Introduction

The MPhil in Economics is designed to provide rigorous training in economic theory, applied economics, and econometric methods. It is comparable to the first two years of a PhD programme at a US university.

The MPhil provides a solid foundation for progressing to doctoral research, while at the same time providing the advanced knowledge and skills required for a career as a professional economist in government 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.

The department has developed the MPhil to enable students to easily tailor the course to their specific needs and objectives. For those already intending to progress to a DPhil at Oxford or a PhD elsewhere, the MPhil will offer rigour and exposure to the research frontier. For those intending a career as a professional economist, the MPhil will offer a broad range of options and opportunities for skill development. And for those unsure about further study beyond the masters’ level, the two years of the MPhil programme will allow you to make this choice after learning more about what graduate economic training involves.

 

Continuing on to the DPhil

Each year around 10-20 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.

If you want to proceed to the DPhil in Economics, you should also consider the MPhil-DPhil programme. The vast majority of DPhil Economics students will study the combined MPhil-DPhil programme, entering at one of two points in time.

1.  Applying directly to the MPhil-DPhil: The department intends to admit around half of the DPhil cohort via the MPhil-DPhil programme in this way.

2.  Applying to the MPhil-DPhil midway through the MPhil: You may begin with the standalone MPhil and then apply to transfer to the MPhil- DPhil during the second year of the MPhil. The department intends to admit around half of the DPhil cohort in this second way.

For most students DPhil studies will take another three to four years.   Every DPhil student works closely with a supervisor. For more on the requirements of the DPhil, look under The Doctoral Research Degree in Economics section on the website.

 Course Structure

The first year of the programme starts with a non-examined preparatory course in mathematical methods. The first two terms of the academic year focus on three compulsory courses in the central areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. The three courses are offered on two levels. Most students will take the courses at the “core” level. However, you can apply to start directly at the “advanced” level, which is targeted at future DPhil students who already have had ample economics training before starting the MPhil. Students who take the core level courses in the first year can take any advanced level course in the second year. In the third term of the first year, you will choose from two entirely new courses in Empirical Research Methods and Advanced Maths. These courses will provide the specialised skills needed for academic or non-academic careers in our data-rich world and the technical tools for research in economics.

All students will have to take at least one of the two courses. Students who are interested in both courses can take the second one in Year 2. If you have extensive previous economic training, you might be able to do both in the same term in Year 1. You will also be able to use the third term to start working on your MPhil thesis.

In the second year, you will take four option courses. The option courses build on the first- year training and provide deeper and broader training in your areas of interest. You can take advanced-level courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics, econometrics and empirical research methods covering recent developments in theory and analytical techniques. Other option courses are designed to develop knowledge and understanding of theory, empirical 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.

The required thesis is an important component of the second year, and is supervised by a member of the department. The thesis is up to 20,000 words in length and is usually expected to contain some original research. It can be incorporated into a DPhil thesis, if you continue onto the doctoral programme.

All information below is indicative and subject to change.

Year 1

This course is targeted at future DPhil/PhD students who want to use mathematical modelling in their research. This includes students who work purely on theoretical topics as well as students who want to combine theoretical models with empirical research. The course will focus on proof and modelling techniques, i.e., provide a toolkit. The course will rely on extensive reading assignments and problem sets and the lectures will be mostly used to discuss the topics and to answer questions.

Topics will likely include:

  • Real Analysis
  • Advanced Linear Algebra
  • Multivariate Calculus & Constrained Optimisation
  • Differential and Difference Equations
  • Choice under Uncertainty
  • Advanced Probability & Random Processes
  • Measure Theory & Stochastic Calculus
  • Optimal Control Theory & Dynamic Programming

This course will teach students how to investigate empirical research questions. Any relevant statistical theory will be reviewed briefly as required, but emphasis throughout will be on developing their ability to apply this knowledge, to interpret the results of empirical work and on hands-on practical skills with data. 

The course will cover a range of methods and frameworks that are essential for applying and understanding empirical work in Economics. Topics will likely include:

  • Data structures and sampling.
  • The causes and consequences of measurement errors.
  • The Rubin-Neyman causal model.
  • Instrumental variables, partial identification, conditional independence, the Local Average Treatment Effects (LATE) framework.
  • Practical analysis of causal effects.
  • Structural versus reduced form methods.
  • Applied examples in micro- and macro-econometrics.

This course covers a selection of methods that are widely used in modern econometric theory and practice. It aims to provide students with a grounding in statistical and probability theory, econometric theory and methods, such that students are able to do research using econometric techniques, as well as have the basis for undertaking research in econometric theory.

Most students will take this course in Year 2 after already having passed Core Econometrics in Year 1. Some students, who have enough background in economics (and only with the permission of GSC) can take the course in Year 1 instead of the Core course. This course thus assumes more previous knowledge than the Core course and advances faster.

The course will cover a range of topics that are important for applying, understanding and developing econometric tools, likely including:

  • Principles of Statistical Inference
  • Asymptotic Theory
  • Model Selection, Shrinkage and Machine Learning
  • Non-parametric and Semi-parametric Methods
  • Simulation-based Methods
  • Advanced Topics in Time Series
  • Advanced Topics in Panel Data
  • Advance Topics in Causal Inference

The course aims to provide students with a grounding in statistical and probability theory, econometric theory and methods, and empirical applications in economics, such that applied econometrics reported in the main economics journals can be read with a good understanding and a critical perspective. The subject has advanced rapidly over the last couple of decades, and is an essential element in every economist’s toolkit.

The course will cover a range of topics that are important for understanding empirical research in microeconomics and macroeconomics, likely including:

  • Probability
  • Statistical Inference
  • Linear Regression
  • Instrumental Variables
  • Generalized Method of Moments
  • Maximum Likelihood
  • Limited Dependent Variables (discrete choice, censored regression, selection)
  • Time Series (ARMA models, ARDL/ECM models, unit roots and cointegration)
  • Panel Data (fixed effects, random effects, dynamic models)
  • Causal Inference (treatment effects, matching, LATE, difference-in-differences, regression discontinuity designs)

The objective of the course is to give students a thorough grounding in modern dynamic macroeconomic theory so that they can understand the modern macroeconomic literature and can perform macroeconomic analysis in an academic environment.

Most students will take this course in Year 2 after already having passed Core Macroeconomics in Year 1. Some students, who have enough background in economics (and only with the permission of GSC) can take the course in Year 1 instead of the Core course. This course thus assumes more previous knowledge than the Core course and advances faster.

In particular, the course will likely cover the following topics:

  • Empirical methods for estimation and identification in macroeconomics
  • Advanced numerical methods for macroeconomic models
  • Open economy models, exchange rate and terms of trade
  • Imperfect information in macroeconomics
  • Labor market frictions and unemployment
  • Heterogenous models for macroeconomic analysis
  • Macroeconomics policies at the zero lower bound
  • The role of communication for economic policy

The objective of the course is to give students a thorough grounding in modern dynamic macroeconomic theory so that they can understand the modern macroeconomic literature and can perform macroeconomic analysis in a professional environment.

In particular, the course will likely cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to dynamic optimization in economics (discrete and continuous time)
  • Numerical methods for solution, calibration and estimation of models
  • Models of economic growth & Real Business Cycle models
  • Models with labor market rigidities & Models with financial frictions
  • New Keynesian models
  • Fiscal and monetary policy
  • Unconventional policies
  • Open economies models
  • Models with heterogeneous agents

The objective of the course is to give students a thorough grounding in microeconomics so that they can understand the modern microeconomic literature and can perform microeconomic analysis in an academic environment.

Most students will take this course in Year 2 after already having passed Core Microeconomics in Year 1. Some students, who have enough background in economics (and only with the permission of GSC) can take the course in Year 1 instead of the Core course. This course thus assumes more previous knowledge than the Core course and advances faster.

Topics covered in this course will be:

  • Consumer and Producer Theory and Choice under Uncertainty
  • General Equilibrium
  • Game Theory
  • Contracts, Bargaining, Theory of the Firm, and Auctions
  • Welfare and Public Economics

The objective of the course is to give students a thorough grounding in microeconomics so that they can understand the modern microeconomic literature and can perform microeconomic analysis in a professional environment.

Topics covered in this course will be:

  • Consumer and Producer Theory and Choice under Uncertainty
  • General Equilibrium
  • Game Theory
  • Contracts, Bargaining, Theory of the Firm, and Auctions
  • Welfare and Public Economics

Year 2

This course covers a selection of methods that are widely used in modern econometric theory and practice. 

This course covers a selection of methods that are widely used in modern econometric theory and practice.

Departures from rational expectations (learning and robustness) with applications to macroeconomics and finance. Solution and estimation techniques for DSGE models.

Classical and Bayesian estimation of VARs. Practical implementations. Applications to monetary and fiscal policy in closed and open economy.

This course consists of several lecture modules covering important topics in Microeconomic Theory. Students taking this course as two units should attend most or all of the lectures in both terms. Students taking this course as one unit are free to choose whichever lecture modules they wish to attend (regardless of the term) after taking into account the examination expectations.

Behavioural Economics is a blend of traditional neoclassical microeconomics and empirically motivated assumptions whose goal is a better understanding of economic behaviour. It can be divided into behavioural decision theory and behavioural game theory. Each subfield differs from its mainstream counterpart by paying particular attention to the psychological realism of behavioural assumptions and their consistency with empirical evidence. The goal is to identify empirically important deviations from traditional assumptions, use the alternative assumptions the evidence suggests to build tractable formal models, and use the models to reconsider standard microeconomic questions. (Much of the empirical evidence used is experimental, but this is not a course in experimental economics: Experimental methods are considered only as needed to interpret evidence; and connections with field evidence will be made whenever they are helpful.)

This course is designed to introduce you to major themes in the microeconomics of development, covering both empirical and theoretical methods. The course is taught in Michaelmas, and comprises 16 lectures, covering core development economics theory and discussing application of microeconometric methods to developing countries. Lectures are divided into four modules; in 2019-20, we plan to offer modules on (i) firms and development, (ii) organisations and development, (iii) households and development and (iv) cash, microfinance and development.

This course will provide an introduction to the sources and methods of quantitative economic history and review some of the major current debates of interest to economists. It aims to show both how economic analysis can sharpen our understanding of history and how historical research can be used to shed light on the current state of the economy. The first part of the course will focus on the Great Divergence of living standards between Europe and Asia, showing how recent quantitative work has sharpened our understanding of both the timing and the causes of the divergence. The second part concentrates on the period from the Industrial Revolution to the present, highlighting the roles of technology, geography and income distribution in shaping economic performance.

This course provides an introduction to the history of globalisation and to monetary and financial history. The first half of the course provides an introduction to the history of the international economy over the past two centuries and asks. What were the causes and consequences of globalisation and deglobalisation over the long run? The course will focus in particular on the period between 1870 and 1939 and special attention will be paid to the Great Depression and its consequences.

The second half of the course offers a mpore thematic approach to monetary and financial history, with successive lectures exploring money and the price level, business cycle,  financial crisis and the international monetary system. What provides the nominal anchor for an economy? Do fluctuations in nominal magnitudes have concequence for real activity? Can financial crisis be explained by weak economic fundamentals or are they self-fulfilling panics? How have balance of payments adjustment mechanisms worked in different exchange rate regimes?

This course will teach students how to apply advanced empirical research methods. This will include both econometric/statistical techniques and numerical solution methods. As with Core ERM, relevant theory will be reviewed briefly as required, but emphasis throughout will be on developing students' ability to apply this knowledge and on hands-on practical skills with data. 

The course will cover a range of methods and frameworks that are essential for applying and understanding empirical work in economics including:

  • Regression discontinuity analysis.
  • Bunching estimators.
  • Propensity score matching.
  • Computational inference: bootstrapping and jack-knife methods.
  • Nonparametric regression methods.
  • Implementation of Gaussian Process regression,
  • Linear and non-linear programming.
  • The analysis of graphs/network data.
  • Machine learning techniques for clustering, learning and prediction.

The course is an introduction to major issues in asset pricing and market microstructure.  Topics covered may include the following: equilibrium in security markets, incomplete asset markets, options pricing, CAPM and APT, money and default, financial crisis and systemic risk, models in theoretical and empirical microstructure, prices and rational expectations equilibrium, strategic trading.

The course covers the major research themes in corporate finance. Theoretical topics include capital structure, the real effects of secondary security markets, long-term contracting and incomplete contracts, mechanism design and corporate insolvency. Lectures on empirical corporate finance will focus on identification and estimation issues related to research on governance and ownership structure.

The course covers models of pricing in monopoly and oligopoly. Lectures cover theoretical and empirical treatments with an approximately equal weight. Indicative theoretical topics include oligopoly pricing, price discrimination, product differentiation, adverse selection, and network externalities. Empirical topics include analysis of pricing and demand, estimating adverse selection in insurance markets, and empirical analysis of games of entry and exit. 

The aim of the course is to give an overview of the recent literature in international macroeconomics and finance as well as to develop tools and ideas for writing research papers. The first part focuses on the real determinants of the current account. The second part studies international financial markets and business cycles. The last part looks at financial crises and monetary policy in open economy.

What determines countries’ production structures and the consequent patterns of international trade?  How does trade shape the level and evolution of the distribution of income within and between countries?  What are the arguments for and against trade policy?  The course will cover comparative advantage, including classical and Heckscher-Ohlin trade theory; monopolistic competition and firm heterogeneity. Material will be primarily micro-economic theoretic but will also include empirical tests of theory.

This course will build on International Trade 1, paying more attention to recent journal literature. Topics to be covered will include: competition and selection effects in models of heterogeneous firms, quantifying the gains from trade, empirical regularities and theoretical properties of the world trade matrix and the role of "superstar firms" in international trade.

This course will introduce you to major themes in the modern analysis of labour markets, covering both empirical and theoretical methods. Part I, focuses on the flow approach to labour market analysis, covering job search, labour market matching models, and the use of equilibrium search models for policy analysis. Part 2, begins with the evidence on wages and inequality, then explores foundations for the explanation of wages – labour supply, human capital, and the task approach – before focusing on the particular implications of discrimination and international trade.

The course focuses on social insurance and the welfare state, in particular on how much governments protect individuals against risk, such as of becoming unemployed or of receiving low wages and on the impact of redistribution programs to reduce poverty. This naturally feeds into understanding the importance of uncertainty and inequality. The course combines empirical analysis with theoretical models and institutional knowledge of actual government programs. The course uses a life-cycle framework to model how individuals respond to social insurance and the welfare state.

The course will present an overview of the literature on spatial and urban economics.  A theory part will cover models of economic organisation within cities and also the distribution and organisation of cities within countries.  The theory part will loosely follow the book by Fujita, Krugman and Venables and recent extensions.  An empirical part will discuss recent empirical papers in the field, including on shock and recovery, factors behind urbanisation and the effects of various infrastructure programs on urban development.

Admission Criteria

For full details on the Admissions Criteria for the MPhil Economics, please visit the Oxford University webpage here.

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 Oxford University webpage here and select the ‘How to Apply’ tab.

All candidates are expected to have working knowledge in one programming language (of the candidate’s choice) at the start of the programme. The department will provide advice to accepted candidates on how to acquire such knowledge.

Fees and Funding

You can find more information about the annual fees for the MPhil Economics on the Oxford University webpage here by selecting the ‘Funding and Costs tab’.

Scholarships

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.

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.

In addition to the scholarships mentioned in the prospectuses, the following sources of funding beginning in October 2021 are also available:

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

The ESRC is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on social and economic issues. The University, in collaboration with Brunel University and the Open University, hosts the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership - one of fourteen Doctoral Training Partnerships accredited by the ESRC as part of a Doctoral Training Network

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: development economics, economic theory, econometrics, international economics and industrial organisation.

Additional studentships in Economics are also available for the DPhil if the research makes extensive use of Advanced Quantitative Methods.

In order to be considered for a Grand Union DTP ESRC studentship, you must select ‘ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences’ in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form. You must also complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form and upload it, together with your graduate application form, by the relevant January deadline for your course.

  • The Department’s Graduate Funding Panel selects the most outstanding candidates subject to their meeting the ESRC eligibility conditions.
    • Selected candidates are contacted by the Department to confirm that they wish to be nominated for an ESRC studentship.
    • The nominations, including supporting statements from the Department, are forwarded to the GU DTP Awards Panel for review and assessment in mid-March. (This is an open competition across the three universities in the partnership, and also not just for Economics.)
    • Successful nominees are contacted by the GU DTP informing them that they are being offered an ESRC studentship, usually by late March.

Information about ESRC studentships at Oxford can be found on the Grand Union DTP website. Please ensure you have read all of the guidance available on the website before completing the Grand Union DTP Application Form. Questions can be directed to the Grand Union DTP Office.

Clarendon Scholarships

The Clarendon Fund offers fully-funded scholarships covering course fees, as well as a grant for living expenses for the period of fee liability. There are no restrictions on nationality, ordinary residence or field of study. All full-time and part-time DPhil and Master’s courses are eligible. You will be automatically considered for a Clarendon award if you apply by the relevant January deadline for your course. You do not need to submit a separate application.

  • The Department’s Graduate Funding Panel selects the most outstanding candidates.
  •  The nominations, including supporting statements from the Department, are forwarded to the Clarendon Scholarships Panel for review and assessment in mid-March. (This is an open competition across the University, and not just for Economics.)
  • Successful nominees are contacted by the Fund informing them that they are being offered a Clarendon scholarship, usually by late March.

Clarendon scholars are selected for their outstanding academic merit and potential, and the scholarships are highly competitive. More information can be found on the Clarendon Fund website.

Nuffield-Economics Studentship (joint with Nuffield College)

A fully funded Nuffield-Economics Studentship is available to an outstanding candidate who applies to the Department of Economics for the MPhil programme,  the 3-year DPhil programme or the MPhil-DPhil programme, for October 2021 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 in January 2021), and will cover all fees and living costs (under terms and conditions).

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

A fully funded Oxford-Chellgren Studentship is available to an outstanding candidate who applies to the Department of Economics for the MPhil programme, the 3-year DPhil programme or the MPhil-DPhil programme, for October 2021 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 in January 2021), and will cover all fees and living costs (under terms and conditions).

UniCredit & Universities Master in Philosophy (MPhil) Economics Scholarship (To be confirmed)

Shelagh Hefferman Award

The Shelagh Heffernan Award is for a student admitted to the MPhil in Economics who demonstrates exceptional academic merit and who graduated from one of the following Canadian universities: University of Toronto, Queen's University at Kingston, the University of British Columbia. The value of the award is £4,500 in each year of the two year degree, payable at the start of the academic year.

St Cross: MPhil Scholarship in Social Sciences

St Cross College offers two MPhil Scholarships for students studying at the University of Oxford for an MPhil degree in any of the humanities and social science disciplines or for the BPhil degree in Philosophy. The Scholarships each have the value of £4,000 per annum and are each tenable for two years coterminous with fee liability (but only one year for the one-year MPhil in Law course). The Scholarships each have the value of £4,000 per annum and are each tenable for two years coterminous with fee liability (but only one year for the one-year MPhil in Law course). To be considered for these scholarships, applicants must have applied to study for a Master’s-level course by the January 2021 deadline. No separate application is required and all eligible offer-holders will be considered for these awards.

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 rate. All incoming students, whether Home 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 econgrad.admissions@economics.ox.ac.uk