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Economics

Studying Economics in Germany

An article by Maria Retter. Cooperation from: Christian Heinrich

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That is what it's about

What are the consequences of low bank interest rates? How can a government ensure that more goods are imported and exported? What are the economic consequences of strict emissions standards? And what happens if the federal government goes deeply into debt because of Corona? Such questions are dealt with by economics (VWL). It is about the major economic interrelationships in individual states and in cross-state economic areas, such as the euro zone.

Compared to other economic fields of study, Economics is much more abstract. While business economists worry in times of economic downturn about whether their company should lay off employees and if so, how many, economists think more fundamentally about why the economy is doing poorly. “A central question in economics is how to make the right decisions in the face of scarce resources," says Ivo Bischoff, professor of economics at the University of Kassel and vice-chairman of the Economics and Social Sciences Faculty Day. This is not only about money, but also about time, raw materials and mobility. “Social cohesion is also a scarce social resource from an economics perspective," says Bischoff.

Economists also deal with social issues, such as migration, because they can also have an economic impact. Psychology also plays a role: How does a person's personality influence their economic actions? For example, how does fear affect purchasing decisions?

This is how the course runs

You start with the basics. The main pillars of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics looks at how individuals make decisions. Macroeconomic processes such as unemployment and growth are areas of macroeconomics. Other important topics are economic policy, statistics, mathematics and econometrics, the study of the application of statistics to economic issues. In the higher semesters, the students deepen their knowledge, for example of finance or industrial economics. Then, for example, it's about state revenue and expenditure, monopoly control or social policy.

Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How do individual firms and households make decisions?
  • How can this be represented mathematically?
  • How does growth occur and what are its limits?
  • How can unemployment be explained using a mathematical model?
  • Why is Covid-19 hitting the economy hard?
  • Can a market economy be climate neutral or does it need systemic change?
  • Why is competition important?
  • How are money and goods markets related?

The subject suits you,...

... "you have an interest in the big picture of economics and society," Bischoff says. Whether it's trade conflict, Brexit, financial bubble, debt crisis, bank bailout or unemployment: Students should read the business news out of genuine interest.

First-year students are introduced to a mathematical-abstract model world at an early stage, which takes up a lot of space in their studies. Equations and curve discussions are constant companions, and while interest in economic policy issues is important, the basics often have little to do with them at first. It takes time to actually apply the material to current issues. Those who have no problem with mathematics and like to think systematically and abstractly have an advantage. It is best to take a look at a textbook on microeconomics or macroeconomics to get an initial idea.

Is there a numerus clausus?

There are admission restrictions (numerus clausus) at about half of the universities that offer the subject. Often it is in the higher grades range.