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.