Economics: A Students Guide, 4th Edition

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Economics: A Students Guide, 4th edition, J.Beardshaw, D.Brewster, P.Cormack, A. Ross, Longman, 1998, paperback, 711 pages, L118.99, Phone 01279 623348. ISBN 0 582 303 486

In what is a tour de force of economic theory - suitable for both (able) 'A' Level students and fresh-faced undergraduates alike, the authors have successfully updated and enhanced the work whilst retaining the authoritative character which characterised its previous editions.

Structurally orthodox - moving from `Economics and the economy' through micro, macro and international economics this text nevertheless offers the reader a refreshingly serious treatment of `Market Failure' (section IV) in all its real-life manifestations.

The section on Theory of the Firm relates to realistic market conditions and is not simply the traditional elements of value theory, disguised as an analysis of the firm. The authors successfully tackle `Green Economics' whilst retaining sketches of the mainstream practitioners: Marshall, Galbraith, and an excellent treatment of Keynes are some examples.

Chapter Twelve deals with agriculture in case-study format. This is a pleasant change from the normal emphasis on the secondary and tertiary sectors. What is particularly attractive is the manner in which the authors consider a wide variety of 'goods' and 'bads' accruing to the various stakeholders as a result of different policy mixes. For example, maintaining rural communities as well as 'friendliness' to the environment are considered, as are recent decisions to target farmers `in greatest need', linking nicely to European expansion and the common good.

As a teaching aid, the fourth edition benefits from the inclusion of case study and data response questions. These tasks are well thought through and suitable both for direct student use and as a springboard for developing classwork, worksheets and so on. The materials lend themselves to Key Skills work both in terms of application of number and Information & Communications Technology. …