Economics

Economics at Cambridge

Whether your future career lies in financial services or elsewhere, the Cambridge University 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.

Economics is a broad subject. If you enjoy maths, science, building rigorous arguments, and testing existing theories, you could work happily in analytical areas such as mathematical economics, game theory, statistics or econometrics. If you enjoy writing essays, arguing your side of a case, and convincing others, you could specialise in more applied areas such as public economics, money and banking or industrial economics.

Full details of the University's Economics course are provided on the Faculty of Economics website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

Economics at Churchill

Churchill College has a distinguished history in Economics, built up in large part by one of its founding Fellows, Frank Hahn. He was an economic theorist of the first rank who had a command over the technical details of pure theory that was unsurpassed by any economist of his time. He later became President of the Royal Economic Society (1986-89). Just as Winston Churchill had a vision of the College as an MIT for Britain, so Frank thought that Economics could play a similar role in a science- and engineering-orientated College as it did in MIT. Frank 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.

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. Many of our former students hold high office in universities, international organisations, and government and industry, often exhibiting a commitment to public service at a national and international level.

Prominent Economists at Churchill

Churchill College is associated with a number of Nobel Laureates in Economics. 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.

A whole galaxy of other impressive economists have enjoyed Fellowships. The late Tony Atkinson, sometime 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 as a Professorial Fellowship of the College before leaving for Oxford). Douglas Gale, a former research Fellow and Chairman of the Faculty at New York University, has also been a College Fellow.


Admissions

When considering Economics as a possible course of study, you should consider the following three categories: your A Level or equivalent choices, your other qualifications and interests, and the choices which Economics makes available to you.

Subject pre-requisites

A Level or equivalent Mathematics is a requirement at Churchill. This is because we firmly believe that if you do not have Maths A Level, achieving the minimum level of maths required would not leave enough time for you to do well in the remaining elements of the Economics course. However, A Level Economics is not a requirement as the course assumes no prior Economics knowledge. Science A Levels are useful both for the additional Maths content and the analytical thinking that they encourage, and Further Maths is especially recommended. A Levels in the arts, humanities and social sciences, such as languages, English, History, Politics, Geography, and many more, are useful for both analytical and essay-writing skills. As a result, you might apply with a range of A Levels, from 'Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry', through to Maths, English, Economics and History'.

Other skills and qualifications

A broad range of top grade GCSEs or equivalent are important. More generally, you should have a keen mind and be interested in solving analytical and logical problems. An interest in current affairs is vital, as is your ability to change and learn. It may be that you come to Cambridge with particular opinions on government intervention, health, education, transport, trade and globalisation. Be prepared for your views to evolve as you learn more about the theory and application of the relevant areas of Economics.

Essential Highly desirable/useful
A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics  A Level Further Mathematics is highly desirable. A Level/IB Higher Level Economics is useful.

Standard entry requirements

Written assessments

Cambridge University uses a system of common format written assessments, specifically tailored to each subject. These give us valuable additional evidence of your academic ability, knowledge base, and potential to succeed at Cambridge. 

More information on written assessments

Written work

We will ask you to submit two examples of teacher-marked written work, ideally on Economics or a related subject.

Interviews

If called, you will normally have two interviews, typically with academic Fellows of the College (including the Director of Studies). Before one of your interviews, you will be given written questions and time to prepare your answers. You will then discuss these during the interview, along with additional questions relating to Economics and your other interests. The content of the questions discussed in the interviews varies year by year, but will typically be a simplified version of what you might expect to see in a first year undergraduate supervision at Cambridge in microeconomics or macroeconomics.

We will try to ensure that knowledge of Economics is not required (everything you need should be explained in the question), though we would expect you to have done some relevant reading and thinking if you have no background in Economics . This might include reading relevant newspapers (such as 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 book that focuses on the underlying principles of Economics, and especially rigorous analytical or logical thinking will be helpful.


Careers

An Economics degree from Cambridge is more than just a good general degree, suitable for virtually all graduate careers. It is 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. Alternatively, you may 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.


Useful links

The Royal Economic Society

The American Economic Association


Contact

For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office

 

 

Image © Andreas Poike

Director of Studies

Nigel Knight

Director of Studies

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Dr Alexei Onatski

Frank Hahn Fellow in Economics

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