Economy, Society and Public Policy: An quantitative economics course for non-specialists from The CORE Project

The CORE Project, an open-access project to create economics education "for a changing world" based at University College London, is creating Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP),a free, online 12-unit introductory economics course for non-specialists, with a further 12 empirical projects to introduce students to using real-world empirical data to investigate economic problems.

Delivered as an online ebook, the beta version of all 12 units will be available, and ready to teach,  in summer 2018. Units already published are available at the CORE website. Additionally, emperical projects published are also available the CORE website. 

What is in the course?

A walkthrough of ESPP and Doing Economics

Modern economics can empower students and citizens to understand and articulate reasoned views on some of the most pressing policy problems facing our societies: financial instability, environmental degradation, wealth creation and innovation, and inequality. These are all topics of interest to students across the social sciences, but they are rarely encountered in introductory economics courses. ESPP will deliver the best of economics, rigorously, in a way that will interest and stimulate non-economics students.

Who is it for?

The main target audience is students (undergrad or postgrad), who are not studying economics already, but who want to take an economics course. ESPP and Doing Economics can either form a complete course, or be incorporated into existing courses, wherever there is a need for quantitative economic skills.

Learning quantitative skills by doing

Policy-oriented students often find themselves having to choose between a quantitative course of study – economics – that is only minimally social in content, or a socially-oriented course of study that provides little training in quantitative scientific methods. ESPP aims to bridge that gap, while delivering skills they can use in their existing studies.

This is why CORE is also producing Doing Economics. When completed, there will be one project for each unit in ESPP, which students can complete using either Excel or R. Each project gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with real-world data, and produce their own reports.

Simon Gallacher, the director of student programmes at the Nuffield Trust says: “There are definitely students making up their minds to choose courses that have a higher degree of data engagement than they expected when they applied to go to university,” he says, “they can see the utility of having quantitative skills at their fingertips.”

Developed in partnership

The project team is creating its course materials and testing them in collaboration with institutional partners that include:

  • UCL Institute of Education and Q-Step Centre
  • Birkbeck, University of London Department of Politics
  • UCL, Department of Economics
  • University of Bristol, Department of Economics

Additionally, CORE's Empirical Projects Working Group brings together academics from universities across the UK and outside to create, test and improve the data exercises.

As with all CORE materials, the course is be open-access for individuals and institutions anywhere who wish to use it. Any teachers who are interested in contributing, reviewing or teaching using these materials are invited to contact CORE:

Project Details



Professor Wendy Carlin and Professor Antonio Cabrales, Department of Economics, University College London

Professor Samuel Bowles, Santa Fe Institute

Grant amount and duration:


1 February 2017 - 31 March 2020

Project website


CORE project has launched beta versions of the first five units of a new eBook called Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP).