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Faculty of Economics




What can you expect to study during the Economics course?


The Economics Tripos is a three-year undergraduate degree programme in Economics and consists of three parts, known as Part I, Part IIA and Part IIB. The examinations for each part take place at the end of the first, second and third year, respectively, and are classed Tripos examinations (the classes being First, Upper Second (2.1), Lower Second (2.2) and Third).

In addition to the classification for each Part of the Tripos (which is based on the average mark obtained for the papers), the University has introduced an overall cumulative degree classification. The overall degree classification (which is also based on the average mark for the papers) uses the following weighting scheme:


Year 1: 0%

(5 compulsory papers)

Year 2: 30%

(3 compulsory papers and one optional paper)

Year 3: 70%

(2 compulsory papers, two optional papers and a dissertation)


Candidates for Part I of the Tripos are required to study for, and be examined in, five 'papers' (the terminology used for a course), all of which are compulsory. These comprise papers in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative Methods (Mathematics and Statistics), Political and Social Aspects of Economics, and British Economic History.

Candidates for Part IIA normally study for, and are examined in, four papers. Three of the papers - Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Theory and Practice of Econometrics I - are compulsory. The fourth paper is chosen from a list of optional papers, usually including International Trade & Economic Development; Labour; Mathematics & Statistics; History & Philosophy of Economics; The Modern State & its Alternatives; Modern Societies; or International Conflicts, Order & Justice (the latter three provided by the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences). Students may, if they wish, choose two optional papers, although few take advantage of this opportunity.

Course Description

Candidates for Part IIB of the Economics Tripos normally take:

  • two compulsory papers - Microeconomic Principles and Problems, and Macroeconomic Principles and Problems;
  • two optional papers, which are chosen from a list of papers that usually includes: Economic Theory and Analysis; Political Economics; Banking and Finance; Public Economics; The Economics of Developing Countries; Industry; Theory and Practice of Econometrics II; The History & Philosophy of Economics; or one paper out of two options offered by the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences. These are British & European Politics; Global Capitalism.
  • a compulsory dissertation, which counts as a single paper. The dissertation is on a topic in Economics chosen by the candidate (subject to approval by the Faculty).

Again, students have the opportunity to take an additional optional paper.

More information about the contents of the papers in Part I, Part IIA and Part IIB is available in the paper outlines. Also useful is the University’s undergraduate prospectus for Economics.

The Tripos system in Cambridge

The Tripos system in Cambridge allows students to combine Economics with another subject, but only by switching Tripos. For instance, it is possible to switch from Part IA Mathematics to Part IIA Economics; from Part I or Part IIA Economics to Human, Social and Political Sciences; or from Part IIA or Part IIB Economics to Management Studies. In all cases, this is subject to approval by your College.

Students who would like to switch Tripos or take an additional optional paper in Part IIA or Part IIB should consult their Director of Studies regarding the precise University regulations for the Economics Tripos.

Graduates from another university who are considering becoming an affiliated student (to come to Cambridge to take a second undergraduate degree in two years) should contact a College and note* that it may be more attractive to take the nine-month postgraduate Advanced Diploma in Economics.


*Note to applicants considering status of affiliated student in Economics

The Faculty of Economics offers a nine-month taught Advanced Diploma in Economics. This course enables students with an undergraduate degree that is not in economics or from a non-UK university to embark on further studies in economics and related disciplines such as finance at the graduate level, either at Cambridge or elsewhere. Subject to satisfactory progress, students may stay on for a further year and study towards an MPhil in Economics. In recent years, a significant proportion of students on our Diploma programme have successfully done so and gone onto important positions in industry, consulting and research (by embarking on doctoral studies at Cambridge or elsewhere).