The MPhil in Economic and Social History is run jointly with the Department of Economics and the Faculty of History.

This two-year specialist course offers a unique framework for research training in economic and social history. It offers a wide range of options and allows you to specialise in economic and/or social history, or historical demography, although the boundaries between these areas are deliberately permeable.

This course is intended to introduce you to the wide variety of methods used in the study of economic and social history, as well as to the subject itself. The core qualifying papers provide an opportunity to evaluate a range of different approaches and impart a common language and create a close and friendly community, in which ideas are shared. Here, strong personal ties are forged, developing a base from which to venture out and experience the intellectual, social, and cultural rewards of Oxford.

Through studying this programme, you will develop the techniques, skills and knowledge required to contribute to the study of history from a social science perspective, within a unique framework for research training in economic and social history.

The MPhil in Economic and Social History covers substantially the same ground as the MSc in Economic and Social History, but in greater depth; second-year students have an opportunity to extend their substantive historical knowledge by completing two additional advanced papers and a more extended and demanding dissertation, which is 30,000 words in length compared with the 15,000-word dissertation for the MSc degree.

An overview of the core structure is outlined below. Further details about the Advanced Options courses can be found at the course website:

The advanced options of the History of Science and Medicine programmes are also available for Economic and Social History candidates; and candidates may choose – with the support of their supervisor – papers from other suitable MPhil programmes, such as Economics.

Core qualifying papers

Economics can appear inaccessible to anyone not familiar with its language and method. Yet it remains a versatile and useful approach to the study of social behaviour. The aim of this course is to introduce student to the principles and basic concepts of economics, both in microeconomics and macroeconomics, and to demystify some of the jargon often used in the discipline. Over nine sessions, we will explore various elements in the economist’s ‘toolbox’, placing special emphasis on how these elements are applied to describe and understand the real world.

This course does not assume or require that any prior knowledge of economics or maths. It has also been designed to complement the Economic and Social History MSc/MPhil core courses. It is therefore particularly suited for graduate students who have not previously studied economics and who are interested in gaining a working knowledge of the main concepts in the field. Students with some knowledge of economics, however, might also find it useful for reviewing concepts or clarifying ideas.

The course is designed (in conjunction with the quantitative methods courses) to prepare graduates for research in economic and social history. It provides an opportunity to view the subject as a whole and to consider its origins, its methodological foundations, its relations with adjacent disciplines and its current trends, achievements, and problems. It presents some of the central methodological issues of the social sciences, and some of their recent advances. It then indicates how these various methodological approaches can be applied to the study of economic and social history.

Four Advanced Options

America in International context, 1865-1941: Globalization of Crisis

Anthropometric history

British financial history since the twelfth century

Crime and punishment in Britain: c. 1700-1900

Death of a dream? Social democracy and the political economy of English working class since 1945

Economic history of Europe between the wars

Economy and society in colonial Africa, c. 1800 to 1960

Flocks, Crops and Rocks: Australian Economic History since 1788

Globalisation, economic development and World War II in South-East Asia

History from below: working-class autobiography as a source for economic historians

History of economic thought

Indian entrepreneurship: past and present

Macro-economic behaviour of the British economy since 1870

Navies and economies: Britain and France, 1660-1815

Peasant societies, economies, and polities: Western Europe, c.750 - c.1950

Philosophy and methodology of economics

Social and cultural change in France, 1600 to 1720

The English country house: archives, architecture and economic history

The growth of a metropolis: society and economy in London, 1550-1700

Themes and debates in modern British agrarian history


Dissertation (MPHIL in Economic and Social History)

Admission Criteria

For full details on the Admissions Criteria for the MPhil in Economics and Social History, please visit the Oxford University webpage here.
Applicants are assessed using five main criteria: previous results (sometimes interim), references, proposal (viability of topic and level of background research already done), written work (research and writing skills), and overall preparedness for the course. Specifically, applicants with following qualities will be sought:

• Capacity to work at a high intellectual level
• Preparedness for your proposed programme of study
• Ability to identify and formulate an appropriate project for individual research (not equally important for admission to all master’s programmes, but – all things being equal – excellence in this regard will always increase your competitiveness for funding)
• Fit with our programme and supervisory capacity

Fees and Funding

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


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.

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
  • Ertegun Graduate Scholarship
  • Aso Group Scholarship
  • Beit Trust Wadham Scholarship
  • St Cross HAPP MPhil Scholarship in the History of Science and the St Cross MPhil Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the St Cross-SBFT Scholarship in the Humanities
  • William R Miller Postgraduate awards
  • Oxford-Rokos Postgraduate awards
  • Milsom Studentship in English Legal History 2017

Candidates will automatically be considered for their eligibility for funding from a number of sources including the AHRC, the Clarendon Fund, Oxford Colleges and benefactors.