DPhil in Economics | University of Oxford
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Graduates participating in a conference
(Image Credit: Angela de Francisco / Graduate Photography Competition)

DPhil in Economics

About the course

Oxford has a thriving group of research students studying for the DPhil in Economics. The DPhil is the name Oxford gives to its doctoral degree rather than the more familiar name PhD used in most other universities, but the structure of the degree is identical to that of the PhD at leading economics graduate schools worldwide.

There are two main routes leading to a DPhil at Oxford. The first route is the two-year Oxford MPhilin Economics course followed by a further two or three years of research for the DPhil. The MPhil provides training in economics at graduate level, comparable to the first two years of the PhD programme at the best international universities.

If you have not completed the MPhil in Economics at the University of Oxford but hold a master’s degree or equivalent in economics and wish to undertake research for the DPhil then you may apply to be admitted as a Probationer Research Student (PRS). In this case you will usually be required to take a year of coursework, roughly equivalent to the second year of the MPhil course.

You can join one or more of the department's research groups, becoming part of a vibrant educational research community with an active set of doctoral student-led events, seminars and conferences. You will have opportunities to present your work at a variety of seminars and sessions in the department.

Part-time course arrangements

A part-time route through the DPhil programme is currently under development for first admission in October 2018. For further details on part-time doctoral study and for updates on when the part-time programme will open for admission, please contact econgrad.admissions@economics.ox.ac.uk

Graduate destinations

The interests and strengths of the department's doctoral students are many and diverse and this is reflected in the positions they take up after graduation: some take up tenure track positions in academia; others find employment in government, international organisations, or the private sector. The international reputation of Oxford’s doctoral programme also means that its DPhil graduates can be found making a contribution in many different parts of the world.

The department recognises the importance of helping doctoral students find suitable employment and its placement efforts are directed by a senior member of the faculty. The department provides advice and help on all aspects of the job application process, including limited financial assistance to cover expenses.
 
Further details of the destinations of some of the most recent DPhil graduates are available on the Department of Economics website.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in economics or another approved subject (such as mathematics), and demonstrate a strong quantitative preparation.

Applicants must also be predicted or to have achieved an outstanding performance in a rigorous master's course in economics as a minimum, and offers will be made conditional on obtaining a distinction grade (or an equivalent level of performance where a distinction grade is not officially awarded).

Note that a master's qualification that is only partially in economics would not be considered a suitable background. For example a master's course in development studies, public administration, or in finance lacks the required level of economics content, even if there are economics courses as part of the training.

Note also that a master's qualification in a specialised field within economics (e.g. development economics, applied economics, or financial economics) may also be insufficient background. Candidates with these qualifications should provide a written statement as part of their research proposal to demonstrate that the courses on which they have been examined covered all the core material of a rigorous master's course in economics.  

Applicants with an insufficient master's background in economics who wish to proceed to DPhil are encouraged to first apply to the MPhil in Economics

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

All applicants must submit the results of a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test taken within the last five years. Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants will have a GRE score of Verbal 160, Quantitative 164, Analytical 4.5.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Publications

Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Economics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work;
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Economics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Economics.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

With more than 50 academics in permanent posts and 30+ postdoctoral research fellows, the Department of Economics is a large and vibrant international community of researchers. In the 2014 REF, Oxford was ranked first in terms of overall research ‘power’, with more ‘world-leading’ research than any other UK institution.

The department hosts three major research centres: the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE); the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource-Rich Economies (OXCARRE) and INET programme on Economic Modelling (EMOD). These are internationally recognised as hubs for innovative research and reach out to the academic and policy-making communities world-wide through their seminars, workshops and annual conferences.

Within the department, specialised research groups play a key role in bringing together faculty and graduate students working in particular sub-fields, supporting and mentoring doctoral students and postdoctoral research fellows, and promoting research of the highest international standard.

The research groups provide an important interface between the research centres and the department, for example, econometrics and EMOD, development economics and CSAE. Other research groups facilitate collaboration across departments, as in the case of the economic history group and economic historians in the Faculty of History.

Each research group runs a regular seminar series with external presenters, plus a more informal workshop in which members, including DPhil students, present their research in progress.

Students are able to access a range of internship programmes through the University Careers Office as well as the RCUK Policy Internship scheme for ESRC-funded students. In addition, the Bank of England and Goldman Sachs each provide a short summer internship for a doctoral student specialising in macroeconomics or finance and the Department of Economics is accredited by the Asian Development Bank to nominate candidates for their internship programme. In recent cohorts, students have benefited from an internship with organisations including the EBRD, European Central Bank, UK Home Office, as well as those identified above.

The Department of Economics is located in the Manor Road Building in central Oxford, alongside the Department of Politics and International Relations, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Department of Sociology, and the Institute of Ageing. The department contains faculty offices and open-plan workspaces for DPhil students and postdoctoral research fellows with desktop access to economics software, file storage, internet and other facilities.

The Manor Road IT team support all IT-related infrastructure and systems within the department, including desktops, laptops and tablets and all associated peripherals (printers, scanners, webcams etc) and software provision.

The Manor Road Building also houses the Bodleian Social Sciences Library, a first-class research library open to all members of the University. It possesses approximately 350,000 books and more than 2,000 periodicals on open shelves, and over 48,000 e-journals and 1,000 online databases can be accessed 24/7. Graduate teaching and most seminars take place within the Manor Road Building, where there is also a cafeteria and common room for students' use.

Funding

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Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£15,755£3,021£18,776

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How to apply

You should feel free to make contact with any member of academic staff who might act as potential supervisor for your proposed research. 

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal:
Two to three pages

You should submit a detailed outline of your proposed research, written in English, covering areas such as the background to the research, methodology, expected results and the contribution to the field of learning.
The overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying;
  • the coherence of the proposal;
  • the originality of the project;
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study;
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English;
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of 4 years);
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course;
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques;
  • capacity for sustained and intense work;
  • reasoning ability; and
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Written work:
One essay of 2,000 words

An academic essay or other writing sample from your most recent qualification, written in English, is required. An extract of the requisite length from longer work is also permissible. The written work should be related to the subject you propose to study.

The written work should be typed and in English. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

GRE General Test results

All applicants must submit the results of a recent GRE test, ie taken within the last five years.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic references preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

It is recommended that you provide three academic references, however the department will accept one professional reference of the three required overall.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, and motivation.