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.

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. 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.

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 2017 graduating cohort include doctoral programmes at Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, EUI, NYU, Northwestern and Stanford University California; employment with the Bank of England, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, ODI Fellow, Morgan Stanley London, Goldman Sachs, Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the UK Government.

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. 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 sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on 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.

All graduate courses offered by the Department of Economics

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

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:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in economics.

Applicants must 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.

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

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 undergraduate degree, you must submit the results of a GRE Test obtained within the last 5 years. Applicants who hold, or will shortly hold, a UK undergraduate degree are encouraged to submit GRE Test results. 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. Applicants with a UK undergraduate degree who also hold a GRE test obtained within the last 5 years can submit it as part of their application form, although this is not a requirement.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Publications are not expected.

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.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

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

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.

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 and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. 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 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

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£18,455
Overseas£22,050

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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees 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.

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 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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.

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 GuideApply

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