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

MPhil in Economics

About the course

The MPhil is designed to provide training in economics at graduate level. It is comparable to the first two years of a PhD programme at the best US universities. The MPhil provides a solid foundation for progressing to the DPhil (PhD) programme at Oxford or elsewhere. If you do not wish to progress to a doctorate, the MPhil provides an excellent foundation for a career as a professional economist. Numerous MPhil graduates have gone on to distinguished careers in economics or related fields. This is the course recommended if you have not undertaken any previous postgraduate work in economics.

In the first year there are three compulsory papers, in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, as well as a non-examinable course in mathematical methods. The three papers are examined at the end of the first year.

In the second year, you will take five courses, each lasting for one term, from the following list of options - please note that not all options will necessarily be offered every year:

  • Advanced Econometrics 1*, Advanced Econometrics 2*
  • Advanced Macroeconomics 1*, Advanced Macroeconomics 2*
  • Advanced Microeconomics 1*, Advanced Microeconomics 2*
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Development Economics 1, Development Economics 2
  • Economic History 1, Economic History 2
  • Financial Economics 1, Financial Economics 2
  • Industrial Organisation 1, Industrial Organisation 2
  • International Trade 1, International Trade 2
  • Labour Economics
  • Public Economics

You will take at least one advanced course (*) and at least one field course (non-*). Courses are assessed by a two hour examination in the summer term of year two.

You are also required to write a thesis in the second year, supervised by a member of the department. The thesis is up to 30,000 words in length and is usually expected to contain some original research. It can be incorporated into a DPhil thesis, if you continue with your studies.

You will receive numerical grades for your thesis and for each paper, determined by your performance in the examinations. Based on these grades, the examiners may award an overall Pass grade or a Pass with Distinction for the course. There is also a prize for the best thesis and a prize for best overall performance in written papers.

Graduate destinations

A number of MPhil in Economics students stay on in Oxford to do the DPhil in Economics. Others go on to do internships (e.g. European Commission, OECD, IMF), work in the public/private sector (Bank of England, NERA, Goldman Sachs) or go onto PhD courses elsewhere.

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 2016-17

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 be predicted or 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. 

If you do not hold, or will not shortly hold, a UK undergraduate degree, you must submit the results of a GRE General Test obtained within the last 5 years. In some cases offers may be made conditional on GRE results. Entrance is very competitive, and most successful applicants have a GRE score of Verbal 160, Quant 164 and Analytical 4.5. 

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).

Other appropriate indicators will include:

References/letters of recommendation 

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

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

Written work produced by the student

You should provide two relevant academic essays or other writing samples, from your most recent qualification, of 2,000 words each or 2,000 word extracts of longer work. 

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. 

The written work should be related to the subject you propose to study.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

The personal statement should be between one and two pages in length, and should be in English. 

This will be assessed for your reasons for applying; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; and the ability to present a reasoned case in English. 

Performance at interview(s)

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


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.

The Department of Economics occupies a modern building, designed by Foster & Partners, which also accommodates the Department of Politics and International Relations, Centre for Criminology, Centre for Socio-legal Studies, Department of Sociology and the Institute of Ageing.

The department is supported by 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. Over 48,000 e-journals and 1,000 online databases can be accessed 24/7.  There are 400 reader places and special study rooms reserved for graduate students.

The Manor Road IT Team are responsible for the provision and support of all IT related infrastructure and systems within the Economics Department.  This includes software and hardware deployment, support of all departmental desktops, laptops and tablets including all associated peripherals (printers, scanners, webcams etc).

Tea and cake is provided for research students and staff on an afternoon every week during term, and at the start of every academic year there is a drinks and food reception in the department for new and existing students. In the department there is a cafeteria and common room where students can meet and discuss their work.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

Oxford hosts one of 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In 2016 approximately 65 ESRC studentships are available across the Social Sciences. See the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website for details. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded studentships are available for the Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships are available through the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.


Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

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

The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises:

  • a statement of purpose/personal statement, one to two pages in length
  • a CV/résumé
  • three academic references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date
  • two relevant academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification of 2,000 words each, or 2,000-word extracts of longer work.

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

The written work should be related to the subject you propose to study.

If you do not hold, or will not shortly hold, a UK undergraduate degree then you must also submit the results of a recent GRE General Test. Applicants from UK universities are recommended to submit a GRE. In some cases offers may be made conditional on GRE results.  

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.