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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.
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 command over the technical details of pure theory that was not surpassed by any economist of the 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 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.
Bob Solow, Nobel Laureate, from MIT has been an Overseas Fellow (on several occasions) and continues to keep in touch. Other Nobel Laureates who have visited include Ken Arrow (now an honorary Fellow) and Gerard Debreu, while a whole galaxy of other impressive visitors have enjoyed Overseas Fellowships. 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). Oliver Hart, now at Harvard, was an early teaching Fellow, and Douglas Gale, a former research Fellow and Chairman of the faculty at New York University, is now also a Fellow at the college. 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.
Economic Fellows in 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.
When considering Economics as a possible course of study, you should consider the following three categories: your A-level choices, your other qualifications and interests, and the choices which economics makes available to you.
A-level maths is a requirement at Churchill. This is because we firmly believe that for someone without Maths A-level (A2), achieving the minimum level of maths requirement would not leave enough time to do well enough 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 typical applicants might have a range of A-levels from "Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry" through to combinations like 'Maths, English, Economics, History' and the like.
A broad range of GCSEs or equivalent at grade A* or A are important. More generally a keen mind interested in solving analytical and logical problems, and interest in current affairs is vital. The ability to change and learn is also crucial: 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 change as you learn more about the theory and application of the relevant areas of economics.
|A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics||AS or A Level/IB Higher Level Further Mathematics is highly desirable. A Level/IB Higher Level Economics is useful.|
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.
Applicants are required to submit two pieces of written work, ideally on Economics or a related subject.
Applicants asked to interview will be interviewed by two economists: the Director of Studies, Nigel Knight and the Frank Hahn Fellow in Economics, Alexei Onatski. You will be given questions prior to one of your interviews and will be given time to prepare your answers. You may then discuss these during your interview, along with additional questions relating to economics and your other interests. The content of the questions discussed in the interview 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 those with no background in economics to have done some relevant reading and thinking. Typically this might be through 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.
An Economics degree from Cambridge is more than just a good general degree suitable for virtually all graduate careers, its 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 awaits.
For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.