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Faculty of Economics



The Faculty awards about 15 PhD degrees each year to students who have produced high-quality, original, and publishable research over a period of three years. Faculty Members can supervise a broad range of research areas suitable for a PhD thesis. The basic requirement for admission to the PhD programme is that you should have performed well in the Faculty’s MPhil in Economic Research programme, or in an equivalent Master’s programme elsewhere.

Students already studying for the MPhil in Economic Research degree at Cambridge may apply to continue to the PhD, continuation is dependent on achieving a specified standard in the MPhil examinations.

Applications for direct entry to the PhD from candidates with a high-quality Master’s degree in economics from other universities are also welcomed. If your previous training is not considered sufficient for direct entry, you may be considered for admission to the MPhil in Economic Research degree. If your Master’s qualification is not from Cambridge you must submit precise details of your Master’s training with your application, including the topics covered and the main required reading.

When applying for the PhD you must submit a statement of your proposed research with your application. When preparing this statement please consult the research interests of Faculty members and, if possible, indicate possible supervisors for your PhD research.

PhD students are admitted from the beginning of October in the relevant year. It is not possible to start the PhD at other times.

The First Year of Research

If accepted for the PhD degree, you will be registered initially for the Certificate of Postgraduate Study (CPGS) in Economics.

Students registered for the CPGS are required to:

  • Attend the 'How to do Economics' lecture course. Other postgraduate courses in research methods are organised by the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Physical Sciences, and are available to all PhD students.
  • Undertake a minimum of four courses from PhD or MPhil Modules from at least two subject areas. You must achieve a pass mark (60%) on each component of the coursework. Students who fail any examinations will be called for a viva on the coursework.   
  • Write a research proposal (maximum length 10,000 words) that should include a review of the relevant literature, a research question, and outline of a research design and methods. The expectation is that this proposal will be for a piece of research that could form the basis of one chapter of a PhD dissertation. You will be given an oral examination on this piece of work and must perform to a satisfactory standard.
  • Attend:

    (a) one of the three research workshops (on microeconomics, macroeconomics or econometrics) at which research students present both their own work and recent papers  in the literature - assessment of workshops will be arranged by course organisers;

    (b) attend at least one of the Faculty's general seminars in which papers are given both by outside speakers and Faculty members;

To qualify for the CPGS, you must complete all of the requirements above. 

Students will be considered for registration for the PhD in the Michaelmas Term of their 2nd year. To be registered for the PhD, students must have successfully completed the requirements for CPGS (above).

Submit an acceptable piece of research (first year chapter) of not more than 20,000 words. The piece of research submitted must be of a standard that would enable it to form the basis of one-third of your eventual PhD thesis. This means that it must contain research that could be expanded upon to constitute one-third of the PhD thesis.

Second and Third Years of Research

Once upgraded to PhD status, you will concentrate on your PhD dissertation. As research progresses, there will be opportunities to present work in progress at research workshops attended by Faculty members and research students. PhD students will also be required to attend research seminars given by outside speakers and Faculty members.