MPhil in Economics

The Department of Economics occupies a modern building, designed by Foster & Partners, which also accommodates Politics and International Relations, Centre for Criminology, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Department of Sociology, and the Institute of Ageing. The Department is supported by 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. Over 48,000 e-journals and 1,000 online databases can be accessed 24/7. There are 400 reader places and special study rooms reserved for graduate students

Economics at Oxford

Oxford University has one of the strongest, largest, and most varied groups of economists in the world. Its research output is consistently highly rated in international comparisons.  The Oxford Economics Department has about 60 faculty, an additional 30 research staff, and 300 students enrolled on graduate courses, making it one of the leading centres for graduate studies in economics in the world.  Amongst the current faculty, 14 are Fellows of the British Academy, 4 are Foreign Honorary Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 13 are Fellows of the Econometric Society and 7 are Fellows of the European Economics Association.  In a recent UK Research Assessment the department had more members placed in the top category for research than did any other economics department in the United Kingdom. Current strength builds on a tradition of excellence with past faculty including Francis Edgeworth, Roy Harrod, John Hicks, James Mirrlees, Joe Stiglitz and Amartya Sen.

The research interests of Oxford economics cover virtually every aspect of modern economic analysis and  its applications.  Active research groups include:  Econometrics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Industrial Economics, Labour Economics,  International Trade, Development Economics, Economic History, Financial Economics, Resource Economics.

Each group holds regular seminars and/or workshops at which research by faculty and graduate students are presented and discussed; many distinguished researchers from outside Oxford also visit us to present their work at seminars.  In addition the Department hosts two important annual lecture series: the Hicks Lecture and the Clarendon Lecture series; recent speakers include Daron Acemoglu, Ernst Fehr, Olivier Blanchard, Elhanan Helpman, Caroline Hoxby and Angus Deaton.   

Economists at Oxford help to edit some of the world’s leading academic journals in Economics.  Members of the Department have recently served or are currently serving on the editorial boards of the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Review of Economic Studies, and the Economic Journal, amongst others.  The Department itself houses four economics journals: Journal of African Economics, Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, and Journal of Economic History. A recent development is the launch of the journal Oxonomics.  Established and edited by research students in the Department, the journal aims to publish articles that engage critically and originally with economic issues in an accessible way.

The Department has close links with influential outside bodies. Members of the Department currently serve or have served as Director of Policy Research in the World Bank, Director General of Fair Trading, members of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England and members of the Competition Commission.  Faculty have served as consultants to institutions as diverse as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ILO, European Commission, Select Committees of the United Kingdom Parliament, and various UK government departments.  The external contacts help to inform and stimulate our work at the frontier of economic research.

The MPhil is the course recommended to most students coming to Oxford who have not already completed a good postgraduate taught programme in economics. It is a two year programme in which the first year is focused on the core areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics. The second year offers choice of field subjects and further study of core subjects, and requires completion of a thesis.

The two year format provides training in graduate level Economics comparable to the first two years of the PhD programme in the best US universities. For those planning to progress to a doctorate the course provides high level analytical training, and the MPhil thesis can be used as part of the doctoral thesis. For those who do not wish to progress to a doctorate the MPhil combinies study of core subjects to a high level, opportunity to study specialised field subjects, and the experience of writing a research paper, providing an excellent foundation for a career as a professional economist. These advantages fully justify the additional effort and costs involved in a two-year programme

Class Profile

The MPhil has an average intake of 60-64 students. In 2014 the median age was 24, with students coming from 27 different countries. 14 students were from the EU, of whom 7 were from the UK. 22% of the students were female.

The Department will normally only admit students who have performed very well in their undergraduate education, at the level of a First Class Honours degree or its equivalent. Most students on the course have had their undergraduate studies devoted in whole or in part to economics, but we also have significant numbers with an undergraduate degree in other subjects. It is possible for students without exposure to formal economics (for example, students with an undergraduate degree in mathematics or the physical sciences) to do very well on the course. The two-year structure allows those without an undergraduate background in economics to develop a good understanding of the subject.

In a typical year, almost a third of the graduating MPhil class choose (and are permitted) to continue on to their DPhil studies.

Course Structure

In the first year there are three compulsory papers, in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and well as a non-examinable course in Mathematical Methods. The three papers are examined at the end of the first year.

In the second year, students take five courses (each lasting for one term) from the following list of options (not all of which will necessarily be offered every year).

Advanced Econometrics 1*, Advanced Econometrics 2*
Advanced Macroeconomics 1*, Advanced Macroeconomics 2*
Advanced Microeconomics 1*, Advanced Microeconomics 2*
Behavioural Economics
Development Economics 1, Development Economics 2
Economic History 1, Economic History 2
Financial Economics 1, Financial Economics 2
Industrial Organisation 1, Industrial Organisation 2
International Trade 1, International Trade 2
Labour Economics
Public Economics
Theory Based Empirical Anslysis

Each student takes at least one advanced course (*) and at least one field course (non-*). Courses are assessed by a 2-hour examination in the summer term of year 2.

Students 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 the student continues with his or her studies.


Students receive numerical grades for their thesis and for each paper, determined by their performance in the examinations. Based on these grades, the examiners may award a Pass or a Pass with Distinction for the course. There is also a prize for the best thesis and a prize for best overall performance in written papers.

 Course Timetable

  • Students arrive in Oxford in late September 2015 and attend an intensive mathematics course.
  • academic year and teaching on the core papers begin in October 2015
  • first-year examinations on core papers in June 2015
  • students are matched with a thesis supervisor in the final term of the first year and devote part of their  summer vacation to research work on their thesis
  • teaching on optional papers starts October 2016, students continue work on thesis
  • thesis to be completed in May 2017
  • optional papers are examined in June 2017, course finishes.

(The academic year at Oxford is divided into three terms, the first beginning in October and the last ending in June.)  

Continuing on to the DPhil

In a typical year, around a third of the graduating MPhil class will leave Oxford to pursue non-academic careers, most as professional economists.   Around half will choose to continue with their studies, either at Oxford or at another institution. 

Progress to the doctorate at Oxford is not automatic, and is subject to satisfactory performance on the MPhil.   For most students DPhil studies will take another two to three years. This time is devoted to the writing of a DPhil thesis, which can incorporate material from the MPhil thesis.   Every DPhil student works closely with a supervisor, who is often (but not always) the supervisor of the student’s MPhil thesis.

For more on the requirements of the DPhil, look under The Doctoral Research Degree in Economic section on the website.


Candidates are strongly advised to submit their applications by the first deadline in January, as places on the second deadline will be limited. Please note that all documents needed for the application must be submitted by the chosen deadline. If the accompanying documentation is incomplete, consideration of the application will be postponed to the following deadline (if there is one).

A student wishing to be admitted for the MPhil in Economics must be accepted first by the department and then by a college.

The University requires candidates to apply online and for their referees to submit online references. To access the online application system please visit the Graduate Admissions Office web site.  Please note that all documents needed for an application must be submitted by the chosen deadline.  In particular, candidates are responsible for ensuring that references are submitted on time.  If the accompanying documentation is incomplete, consideration of the application will be postponed to the following deadline (if there is one).

More information regarding the selection criteria for the MPhil Economics can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

A number of our MPhil students stay on in Oxford to do the DPhil in Economics.  Others go on to do internships (eg. European Commission, OECD, IMF), work in the public/private sector (Bank of England, NERA, Goldman Sachs) or go onto PhD courses elsewhere.




Information about the fees charged for the MPhil can be found on the Student Funding website. Most of our students have their fees and maintenance paid for by scholarships (eg. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Commonwealth, Clarendon, Rhodes, Marshall, Chevening, Nuffield College funded studentships, etc.). A number of Colleges also provide scholarships for outstanding applicants.

In addition to the scholarships mentioned in the prospectuses, the following sources of funding beginning in October 2015 are also available.

Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRC) Studentships (Economics Pathway)

The University of Oxford is one of 21 centres of postgraduate excellence accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a Doctoral Training Centre. The University is one of the major providers of social science research training in the UK, and has one of the largest and most diverse pools of academic social scientists producing internationally recognised research. It is home to a number of outstanding departments, which are committed to research to develop a greater understanding of all aspects of society.

Oxford's Department of Economics is one of Europe's leading research departments and its members include some of the world's most distinguished academic economists. In the most recent UK Research Assessment, Oxford Economics had more research output graded as world-leading in terms of its originality, rigour and significance than did any other economics department in the United Kingdom. The department has particular research strength in the areas of: behavioural economics, economic theory, econometrics, international economics and industrial organisation.  We have 5 studentships in Economics to offer for entry in 2015-16, and are pleased to invite applications for Masters-to-DPhil programmes starting in October 2015.

All students who apply are eligible to be considered for ESRC funding.

  • The Graduate Admissions Commitee makes awards to the most outstanding candidates subject to meeting the ESRC eligibility conditions.
  • The successful candidates will be contacted by the Department offering to nominate them for the award.
  • The application will be sent to the University's Doctoral Training Centre for approval.
  • Student will be contacted by the DTC confirming their award.

An ESRC studentship pays fees up to a stipulated level, typically lower than the fees for the MPhil, but the Department awards all holders of ESRC studentships a bursary to cover any difference.

Please note: To be considered for an ESRC studentship award, you must apply by the January admissions application deadline.

UniCredit & Universities Master in Philosophy (MPhil) Economics Scholarship

The scholarship is part of seven the UniCredit & Universities Foscolo Foundation has agreed to support beginning academic year 2015/16 at leading schools of economics in Europe. The Scholarship will cover full fees and cost of living for the two years of the programme.

The only restriction is that the student must be from the following 11 countries within the UniCredit perimeter: (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia).

Further information is available at:

All eligible students who are made an offer from the Department will be automatically considered for this award.

Oxford-Chellgren Studentship in Economics (joint with University College)

A fully funded Oxford-Chellgren Studentship is available to an outstanding candidate who applies to the Dept of Economics for either the 2+2 MPhil+DPhil programme or the 3-year DPhil programme, for October 2016 entry. The studentship is open to any nationality and does not require an explicit application to the college. The studentship will be awarded as part of the Department of Economics' annual studentship competition (online application deadline January 22nd 2016), and will cover all fees and living costs (under ESRC terms and conditions).

Oxford-Radcliffe Studentship in Economics (joint with University College)

A fully funded Oxford-Radcliffe Studentship is available to an outstanding candidate who applies to the Dept of Economics for either the 2+2 MPhil+DPhil programme or the 3-year DPhil programme, for October 2016 entry. The studentship is open to any nationality and does not require an explicit application to the college. The studentship will be awarded as part of the Department of Economics' annual studentship competition (online application deadline January 22nd 2016), and will cover all fees and living costs (under ESRC terms and conditions).

Fee Waivers

The Department of Economics is offering to waive University tuition fees for some incoming MPhil students or Probationer Research Students, at the Home/EU rate. All incoming students, whether Home/EU or Overseas, are eligible. A maximum of two such waivers will be granted to students in any single incoming cohort.

All eligible students who are made an offer from the Department will be automatically considered for these awards.

Scholarship enquiries should be sent to

St Cross College

St Cross college will be offering an MPhil scholarship in the Social Sciences for entry in 2016/17.  Please visit the following webpage for further information:

Fees and funding during DPhil studies

Graduate students at Oxford are required to pay University fees for up to four years and then a continuation charge. Detailed information about fees can be found at

Students who enter the MPhil in 2014 and proceed from the MPhil to the DPhil in Economics at Oxford and who are not in receipt of a full award (fees + maintenance) from another source can apply for a two-year Departmental Doctoral Studentship. The value of the Department’s Doctoral Studentship is set at 2/3 the value of the basic ESRC stipend (including home/EU fees).* Doctoral Studentship holders are required to teach for the Department or a College for up to four (contact) hours per week during term. Where a fees-only award permits their doing so, a student may hold such an award simultaneously with the Department’s Doctoral Studentship.