So you’ve decided that you’d like to study an undergraduate economics degree at university. The next question to answer is where exactly you would like to go?
Universities across the U.K. and overseas offer economics courses, but there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing what university to apply to.
For example, do you want to study economics as a single subject, or would you prefer to study a combined degree that mixes economics with finance, politics, or international relations?
Some universities only offer economics as a single degree, so that may have an impact on which universities you decide to apply to.
Other considerations should be:
- How respected the university’s economics department is;
- The quality of the education that you’ll be provided;
- What modules the course will cover – some universities specialise in different areas of economics; and
- The location of the university and your willingness to travel there.
There are many marked differences in economics courses between the best universities in the U.K., so taking the time to research any potential university thoroughly will help you make the right decision when the time comes to decide which institutions to apply to.
It also helps to visit the university on any open days that may be available. If possible, it’s also a great idea to try and talk to a former graduate in economics about their experience of the course, and what aspects they liked and disliked. This should help you make an informed decision about which university should best suit your studying style and personality.
Below is an overview of some of the best universities to study economics in the U.K. Such overviews should give you a good idea of what to expect from studying from these institutions, although don’t be afraid to carry out your own research as well. You can never be too informed when it comes to picking a university!
Economics At Cambridge Or Oxford
Cambridge and Oxford are the two most famous universities in the U.K. and are internationally-renowned institutions for the quality of their education and research.
Both universities regularly rank among the best universities in the world. In the Times Higher Education 2018 World University Rankings, Oxford University actually placed first for the second year in a row, while Cambridge University came in second.
Although competition to get into both universities is exceptionally fierce, it’s worth applying if you have the academic aptitude and want to get one of the finest educations available.
However, there are some differences between the economics degrees taught at Oxford and Cambridge that you should be aware of.
For instance, a first-year economics undergraduate degree at Cambridge University, according to their website, focuses on:
- Quantitative Methods in Economics;
- Political and Social Aspects of Economics; and
- British Economic History”
There is a continued emphasis on microeconomics and macroeconomics in subsequent years, with a number of optional modules also available throughout the degree.
Oxford, on the other hand, offers a number of combined economics courses, including:
- Economics and management;
- History and economics; and
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics, known as PPE.
Microeconomics and macroeconomics remain core aspects of the economics syllabus at Oxford University, with other optional modules.
Finally, it’s worth noting that both the University of Oxford and Cambridge have a collegiate system. This means that the universities are made up of a number of different colleges, differing in size, age, and the number of tutors that specialise in degree subjects.
Students usually live within college accommodation and will have supervisions (similar to tutorials) at the college, although degree lectures are often held at university buildings so that students from all colleges can attend.
If you want to study economics at one of these two universities, it’s worth researching which college will best suit you, and if possible you should try to visit those colleges during an open day.
Look At An Economics League Table For Inspiration
University or subject league tables can be a great tool when researching the best universities where you can study economics, as they can give an indication of the quality of an economics degree at a particular university.
Although you shouldn’t base your decision on which universities to apply to on league tables alone, there are some universities that consistently score highly in such tables, and are generally regarded as excellent universities to attend. Some of these universities’ economics courses are discussed below.
Warwick - Economics
Economics is offered as either a single or combined degree, so it really depends on what you’d like to focus on. As can be expected in all economics degrees, there is a focus on microeconomics, macroeconomics, as well as econometrics, although there are also modules on topics such as economic history.
UCL - Economics
UCL requires applicants to have an A* in mathematics to get on to their economics undergraduate course, highlighting the importance of numerical literacy in many economics courses.
As a result, there is an emphasis on mathematics and statistics in the first year, although you’ll still be expected to use your numerical skills in years two and three of the course.
Durham - Economics
As with many universities, economics can be studied on its own at Durham, or in combination with other subjects, such as:
- Politics; and
- Philosophy and Politics
The course content is reviewed each year and covers both domestic and international aspects of economics, as well as fundamental economic concepts and theories. There is also the opportunity to take modules from other departments, so there’s a lot of variety on offer when it comes to what modules to study.
Like Oxford and Cambridge, Durham University is a collegiate university, so it’s worth spending some time researching the various colleges to see which one could suit you.
It's worth remembering that, regardless of what university league tables say, every individual is different, and will likely prefer one economics course or university over another. This is why it's worth taking the time to visit each university that you're interested in during their open day and speak to current economics students for their take on how much they enjoy their economics syllabus, as well as life at that university more generally.
Having first-hand reports of how university life is at different institutions can best equip you when the time comes to make a decision about where to apply to study.
Of course, there are other things you should keep in mind when researching universities, as outlined below.
Make The Long-Term Investment In An Economics Degree
There are so many excellent universities in the U.K., and there are some that haven’t been covered in this article.
The important thing when choosing a university is to ensure that you understand and research a number of things, examples being:
- What the degree syllabus entails;
- How long the degree lasts (a Bachelor’s degree usually lasts three or four years);
- How much contact time with tutors or professors you’ll have each week; and
- How your degree is assessed – is your grade based on examinations at the end of your final year, or are you assessed throughout your degree?
If you can find a university that offers an economics degree course that appeals to you, perhaps due to economics lessons that focus on the post-war economy, or its emphasis on international economics, then you’ll know you’ll be motivated and engaged by the degree’s content, thereby increasing your chances of finishing university with a great grade.
Although the best universities in the U.K. can be very competitive to get into, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and secure your spot. If you have or could reach, the grades required to get into a university, then it’s worth a shot.
Equally, if you find yourself needing some extra help to secure the A-level results that you need for a place at university, you can always reach out to a tutor for some help with exam tips and tricks or study techniques. Superprof has a range of economics tutors that can provide assistance, either online, in groups, or in person, at a price that won’t break the bank.
Simply enter in your postcode and you'll be matched with suitable tutors in your local area, as well as tutors that are able to conduct sessions online.
Affordable tutoring means that you can afford to invest in your education when it counts the most. Having tutoring before you begin university as well means that you can prepare yourself for the modules that you'll be studying during your first year.
Not only should this help you feel more prepared for your time at university, but it may also help you relax, as having confidence in your academic abilities should mean you can kick back and enjoy the first few weeks of university without any added stress!
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