What courses? Economics; applied economics; business economics; development economics; global economic; finance economics; European economics, management economics. You can pretty much put any word in front of ‘economics’ and find a degree in that area, for example: food economics, agriculture economics, construction economics and rural economics.

What do you come out with? BA or BSc. A handful of institutions offer it as a BScEcon.

Why do it? Because it's an important part of life, and it will propel you into a high-paying job and give you long-term financial prosperity. If you enjoy the subject, that's a bonus. You’ve got to be confident with maths and words; a real all-rounder. Many people are being attracted by the fact that economics is hot news at the moment. Maybe you watched the credit crunch unravel and thought: “I can do better than that!”

What's it all about? Believe it or not, it’s not just about money. Economics can broadly be described as the science that analyses the production, distribution and consumption of all kinds of goods and services, money included. It can therefore be applied to almost all areas of society, which explains why there are so many specialist economics degrees, as well as broader ones examining the discipline as a whole. The first year of most courses usually splits the subject into micro and macroeconomics. Microeconomics concerns markets, such as housing or mortgages, and macroeconomics looks at the whole economy, including issues such as unemployment or inflation. Maths and statistics for economics also form a basis for introductory modules. Later, students tend to go on to more in-depth study of particular areas such as economic theory, finance, global forecasting, current issues, econometrics and law. Over three years, you’ll develop problem-solving skills, including mathematical and statistical abilities, and applying these to real-life situations.

Study options: Three years at most places, four years in Scotland; add a year for a year in industry or a year abroad. At LSE all of the economics courses are 100 per cent exams, apart from the final year project on the econometrics and mathematical economics course.

What will I need to do it? Maths is the main prerequisite, and you’ll need an A* to get into the top institutions. Further maths is also desirable, although in LSE’s case, this is treated as an extra, and won’t be accepted as part of its A*AA requirements. Most places don’t require an A-level in economics, but it may help your application.

What are my job prospects? Many graduates flock to banking and financial services, analytical and trading fields, or advising on mergers and acquisitions. Many will go into the high-flying, high-paying banking and consultancy jobs, but others start up their own business. However, economics students aren’t the shoo-in for top graduate positions that you might assume, as only 36 per cent of graduates walk straight into graduate-level positions, according to The Times’ Good University Guide 2012. That said, for those that do get jobs, graduate salaries are higher than most, averaging £25,637.

Where's best to do it? Cambridge comes first on this year’s Complete University Guide, followed quite closely by Oxford and LSE. Students at Surrey and Salford were joint top for student satisfaction, and Robert Gordon, Kent and East Anglia also fared well.

Related degrees: Accounting and finance; mathematics; business and management; marketing; politics.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas