per unit instead of changing the story several times. It’s important to find out in each unit what the key concept is, and right now it can be a little confusing.
Daniel – BA Philosophy and Economics, 2nd year
CORE: How did you find CORE last year?
Daniel: I really enjoyed the CORE course, because I expected something a lot more mathematical and I think this is much more suitable. It was good to look at different perspectives of the narrative, such as the environment, although I would have hoped that themes like the environment or fairness would have had greater weight within the syllabus, and perhaps some more pluralism.
CORE: What did you think of the ebook and the curriculum?
Daniel: I like the the stories and the applications to support the key chapter ideas – that’s the point of the whole curriculum. But it would be good to have a little more maths within the text, to clarify. It would be good to have a proper summary at the end to recap what the key ideas are.
CORE: How did CORE prepare you for second year?
Daniel: I think in general, quite well. But some of the fairly simple models we did in the macro section weren’t that helpful.
Karl – European Social and Political Studies, 2nd year
CORE: How did you find CORE last year?
Karl: I came to university with a few ideas about economics, and people had told me how the study of economics doesn’t relate to the real world, and you learn lots of mathematics. In contrast, in CORE I learnt lots of things about the real world and about lots of themes that really interested me – for example, the financial crisis.
CORE: Has your perception of UCL changed because of CORE?
Karl: I’d really recommend UCL based on the fact that CORE is here – we have professors really interested in teaching new material and developing new teaching methods. All of those things combined with the material make it highly recommended. It’s important to tell prospective students why CORE is, well, core.
CORE: If you could change something about CORE, what would you change?
I found the Multiple Choice Questions weren’t always clear. In the second year we approach a problem by analysing what it means means in words, and then we look at the maths – if CORE integrated the maths into the chapters, it would have helped for second year.
Have you studied CORE as part of your institution, or as an independent learner? Would you like to share your thoughts on what it was like to use the curriculum – perhaps with us directly or with our community by writing a blog for us? Feel free to get in touch at contact[at]core-econ.org.