Information for Prospective Students
Why study economics?
Why does the economy have to grow? Are electricity prices too high? What are the effects of a minimum wage? How should an equitable taxation system be elaborated? How do stock market crashes come about? Should certificate trading be introduced in air traffic? When does a takeover make sense? How can data protection be organised in the world of business? These are only a few of the questions that fall within the ambit of economics. The primary focus is on markets because markets constitute the basis of economic relations between states and people. Economists do not ask whether markets are good or bad. They want to know how markets function, how they impact on the economy as a whole, and how the state can intervene when things go wrong. The instruments of state intervention are a subject of intense interest.
The economist’s sphere of activity is much wider than is generally assumed. In everyday life markets are ubiquitous. They range from car markets to marriage markets. When economists consider a national economy as a whole, their approach is described as ‘macroeconomic’. They are mainly concerned with topics such as full employment, economic growth, tax revenue forecasts, and movements of interest and exchange rates. When economists bring their minds to bear on the way companies and households behave in individual markets, their approach is termed ‘microeconomic’. Economists whose primary interest is in microeconomics will try, among other things, to find out why economically reasonable purchases do not always come about. They will also develop instruments which can be used to overcome obstacles such as information asymmetries.
As economists often recommend ways in which economic conduct and economic parameters might be improved, their advice is often sought by politicians, entrepreneurs, and the persons in charge of associations and other organisations. There are many cross-connections between economics and other academic disciplines. Thus, for instance, there is a substantial degree of overlap between economics and subjects such as law, political science, psychology, and certain branches of engineering. Economists hold consultations with lawyers, engineers or psychologists when new laws are drafted, the technical implementation of economic regulations requires discussion, or analyses are carried out in order to find out more about the way people behave on the Stock Exchange or in the workplace.
What is special about the degree courses in economics offered by the University of Münster?
Economics can look back on a long tradition in Münster. Many distinguished economists have studied or taught at the University of Münster: Alfred Müller-Armack, Hans Tietmeyer, Georg Milbradt, Klaus Töpfer and Hans-Werner Sinn, to mention but a few. These men are or were no ivory-tower intellectuals. They have all endeavoured to translate economic theories into practical terms.
The BA course in economics offered by Münster University is a fully fledged programme extending over six semesters. It equips students with wide-ranging skills and knowledge and strikes a balance between theory and practice. From the outset students are confronted with current practical issues relating to business enterprises and economic policy-making. Practitioners deliver lectures in which they talk about their working environment. They also reply to questions asked by students.
Nevertheless, there is no getting out of mathematics and economic theorising, even though priority is always given to practical applications. Theoretical excogitation and mathematical reasoning provide a sound basis for the study of the underlying mechanisms of economic activity. At the same time they ensure that the training received by undergraduates will have lasting value. Those who have successfully completed a course in economics will be able to carry out analyses unaided and apply their knowledge to new facts and situations.
Another special feature of Münster’s economics programme is the wide range of required options. Thus, for instance, students can specialise in energy economics, transport economics, business cooperation or statistics. As the course has to be completed within a narrow time frame, participants are under no obligation to serve an internship or spend a semester abroad. Nonetheless, placements and sojourns at foreign universities are strongly recommended. When students get down to writing their BA theses, they can take up ideas developed during a placement. Work that has been done abroad is taken into account with a minimum of bureaucracy. Many students opt for placements or foreign sojourns in order to discover new problems and gain insights into the practicalities of life beyond the confines of academe. It remains to add that a thorough grounding in the use of quantitative methods is a mandatory part of the economics course.
The Position of Economics within the Economics Faculty
The Faculty of Economics is split up into four parts. There is a Centre for Interdisciplinary Economic Research, and there are departments that are responsible for economics, business administration, and information systems.
Economic research is conducted in three centres: the Centre for Applied Economic Research, the Centre for Quantitative Economics (CQE), and the Centre for Economic Theory (CET).
The Centre for Quantitative Economics (CQE) was founded in 2008. The Centre’s members conduct research on a wide range of theoretical and quantitative problems relating to economics. They explore domains such as ‘international economic relations’, ‘monetary economics’, ‘theoretical and empirical aspects of international financial markets’, and the development of econometric methods which can be applied to financial markets. The CQE’s research bears on issues of international concern, and it is the declared aim of the Centre to have its research findings published in high-ranking academic journals. The professors who work at the CQE bring the latest international research findings into the lecture room, thereby ensuring that their students receive top-quality academic training in every branch of modern economics. The Centre for Economic Theory (CET) was founded in 2013. The primary focus here is on how theories can be translated into practical terms in various domains of public finance and microeconomics. Major fields of interest include government financing, international taxation, the economics of education, health and sports economics.
A complete list of the Economics Department’s chairs and institutes can be found here.
Economists work in a wide range of areas. Their professional choices are determined by their personal proclivities and their areas of specialisation. Many people who have studied economics in Münster have risen to become top executives. They owe their success in no small measure to the practically oriented all-round training they received during the time they spent at the University of Münster. Graduates of economics courses are particularly well qualified for work in the following fields of activity:
Politics: Federal and regional ministries need economists who have received a broad-based training. Economists play an important role in strategic planning, counsel politicians, and predict the effects of laws and programmes. They fulfil similar tasks in economic research institutes or in international organisations such as the OECD, the World Bank or the European Commission. Their advice is invariably based on the evidence at their disposal.
Regulatory Authorities: There is a growing need for economists in regulatory authorities such as the Federal Network Agency. Economists hired by regulatory bodies require a thorough knowledge of the way markets work. It is also essential that they should be able to cooperate with specialists from other disciplines – especially lawyers and technicians.
Associations: Associations have to build bridges between politics and economics. The interests of an association need to be brought into line with precise economic arguments. Theoretical knowledge and mathematical skills are equally important.
Banks and Companies: In order to initiate corporate development, companies need people with an analytical and strategical turn of mind – specialists who know how to analyse markets and develop strategies. Economists are particularly well qualified to make forecasts and work as management accountants. In addition, they often occupy managerial posts. It is therefore hardly surprising that there is an economist on the board of almost every bank or insurance company.
Management Consultancies: As economists have a strategical mindset, they are often hired by management consultancies. By following a many-sided, methodologically challenging course of study, they have grown accustomed to viewing situations in a networked perspective, and they have learnt how to devise efficient solutions to intricate problems.
The Bachelor’s Degree Course in Economics: Course Content and Course Sequence
The course is entirely modular and displays a clear structure. A solid foundation is provided by a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of economics, and ample scope for specialisation is offered by a large number of compulsory elective modules. Students can delve more deeply into subjects of their choice, thereby building up highly individual profiles which will enhance their prospects of finding suitable employment.
The BA course in economics may be broken down into six components:
Microeconomics: The three modules on microeconomics shed light on the economic mechanisms underlying markets. How are prices formed? What is market power? How can markets be influenced by means of strategy? Attention is also focused on the various ways in which companies can be organised.
Macroeconomics: The modules on macroeconomics deal with entire national economies. They conduce to a better understanding of problems associated with the overall economic situation, the job market or the international economic order.
Applied Economic Research: Applied economic research is primarily concerned with the practicalities of economic policy-making. When should the state intervene in markets, and what forms can state intervention assume?
Methods: The lectures on methodology will familiarise students with the economist’s stock-in-trade. Students are expected to have a sound knowledge of mathematics, and they have to learn how to apply basic statistical methods to empirical economic problems.
Required Options: Three required options have to be selected. At least one of them must be a seminar. The required options can be combined in any way you choose. The subjects on offer include energy and transport economics, economic history, business cooperation, econometrics and statistics, regional economics, international economics, and the like.
Business Administration: Economists need to have a sound grasp of the principles of business administration. These principles are dealt with in two compulsory elective modules and in the two compulsory modules on business administration.
Which qualifications do I need to have if I want to study economics in Münster?
First of all, a prospective student of economics needs to have A-levels, the Abitur, the baccalauréat, or a similar passport to university. Courses in economics are subject to admission restrictions in Münster, but no generalisations can be made here because admission criteria vary from semester to semester. Information about the admission criteria currently in force can be obtained from the Student Affairs Office.
You ought to have a keen interest in economic questions, to be willing to think along unconventional lines, and to be driven by a desire to get to the root of things. The course will assume an A-level knowledge of mathematics. Mathematical methods germane to economics are taught at the beginning of the programme.
What do I have to do if I want to study economics in Münster?
Although students can embark on the economics programme either in the summer or in the winter semester, it is advisable to take up one’s studies in the winter semester. Information about application deadlines can be obtained from the Student Affairs Office.
Applications must be submitted via the internet portal of the Student Affairs Office.
Further information about courses can be found here:
Student Advisory Service
Faculty of Economics
Student Affairs Office
Student Affairs Office University of Münster
Student Council Faculty of Economics