The structure and content of undergraduate economics curricula offered by South African universities
Steenkamp, Ermie Annelies
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Often academic departments have little knowledge about the course content that is presented by similar departments at other universities. This study aims to investigate the economics curricula offered by South African universities in order to contribute to the quality and content of the economics courses. International best practices with regard to the structure and content of, as well as the logistics behind an economics curriculum are identified, and the economics curricula offered by South African universities are compared to these international best practices. This study is attempted through gathering of available open source information as well as conducting a survey study to determine the status quo situation with regard to various issues relating to the economics curricula offered at South African universities. In terms of the structure of an economics curriculum, a benchmark tree structure is drawn from international best practices. To compare the structure of the economics curricula offered by the South African universities included in this study to international best practices, a tree structure of each university's curriculum is drafted in the same format as the benchmark tree structure. These tree structures are used to determine how each university's curriculum complies to international best practices. The textbooks that are used in a course are thought to be an indication of the content of that course. Therefore, the textbooks that are used by the different universities in each course are indicated in this study. With regard to the logistical aspects of an economics curriculum, e.g. student/lecturer ratios, the actual situation at most universities differs substantially from international best practices. International best practices suggest class sizes of no more than 25 students. Student-lecturer ratios in economics courses offered by South African universities are far remote from this.