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.
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.
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.
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. In exceptional circumstances, where a student has already successfully completed the MPhil in Economics at Oxford, the department may waive the requirement for Transfer of Status and students may progress directly to DPhil 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 (eight years for part-time).
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.
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).
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- 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.
- 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
If you do not hold, or will not shortly hold, a UK postgraduate degree, you must submit the results of a GRE Test obtained within the last 5 years. However, we recommend applicants from UK universities also submit a GRE score. 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.
English language proficiency
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.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*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.
Declaring 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.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
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.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
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 Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
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 2021 REF, Oxford was ranked first in terms of overall research ‘power’ and funding market share.
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. 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 (SSL), a first-class research library open to all members of the University. The SSL holds over 250,000 printed books, over 1,000 printed journal titles, as well as statistical publications, working papers, dissertations, pamphlets and reports. Online resources include almost 100,000 e-journals and an extensive collection of databases and archives in the social sciences. Graduate teaching and most seminars take place within the Manor Road Building, where there is also a cafeteria and common room for students' use.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. 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 December or 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 any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
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 changes 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.
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.
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.
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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
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.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.
Contacting the department
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is not necessary to include your bibliography in the overall word count.
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.
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 or postgraduate degree, you must submit the results of a GRE Test obtained within the last 5 years. However, we recommend that applicants from UK universities also submit a GRE score. 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.