DPhil in Economics | University of Oxford
Students talking at a seminar
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, which is the equivalent to a PhD at most other institutions, is similar in structure to a PhD at leading economics graduate schools worldwide.

The majority of students on the DPhil at Oxford have first completed the two-year Oxford MPhil in Economics. You can also apply for the DPhil if you hold a master’s degree or equivalent in economics.

All students starting the DPhil are admitted with Probationer Research Student status (PRS) in the first instance. You will take additional courses from the MPhil menu to deepen and broaden your economic training, while starting to work on your first research project. The PRS status allows for a smooth transition from learning about economic research to producing new economic insights yourself. If you haven’t completed the MPhil in Economics at Oxford, you will usually be required to take a year of coursework taking papers from either the first and/or second year of the MPhil course. PRS students coming from the MPhil will usually take fewer courses.

You will join one or more of the department's research groups, becoming part of a vibrant educational research community with a large number 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.

Further information about part-time study

The department is able to offer the DPhil in Economics as a part-time mode. Although there is no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students must attend the University on a regular basis (particularly in term-time: October and November, mid-January to mid-March, and late April to mid-June) for supervision, study, research seminars and skills training.

The department understands that part-time research students will have non-standard attendance and work patterns. To ensure a comprehensive integration into the faculty's and University's research culture and with their full-time peer groups a pattern of attendance at MPhil courses, training events and research seminars would form part of the general part-time study agreement.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.

DPhil students will work closely with their supervisors and will be expected to meet face-to-face on at least two occasions per term with additional contact through Skype meetings and email exchanges.

Assessment

Full-time students admitted to Probationer Research Student status are first required to transfer to DPhil status. The Transfer of Status requires the completion of the Qualifying Examinations, necessary coursework, and an interview with two assessors appointed by the department, at which the candidate presents an outline of their proposed thesis and a piece of written work relevant to the thesis. The transfer is normally expected to be completed by the end of the fourth term, and no later than six terms from admission to Probationer Research Student status. Upon a successful transfer to DPhil status, students are required to confirm their DPhil status no later than nine terms after admission to Probationer Research Student status.

Candidates for Confirmation of Status are required to present a research paper at a workshop or seminar, present a detailed outline of the complete thesis and some complete draft chapters, and will be interviewed by an assessor.

Part-time students admitted to Probationer Research Student status are normally expected to transfer to DPhil status during the first two to three years of study. Upon a successful transfer to DPhil status, students are required to confirm their DPhil status no later than eighteen terms after admission as a Probationer Research Student. The award of this degree is based on a thesis of not more than 100,000 words in length. It should constitute a significant and substantial piece of research, of a kind which might reasonably be expected of a diligent and competent student in three years of full-time study. The maximum time allowed for completion of the DPhil is four years.

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: most take up tenure track or postdoc 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.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Courses suggested by the department

If you are interested in studying both the MPhil and the DPhil in Economics at Oxford, you may wish to consider the integrated MPhil+DPhil in Economics which enables students to first study for the two-year MPhil in Economics and then automatically switch to the DPhil in Economics, for an integrated five-year programme.  The limited number of places on this course are targeted at those with both substantial economics training and exceptional results in their prior studies. Some students applying to this joint course will instead be offered a place on the two-year MPhil. Those on the MPhil who want to continue onto the DPhil in Economics can apply to switch to the MPhil+DPhil programme during the second year of the MPhil; or can apply to the DPhil after the end of the MPhil (for entry a year later). 

 

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Economics

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • an outstanding performance in a rigorous master's course in economics; and
  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in economics or another approved subject (such as mathematics).

Applicants must demonstrate a strong quantitative preparation. 

Offers will be made conditional on obtaining a distinction grade (or an equivalent level of performance where a distinction grade is not officially awarded) at master's level. 

Please note:

  • 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;
  • a master's qualification in a specialised field within economics (eg 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 joint MPhil+DPhil in Economics.

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

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

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 qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • All candidates are expected to have working knowledge in one programming language (of the candidate’s choice) at the start of the DPhil. The department will provide advice to accepted candidates on how to acquire such knowledge.
  • Part-time applicants will also be expected to show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and, if applicable, an employer's commitment to make time available to study, to complete coursework, and attend course and University events and modules. Where appropriate, evidence should also be provided of permission to use employers’ data in the proposed research project.
  • Publications are not expected.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0
TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490)110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

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

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

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found on our Tier 4 (General) Student visa page. For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

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. The department contains faculty offices and open-plan workspaces for DPhil students and postdoctoral research, with access to Wi-Fi and print services. A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy is in place within the Economics department, enabling you to access data shares, printing, software and for some, a full windows desktop via the department's Virtual Desktop environment. A full list and description of the services provided can be found by searching for BYOD on the Manor Road IT team website.  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

The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£8,570
Overseas (including EU)£22,410

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£4,287
Overseas (including EU)£11,203

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research 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.

Part-time study

Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.

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:
A maximum of 1,500 words

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 word count should include any bibliography.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

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 a maximum 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.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

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 and/or professional

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.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application Guide Apply - Full time Apply - Part time

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