Whether your future career lies in financial services or elsewhere, Cambridge’s Economics course aims to develop your knowledge of the workings of economic systems along with a sense of the economic dimensions of social and political issues. While the specialised nature of this degree enables you to concentrate on studying economics in considerable depth, the course recognizes that economists need to employ modes of thought and techniques drawn from many other disciplines, among them history, politics, mathematics and statistics, and philosophy.
Full course details are provided on the Department’s Prospective Undergraduates webpage and the University’s Undergraduate Study webpage.
Economics at Churchill
Churchill has a distinguished history in Economics, built up in large part by one of its founding Fellows, Frank Hahn. Frank was an economic theorist of the first rank, who had a peerless command over the technical details of pure theory. He later became President of the Royal Economic Society (1986-89). Just as Winston Churchill had a vision of this College as an MIT for Britain, so Frank thought that Economics could play a similar role in a STEM-oriented college as it did in MIT. He played an important role in reviving the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge as one of the world’s leading centres of economic theoretical research and teaching.
Economics Fellows at Churchill have traditionally been highly involved in the wider academic world, particularly the United States, Europe and Japan. Many former students hold high office in universities, international organisations, government and industry, often exhibiting a commitment to public service at a national and international level. The undergraduate training at Cambridge is an excellent preparation for professional economics, which is itself a key to policy making, business strategy, and intellectual challenge.
Finally, we would like to stress that Economics is one of the few subjects where those who enjoy maths, science, building rigorous arguments and testing existing theories can work happily in more analytical areas such as mathematical economics, game theory, statistics or econometrics, while those who enjoy writing essays, arguing their side of an argument and convincing others can specialise in more applied areas such as public economics, money and banking or industrial economics.
Nobel Laureates at Churchill
Bob Solow (from MIT), responsible for the famous ‘Solow growth’ model, has been an Overseas Fellow on several occasions and continues to keep in touch; the late Ken Arrow, famous for his ‘impossibility theorem’, was an Honorary Fellow; and the French-born American economist Gerard Debreu was a visiting Fellow. The 2016 Nobel Laureate, Oliver Hart (now at Harvard), was an early teaching Fellow and is now an Honorary Fellow.
A whole galaxy of other impressive economists have enjoyed Fellowships. The late Tony Atkinson, former Warden of Nuffield College Oxford and one of the most distinguished British economists, was one of the first undergraduates of the College, and (we think) the first to be made a professor, first at Essex, then London, then returning to Cambridge and a professorial Fellowship in the College before leaving for Oxford. He became an Honorary Fellow. Douglas Gale, a former research Fellow and Chairman of the Faculty at New York University, has also been a Churchill College Fellow. The College has hosted the Churchill Lectures in Economics, and has enjoyed lectures from Peter Diamond, Paul Milgrom (of spectrum auction fame), Douglas Gale and Ariel Rubinstein, all subsequently published by Cambridge University Press.
To find out about admissions, go to Apply | Undergraduates.
Course-specific information, including the University’s typical offers and the attainment level of the University’s typical entrants, is available by selecting your course from the University’s Course List then looking at the Entry Requirements tab. Academic offer conditions can vary by College so if you want to apply to Churchill then check out our entries in the by-College list of entry requirements that’s available on the same tab. The University’s Entrance Requirements and International Entry Requirements webpages may contain guidance relevant to you too.
To learn more about the academic profiles of Churchill entrants and our approach to setting conditional offers, see Entry Requirements | Undergraduates.
If you apply to Churchill, we’ll ask you to submit two examples of teacher-marked written work. These should be taken from your present or most recent studies, and should not be re-written or corrected for your Cambridge application. Ideally, each piece should be 1500 to 2000 words in length.
All Economics applicants are required to take a written assessment before shortlisting for interview. There’s more information on and linked from the University’s Admissions Assessments webpage.
The role of academic interviews in Churchill’s admissions process is explained at Interviews | Undergraduates. You will be given preparatory maths questions to work on before the conversation and will be able to keep your workings with you. The remainder of the discussion will likely be on economic principles and your related interests. We try to ensure that knowledge of economics is not required – everything you need should be explained in our questions – but we expect those with no taught background in economics to have done some relevant reading and thinking. This might be through reading germane newspapers like The Economist, Financial Times, or any good broadsheet, or a general interest economics text such as Tom Schelling’s Micromotives and Macrobehavior or Axinish Dixit’s Thinking Strategically. Any books that focus on the underlying principles of economics, and especially rigorous analytical or logical thinking, will be helpful.
An Economics degree from Cambridge is more than just a good general degree suitable for virtually all graduate careers. It’s a degree tailored to a finance career in the City or management consulting, and even to professional economics, perhaps working as an economist in the City, Treasury or Bank of England. You may even find your thirst for economics drives you on to take a Masters or Doctorate and a career in academic Economics, or work in an international institution such as the World Bank or IMF might await.