History and Economics | University of Oxford
History and Economics
Roman coins.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

History and Economics

The History and Economics course integrates these two subjects to form a coherent and intellectually stimulating programme. The combination allows insights that neither subject can realise alone. However, it is possible to specialise primarily in either History or Economics while still preserving the benefits of an integrated approach. The combination of economics, economic history and history (political as well as social) means that you will be equipped to view issues in the real world from a variety of contrasting perspectives. You will learn both the historian’s careful approaches to evidence and argumentation and the economist’s analytical and quantitative methods, providing an excellent preparation for a range of professional, financial and academic careers.

The course is designed to equip you with the basic tools of both history and economics, while introducing you to some of the areas which you can study later in more depth. You will be given a wide choice of subjects. Everyone studies introductory economics, which is designed to give a solid understanding of the foundations of both microeconomics and macroeconomics. The Economics course is identical to that for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and students for both courses are generally taught together.


Some of the most popular careers for History and Economics graduates include working in industry, management consulting, law, teaching and many branches of public service, including the Civil and Diplomatic Services, and the Bank of England. Recent History and Economics graduates include a management consultant, a charity officer and an economist.

Michael is currently the Managing Director for Thomson Reuters’ Treasury business across Asia Pacific. He says: ‘Running a broad region as diverse as Asia Pacific requires me to think laterally across cultures coupled with a concise and engaging focus – traits that one hones quickly from the tutorial approach at Oxford.’

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other History courses, History of Art or PPE.

A typical week

You will be expected to attend about five lectures a week during the first year, participate in regular meetings with tutors to discuss work, research in libraries and write at least one essay a week. In the second and third years you will have the opportunity to write a thesis on economic history, which will enable you to do a piece of independent research.

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 20 students though classes for some of the more popular papers may be up to 40 students.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

1st year


Four courses are taken:

  • Introductory economics
  • European and World history: four options available
  • Quantification in History (available options: Approaches to history; Historiography: Tacitus to Weber; Foreign texts)
  • Optional subject (involving the use of primary sources): 21 options available


First University examinations: Four written papers

2nd and 3rd years


Core courses in Economics and Economic History

Economics Core papers:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Quantitative economics

History Core papers:

  • A period of British history or European/World history
  • Development of the world economy since 1800

Optional papers:

  • two further subjects in History
  • two further subjects in Economics
  • one further subject in History and one in British history/ European and World history
  • one further subject in History and one further subject in Economics

Compulsory thesis

A thesis from original research, usually in Economic history

For the latest information on all course details and options see the History and Economics websites.


Final University examinations:

Seven written papers, and one compulsory undergraduate thesis or six written papers, one portfolio of submitted essays, one compulsory undergraduate thesis

Some essays are submitted in year 2.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

It is highly recommended for candidates to have both History and Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

All candidates must also take the History Aptitude (HAT) and the Thinking Skills Assessment: Section 1 (TSA: S1) as part of their application. 

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support


A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man


Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for History and Economics

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written tests

All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) and the Thinking Skills Assessment: Section 1 (TSA S1) in their own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the test at this time. Separate registration for these tests is required and the final deadline for entries is Monday 15 October 2018. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline.

Changes to HAT for 2019 entry: The HAT will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour. The format of this question will be similar to question 3 of past papers which are available on the HAT page.

For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the TSA  and HAT pages.

Written work

Candidates are required to submit one recent marked coursework essay on a historical topic, or equivalent, by Saturday 10 November 2018. This should have been written in the candidates’ own time as part of their normal school or college work.  Please note that a submitted essay in Economics is no longer required. 

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

If you are shortlisted, your submitted work and UCAS personal statement are likely to form starting points for discussion in your interview.

Some colleges may require you to read a short passage of historical writing which they will ask you to discuss as part of the interview process. The tutors are not so much interested in the level of your knowledge as in your ability to think historically. We do not require any previous formal qualification in economics, but we do expect you to demonstrate a real interest in the subject. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the selection criteria for History and Economics.

Suggested reading

The best way to prepare for a History degree is to read the history books which interest you, either related to your school work or ranging beyond it – and be prepared to discuss your views of those books and their arguments.  To find such material, you might want to follow up on references made in your school or college text books, or your History teacher may also be able to recommend particular works for you to read on topics that you find most interesting.

One good way of broadening your historical horizons is to read one of the popular History magazines: History Today or BBC History, which has weekly podcasts. You may like to look at the books which are being reviewed in the press.

You may also like to explore the websites of public institutions which have excellent links to historical materials, such as the British Museum or BBC Radio 4 archives.

Lastly, delving into some historical sources can be a great way to develop your ideas and understanding. You could try exploring literature, art, music or even films produced by different societies, and consider what these can tell us about the people of that time.

An indispensable introduction to economic analysis, both for those who have not studied it at school and for those who have, is The Economist or the economics pages of newspapers. Paul Krugman’s writings are highly recommended. Begg, Fischer and Dornbusch’s Economics is one of the introductory textbooks widely used at Oxford.


Rory Considine

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.


He is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Political Theory Project at Brown University. He says:

‘My area of research is economic history and in this respect studying History and Economics at Oxford has been very important for my career as my current work builds directly on what I learnt as an undergraduate. The joint degree allowed me to obtain a broad education. I was able to take a diverse range of courses including early medieval history and early modern political thought. At the same time the degree programme was sufficiently structured as to ensure that I took enough economics courses to be able to go on to do graduate work in economics.’

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

Was this page useful?*