Oxford’s Economics pathway starts with the MPhil, the first year of which concentrates on core courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Students then progress to the second year, studying a mix of more advanced material covering recent developments in theory & analytical techniques, plus a selection of specialised field subjects; they also spend about 1/3 of their time writing a thesis.

This two year format provides training in graduate level Economics comparable to the first two years of PhD programmes in the best US universities, and prepares the students with the high level analytical skills needed to embark on a doctorate; moreover the MPhil thesis is often used as a basis for the first part of the doctoral thesis.

Some doctoral students specialise in the more theoretical aspects of economics or econometrics, whereas others deploy their quantitative research methods to gather and analyse economic data. Throughout, they are supported by one of the strongest, largest, and most varied groups of economists in the world, consisting of about 60 faculty, plus 30 additional research staff. All in all, the students emerge with the knowledge and skills needed for academic careers or roles as senior economists in central banks, finance ministries or international organisations.

Within this pathway, the main route (known as ‘2+2.5’) involves an intensive two-year MPhil in Economics, followed by a further two years of research culminating in a doctoral thesis:

Alternatively, 1+3.5 students start with the MSc Economics for Development and usually continue on to the DPhil in Economics but can continue to the DPhil in International Development (see International Development page). 

The ‘+3.5’ route is for students who have completed the MSc in Economics for Development at Oxford or a recognised Economics Master’s programme to a high level at another institution. The first year of this route is roughly equivalent to the second year of the MPhil.



The Department’s research centres and research groups have close links with economic practitioners in their fields facilitating knowledge exchange: for example, in 2015 a joint workshop was organised by the macroeconomics research group and economists of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Several doctoral students are engaged on International Growth Centre projects providing advice to governments and other agencies in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Tanzania.

Recently, students have undertaken internships with organisations including the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, European Central Bank, and the UK Home Office. In addition, the Bank of England and Goldman Sachs each provide a short summer internship for a doctoral student specialising in macroeconomics or finance. The Department is also accredited by the Asian Development Bank to nominate candidates for their programme.

Recent job placements include academic posts in the UK, USA and Australia, and positions at the Bank of England, IMF, OECD and World Bank.

Pathway leader: Professor Howard Smith

Contact: Graduate Admissions Officer

University of Oxford

Department of Economics
Provision: 1+3.5, 2+2.5, +3.5