Studying for a PhD in Economics in the UK

Economics is a fascinating and important subject, and the tools and techniques developed by an economist means we can provide unique insights on the behaviour of individuals, households, firms and institutions, and important contributions to decision-making and economic and social policy.

The award of a PhD in Economics means you are able to undertake economic analysis at an advanced level, applying existing techniques or developing new ones, to make informed judgements on complex economic issues and to communicate your ideas effectively to other economists and to non-economists. Although you are supported and advised by your supervisors, your PhD is your own work and the award of a PhD signals that you have initiative and personal responsibility, that you can work autonomously, and you are able to design, pursue and deliver on a project. The combination of creativity, technical expertise, and problem solving and communication skills means there is a very strong demand for people with a doctorate in Economics nationally and internationally.

The UK has a strong reputation in Economics with many of its universities ranked among the world’s best in international league tables and, in terms of its overall contribution, UK Economics research is second only to the United States. The UK has significant strength and influence in a number of important sub-fields and economic research in the UK is very influential outside academia and has a large impact on policy. This is a significant achievement resulting from the high-quality of applied work and the healthy relationships between researchers and policymakers.

Studying for a PhD in Economics in the UK means joining a vibrant, collegiate and energetic community of scholars. However, there are a variety of choices to be made when deciding on whether and where to study for a PhD, many depending on the specific UK context, and this document is intended to provide some context to those choices.  Within the following pages, we answer the question “What is a PhD?”, consider the different routes to PhD, discuss how to choose a university to study at, and comment on some of the advantages of studying for PhD in the UK.