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

MPhil in Economics

About the course

The MPhil in Economics is designed to provide rigorous training in economic theory, its techniques and applications, and in quantitative research methods. 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 the advanced knowledge and skills required for a career as a professional economist in public service or the private sector. 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 graduate work in economics.

In the first year of the programme, there is a non-examinable preparatory course in mathematical methods, followed by three compulsory courses in the core areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics taught in parallel throughout the academic year. The three papers are examined at the end of the first year and progression to the second year is conditional on achieving the required grade in all three courses.

In the second year, you will take five option courses, each course taught in a single term. The option courses build on core training and prepare you to undertake research. The department offers a range of advanced options courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics covering recent developments in theory and analytical techniques. Other option courses are designed to develop knowledge and understanding of theory, techniques and debates within specialist fields of economics. These include behavioural economics, development economics, economic history, financial economics, international trade, labour economics and public economics. You will take at least one advanced course and at least one field course.

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 option course. Based on these grades and those for the first year core courses, the examiners may award an overall pass grade or a pass with distinction for the course. There is a prize for the best thesis and a prize for best overall performance in written papers.

Graduate destinations

Each year between 20 and 25 MPhil students proceed to the DPhil in Economics at Oxford. Others go on to doctoral programmes elsewhere or embark on careers as professional economists in the private or public sector.

Examples from the 2015 graduating cohort include doctoral programmes at EUI, MIT, Northwestern, NYU and the University of California, Berkeley; employment with the Bank of England, European Central Bank, Bain and Company, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and McKinsey Consulting.

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 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 and demonstrate a strong quantitative preparation. Candidates with a first degree in another related discipline should demonstrate how their academic background prepares them for graduate study in economics.

If you do not hold, or will not shortly hold, a UK undergraduate degree, you must submit the results of a GRE Test obtained within the last 5 years. Entrance is very competitive, and most successful applicants have a GRE score of at least 160 for verbal, 164 for quantitative and 4.5 for analytical.

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:

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;
  • Where appropriate, a co-supervisor may be found outside the Department of Economics.

You will be assigned a member of the economics department to act as your academic supervisor to provide advice and support for your academic studies in the first year of the MPhil. In the second year, your MPhil thesis supervisor will act as your academic advisor.

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 Economics department 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: 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 our 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

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (further details will be announced in October 2016), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£12,300£3,021£15,321
Overseas£15,755£3,021£18,776

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 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 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.

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.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
One to two pages, up to 800 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

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.

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

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. 

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.