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The commencement of four-year Bachelor of Science in Economics programme in Autumn 2017 was part of the process of diversification of academic programs at our institute at the undergraduate level. Mindful of the demands of industry, government and NGOs, this programme aims to equip students with analytical and decision-making tools in order to balance economic, scientific, technological and social objectives.
The admission process for students is same as that for B. Tech. students i.e. Joint Entrance Examination. Prof. Pushpa Trivedi, HoD, Department of HSS said that as economics is becoming interdisciplinary, students need to have an understanding of both science and mathematics which can be tested through JEE. For example, understanding of chemistry is useful with economics in measuring cost of pollution. The 2017 batch has 26 students.
The curriculum is pretty much on the same lines as the BS programme in IIT Kanpur. A workshop was organised before launching the program where professors from various IITs, various subject experts from reputed universities were invited and curriculum, modalities, structure of program was discussed.
Students start with the regular first year courses with HS101 (Economics) as Department Introductory Course (DIC) in the spring semester. They also have the option to change their branch at the end of first year, as in other programmes. From the sophomore year onwards, focus shifts to economics with option of HSS electives in Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology disciplines.
In the second year, students will do courses in intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics, banking, mathematical economics and statistics to provide a basic understanding of economics. An introductory course in sociology and environmental studies will provide a broader background. The third year will build on the understanding of concepts taught in second year with courses in econometrics, international economics, development economics, public finance and Indian economy. Instead of imposing any specialization, an economics elective with option to choose from courses in specific fields of economics will help students gauge their interest so that they can choose a project topic to work on in their final year. This list of electives is smaller (8) in comparison to that in IIT Kanpur which offers a total of 28 electives. However, some more courses are likely to be designed and offered in the electives basket.
Courses will encompass aspects of technology, industry, ethics, finance, corporate investment, international trade, health, labour, environment etc. Students will also be encouraged to opt for minor in engineering, entrepreneurship, design or management. A minimum of 261 credits will be required to complete the degree.
Internships and Placements:
During the Summer months after the 4th and 6th semesters, the students will be encouraged and guided to apply for internships in industry or research institutions. Career options for students can be finance, public policy, industry, research or academia. Prof. Trivedi also said, “We are in touch with ministries in the government, financial institutions, think tanks to let students go there and learn about the aspects of policy-making, research etc.” However, the department has not thought about the semester exchange option at present.
Currently, there are nine faculty members belonging to economics discipline in HSS department. Due to this, the students will not have the option of converting to MS. This may change later as a special drive is on to recruit more faculty members in the discipline. Regarding this, Prof. Trivedi said, “Right now this is not a problem but our faculty needs will gradually increase as we go on and it will become steady after a few years. However, since we are HSS department, philosophy, psychology, sociology professors will also take courses so that students have a good background in social sciences too.” She also added that collaborative courses with other departments and centers can be explored.
Minor/Honors in economics?
New core economics courses will be open only for BS(Econ.) students initially and students from other departments won’t be allowed to take them up. So, there will be no economics minor/honors as of now. However, once the courses have run a few times, then the option might be explored.
Comparison with university programmes in economics:
While this programme is very similar to the one offered at IIT Kanpur, it is different from the ones offered in Indian universities. For example, the university programmes are three year long and begin with the economics courses right in the first semester. The courses in universities are less mathematically rigorous because they teach these tools in graduate classes. However, IIT Bombay curriculum will be mathematically rigorous to help students in understanding journal articles and economic models. The coursework will also be heavier at IIT Bombay. At the same time, the option of institute electives to explore courses in engineering, management etc. is not available in universities.
The top US universities also have four year programmes and they begin with economics courses right at the beginning. So, a wider spectrum of courses and electives are offered. Also, students have the option of specialization at the undergraduate level.