Nottingham University Business School will welcome its first students onto its MSc Industrial Economics, Innovation and Policy programme in autumn 2012.
Nottingham University Business School set up this unique course because of a current demand for graduates who can use a knowledge of economics to work on business-related policy making, explains Giuliana Battisti, a professor at Nottingham University Business School and director of the new programme.
"We'd had feedback from the government and external organisations working with the government, such as consultancies, that they were struggling to recruit economists who could advise them on applying economics to industry," she says.
"There was a need for a higher degree which combined a strong foundation in economics with the study of business."
Industrial economics involves applying economic principles to the workings of firms, industries and markets.
Giuliana explains that the course will provide students with "a range of techniques" for systematically analysing these, but with a particular focus on government interventions on markets and on how successful new businesses are grown.
Both entrepreneurship and regulation are very hot topics indeed in the current economic climate.
Says Giuliana: "Market regulation from now on is going to be a lot more targeted than it has been in the past. And there are investors out there with a lot of cash looking for new ideas to invest in to promote corporate growth and job creation, which we all want to see in the economy at the moment."
Giuliana goes on to explain why economists are crucial for policy-making on these issues: "Economists can quantify the potential social impact of market policies at a sector, national and global level, so can help identify the best ones for governments to pursue."
Down to business
Applicants must have or expect to obtain a good undergraduate degree in economics, or in management or business studies with a significant element of economics, to win a place.
Once enrolled on the course, they'll study several core modules including Industrial Economics, the Economics of Innovation, Industrial Policy and Regulation, and Managerial Economics.
These will be supplemented by two relevant modules of their own choice, which could involve looking in detail at topics such as corporate governance or venture capital firms.
Students will have a further opportunity to focus on areas of particular interest to them in the final element of the course - their summer dissertation, which is also an opportunity for them to interact with practitioners in the industrial economics field.
Students can stay at Nottingham University Business School to produce their dissertation, but "where possible," says Giuliana, "student dissertations will be researched and written while on placement at a research centre - for example, a government organisation, a consultancy, or an industry body."
"We will suggest some suitable institutions to students, and many have already said to us that they would be happy to have students working with them on a specific targeted project."
"Such placements will be a golden opportunity for students to not only test the knowledge they've acquired during the taught section of the course, but also to make themselves known in the industrial economics and policy field - and will look great on their CVs!"
Giuliana adds that there may be opportunities for students to go to a research centre overseas.
Where could the course take students? Says Giuliana: "It will train them for jobs in a business-focused government body, such as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills or the Office of Fair Trading."
"It will also prepare them well to work in the private sector - in a think tank or consultancy. And of course students will also have the option of staying in academia."
"The dissertation will provide the opportunity for students to test out working in one of these areas and help them decide what kind of job they'd like to do permanently."
Students on the course will benefit from Nottingham University Business School's strong academic reputation in industrial economics.
The faculty boasts one of the oldest and largest groups of industrial economists in the UK, including emeritus professor Peter Swann, one of the UK's leading experts in the field who received an OBE in 2005 for his services to business and economic policy.
The faculty also has good connections to those putting industrial economic theory into practice.
Says Giuliana: "We have extensive experience of the application of industrial economics to business policy, and have strong links with national and international organisations working in this area."
"What's more, we'll be encouraging our contacts to come here and share their experiences with our students, telling them how their organisations function and make decisions in real life."
For Giuliana's keen that the course gives students not only a solid grasp of the principles of industrial economics, but also assistance in building a career in the field.
"We'll be relating the course as much as we can to students' professional lives after the masters and getting them as close as possible to potential employers."