The MSc in Economics for Development is run jointly with the Department of Economics and the Department of International Development

This is a nine-month degree in development economics with a strong emphasis on bringing methods of modern economic analysis to economic development theory and policy. The course will prepare you for further academic research or for work as a professional development economist in international agencies, governments or the private sector.

The course seeks to cultivate the analytical and critical skills relevant to economic development, in particular those needed to assess alternative approaches to policy. It provides the rigorous quantitative training that development work now requires, helping you develop the ability to access, process and interpret a variety of data. It aims to provide the research tools and approaches needed for those who wish to proceed to doctoral research in development economics.


The course is taught through lectures and classes and, for the development modules, student presentations. The quantitative methods course also includes hands-on training in the use of specialist statistical software. Class sizes are small – usually between 5 and 30 students – encouraging active participation and enabling students to learn from each other.

During the course you will be required to complete a number of problem sets as well as writing essays for individual supervisors (the tutorial system). This system is used to build critical and analytical skills, and is particularly beneficial to students from a different background of instruction.

Students will take courses in economic theory (macroeconomics, microeconomics and trade), quantitative methods (ie econometrics) and development economics. The latter consists of a series of modules covering different topics; students typically follow four or five out of the eight modules offered.

A central component of the course is a 10,000-word extended essay written on a subject which you choose in consultation with your supervisor and with the agreement of your Course Director.


This course covers material examined in the Microeconomic Theory paper. The objective of the course is to provide a graduate-level introduction to the microeconomics of development and a basis for the relevant Development Economics modules.

Topics covered in the lecture course are:

  • Producer and consumer theory
  • General equilibrium and welfare theorems
  • Welfare, poverty and inequality
  • Welfare analysis, consumer surplus, and policy evaluation
  • Household models
  • Uncertainty and inter-temporal decision making
  • Imperfect competition and game theory
  • Asymmetric information and contract theory

This course covers material examined in the Macroeconomic Theory paper.The objective of the course is to provide an overview of modern open-economy macroeconomics at the graduate level, to show how this body of theory can be adapted to the characteristics of open developing economies, and to provide a basis for the relevant Development Economics modules.

The principal lecture topics are:

  • Long-run growth and short run shocks: an introduction to development macroeconomics
  • The small open economy: dynamic models of the current account
  • The small open economy: inter-sectoral allocation and real exchange rates
  • Fiscal policy, debt and overlapping generations models
  • Asset markets and money in the open economy

This course covers material examined in both the Macroeconomic Theory and the Microeconomic Theory papers. The objective of the course is to provide an introduction to international trade theory, focussing on the aspects that are most relevant for developing economies.

Topics covered are:

  • Ricardian model
  • Specific factors model
  • Heckscher-Ohlin model
  • Monopolistic competition
  • Heterogeneous firms

The objective of this course is to provide an introduction to the use of econometric methods in the study of development economics. Students will be encouraged to apply techniques covered in this course in other components of the M.Sc., including their Extended Essay.

Topics covered include cross-sectional regression; Maximum Likelihood; the linear probability model and probit and logit models; time series; tobit; sample selection; (dynamic) panel data estimators; instrumental variable estimation; treatment effects.

Please note that the modules offered may change from year to year. Below is a list of modules that are available to students in 2016-17; there is no guarantee that the same modules will be offered in future years.

  • Firms and labour markets in low-income countries
  • Openness & Development
  • Structural Transformation & Growth
  • Urban and Spatial Economics
  • Political Economy of Economic Development
  • Risk, Disasters and Insurance
  • Education, Skills and Development
  • Applications of Psychology and Behavioural Economics in Development Economics.

Admission Criteria

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in economics.

Applicants whose first degree contains little or no economics cannot be considered for this course. The minimum requirement is the equivalent of two years of full-time study at university level of economics courses (please note that courses in finance, planning, business, management and other similar subjects do not count as economics courses). Some mathematical and quantitative ability is essential for this course.

If your first degree contains too little economics for the MSc, but you nonetheless wish to study development at Oxford, you may wish to consider the two-year MPhil in Economics or the two-year MPhil in Development Studies.

Entrance to the course is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.8 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

You must submit a recent Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score. There is no specified minimum GRE score, and these scores are only used to provide useful comparative information in the admissions process, especially for students coming from non-UK institutions.

To be considered for admission into this programme you need to apply by the January deadline.

Fees and Funding

The current fees for the MSc in Economics for Development are below:

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You can find more information about fees on the Oxford University Fees and Funding webpages.



There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Please note that you MUST include all supporting materials required for your intended course. English language certificates must be submitted by any applicant whose first language is not English (who has not successfully completed a degree course in the UK), and for the MSc in Economics for Development, the GRE certificate must be submitted by all applicants.

The January deadline is the latest deadline for the vast majority of Oxford's scholarships. You should ensure that your complete application has been submitted together with all required supporting materials before this deadline.

For two-thirds of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application, made in time for the January deadline, is usually required. If you fulfill the eligibility criteria, you will automatically be considered. There are some scholarships for which you specifically apply, and they may use different deadlines. Check the deadlines and other instructions through the Fees, Funding and Scholarship Search.

Below is a list of awards that are available for students applying.

  • Departmental Awards
  • Clarendon Scholarships
  • Economics Department Scholarships
  • ESRC Studentships
  • Weidenfeld Scholarships
  • There may be other scholarships available.