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    As I would wish to do a masters programme in economics in Great Britain, I learned that I need to do a graduate diploma first. On this note, I would like to ask you for some help with choosing the universites I should apply to. So what I'm loooking for is a course that would prepare me (and serve as a good reference) for a decent MSc/MPhil, after which I will probably want to proceed to a PhD.

    As far as my academic profile is concerned, I finished my undergraduate studies in political science at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (average grade: 8.82 out of 10, was in top 5% of my class at least in my junior and senior years, received the faculty award for best diploma thesis), where I am also doing my masters in political theory (my grade halfway through the course: 10 out of 10). Along with my studies, I am currently also a project coordinator at a research institute in the field of social and political studies. All in all, I obviously did not do much quantitative courses (just basic stats and a course on foundations of micro and macroeconomics), so I am probably not eligible for postgraduate courses in economics at the top universities (Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL).

    Considering the fact that I do have an economics bacground, my research interests are still quite undeveloped, although I am pretty sure I want to study other things along with straight economics, such as political economy and history (history of economic thought/economic history). I know this is relatively irrelevant at the level of a graduate diploma, I am just trying to say that I would prefer to not be stuck with only mathematicians and econometricians for a whole year of my life. But on the other hand, I guess an economics department such as that at SOAS would severely limit the list of universities I could choose from for my masters degree.
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    There are quite a few places you could go to however the more technically-oriented places (eg LSE, Warwick, Cambridge, Bristol) will probably not be suitable for the diploma, they tend to prefer people who come in from quantitative undergraduate degrees, maths, physics, engineering etc, rather than social sciences. Check with them rather than taking it from me but I don't think they would take you despite the fact your academic background looks good.

    Places to look for regarding the diploma would be: Queen Mary/Royal Holloway/SOAS (if you want to be in London); Essex, Sussex or Loughborough (if you don't). There may be some more places which offer it. I would say your background is quite typical of diploma students at these universities, they have a lot of strong students from overseas who are converts from social sciences or humanities. These institutions have two benefits for you as well - 1) the diploma will be less expensive (places like Warwick, LSE etc tend to charge very high rates for a diploma) 2) you mention you would prefer not to be stuck with mathematicians and econometricians for a year of your life - at the technical-oriented institutions you would be, at the ones I mentioned above you would be with people of similar backgrounds to yourself and people who have worked in policy, development, law etc and are looking to convert.

    Now the next part of your question, would a diploma from these institutions 'severely limit' the list of universities you could choose from for your masters degree. No, but there may be a handful of universities which are off limits, ie Oxbridge, LSE and maybe Warwick and UCL. The problem here will be the same one as with the diploma. They don't want social science converts at the diploma year because they want people with more of a mathematical background to cope with their more mathematical diploma, but then for their MSc they want people who have had the mathematical background that they would give on their diploma or on their undergraduate programmes. Their MScs are, in following with the more recent trend in mathematical economics, highly technical, and designed to prepare people for highly technical research degrees.

    The situation you are in at the moment is you have got a good academic background but are 'behind the game' at this stage with maths. So you will need to do a fair bit of self-teaching to catch up. As a guide, look at the maths which UCL recommend their students work through over the summer to prepare for their MSc s:
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/economics/degre...-list/econg100

    Now if you self teach the material there and are confident with it, that should be a guide that you can cope with a programme like UCL or LSE etc at Masters level, so if your marks otherwise on the diploma are high, then it may be worth contacting admissions tutors at those institutions and explaining that you have self taught the extra maths, and are confident you can cope with it etc, they may give you a shot, at the end of the day their fees are high so if they accept you, then you are bearing the risk not them. They wouldn't do it if you had a poor academic background otherwise but I think a high achieving student claiming to have done extra self preparation will be more convincing.

    BUT - a factor to bear in mind here is whether those technical institutions are the most suitable for what you want to do at Masters level anyway. Generally if you ask for advice on the internet, as to where to go for MSc in Economics, the standard advice will be that those technical, maths-oriented places are top-tier, and the ones like SOAS, RHUL, Essex, Sussex etc are mid-tier. Remember most people going to those places are looking at a Masters in Economics as a way in to the City and the banking sector, which wants the quantitative background so they target those institutions. The 'mid-tier' places mentioned above are more policy-oriented, in government or ngo type roles you get a lot of the grads of those institutions, SOAS, Sussex have a lot in development or international type organisations, World Bank etc. Essex is a very good place for preparing for academic research.

    If you are ultimately wanting preparation for a research degree then remember that the recent trend in economics has been for very mathematical-based research and so the 'top' institutions reflect this. If your interests are more along the lines of political economy, economic history etc then you may find some of the other institutions more suited. In the UK most economic departments are strong, in the last Research Assessment Exercise, economics was the subject which UK universities had the highest proportion of internationally recognised research, so I would not say it is a failure if you are not doing a PhD at LSE or UCL.
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    Thanks a lot, that was exactly the kind of a reply I was looking for. And I already had one of the universities you've named in mind: Essex. They seem to offer the best quantitative preparation of all the "Tier 2" departments, and are also the highest ranked one.

    What about Nottingham?
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    (Original post by Fenix1987)
    Thanks a lot, that was exactly the kind of a reply I was looking for. And I already had one of the universities you've named in mind: Essex. They seem to offer the best quantitative preparation of all the "Tier 2" departments, and are also the highest ranked one.

    What about Nottingham?
    Yes Nottingham has a good reputation as well, however in your situation with you considering research afterwards, I think you have to look carefully at what research is undertaken in each department as well as 'how good' the research was ranked as sometimes the rankings can reflect what themes of research are 'in' with the assessors at any one time.

    The other thing to bear in mind when choosing a Masters is that a UK MSc is done in one year which basically means two semesters of about 11/12 weeks each, and then you do your dissertation. There is only a limited amount of curriculum that can be taught in that time, so it's important to get the balance right for the type of research you want to do. The more quantitative Masters have to compromise on some of the policy oriented material - the onus will be on the students progressing from those to PhD, to do more outside reading of literature on different topics to get suitable ideas for research. The more policy oriented Masters have to compromise on some of the advanced mathematical techniques (the quantitative elements are more likely to be econometrics) so the onus will be on students progressing from those to PhD to do more self-teaching of maths when they are doing their PhD. It is possible to self teach to an extent if you are bright, I know a couple of blokes from South America who did PhDs in the UK with not massive amounts of mathematical background and they had to learn a lot of maths in their three years, which they would probably have already been taught had they say done an MSc at LSE or UCL. On the flip side they had a lot of country specific policy knowledge related to their PhD topics that they wouldn't have had if they'd gone to LSE or UCL.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    Places to look for regarding the diploma would be: Queen Mary/Royal Holloway/SOAS (if you want to be in London); Essex, Sussex or Loughborough (if you don't). There may be some more places which offer it. I would say your background is quite typical of diploma students at these universities, they have a lot of strong students from overseas who are converts from social sciences or humanities. These institutions have two benefits for you as well - 1) the diploma will be less expensive (places like Warwick, LSE etc tend to charge very high rates for a diploma) 2) you mention you would prefer not to be stuck with mathematicians and econometricians for a year of your life - at the technical-oriented institutions you would be, at the ones I mentioned above you would be with people of similar backgrounds to yourself and people who have worked in policy, development, law etc and are looking to convert.
    Your post is a very good one. I'd just to like to add from my own experiences that with regards to the Masters at Loughborough, the majority are Asian students. They seem more able mathematically (whether their maths education is better or whether they're more naturally gifted, I'm not sure) so they can cope quite easily with the maths. Some of them are poor however, so they probably are social science graduated from China.

    As for the diploma, my friend did one at Loughborough in Economics (he was a social science graduate I think from a different university) and he got offers for every masters course he applied for, including Loughborough, Nottingham and Edinburgh. He ended up going to Durham, but he didn't like it because of the large emphasis on journal articles. Although his maths background wasn't strong, he enjoyed learning new mathematical techniques in the Loughborough PG Diploma and is thinking of dropping out to go back to Loughborough for the MSc so he can be tested in a more mathematical way. Remember OP, the top courses will require a fairly rigorous mathematical teaching as any PhD thesis would require it. Don't be put off my the maths, and avoiding maths a a PG Diploma level might backfire on you when applying to the 'top' places for your MSc/MA.
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    (Original post by little_wizard123)
    Your post is a very good one. I'd just to like to add from my own experiences that with regards to the Masters at Loughborough, the majority are Asian students. They seem more able mathematically (whether their maths education is better or whether they're more naturally gifted, I'm not sure) so they can cope quite easily with the maths. Some of them are poor however, so they probably are social science graduated from China.

    As for the diploma, my friend did one at Loughborough in Economics (he was a social science graduate I think from a different university) and he got offers for every masters course he applied for, including Loughborough, Nottingham and Edinburgh. He ended up going to Durham, but he didn't like it because of the large emphasis on journal articles. Although his maths background wasn't strong, he enjoyed learning new mathematical techniques in the Loughborough PG Diploma and is thinking of dropping out to go back to Loughborough for the MSc so he can be tested in a more mathematical way. Remember OP, the top courses will require a fairly rigorous mathematical teaching as any PhD thesis would require it. Don't be put off my the maths, and avoiding maths a a PG Diploma level might backfire on you when applying to the 'top' places for your MSc/MA.
    The issue is less likely to be one of the OP wanting to avoid advanced maths in a PG Diploma, but the places running the more mathematical diplomas would probably reject him as they already have in their entry requirements that you need to come from a quantitative subject. It is a chicken and egg situation and a difficult one to break out of. If he really wanted to do a mathematical based economics Masters such as UCL or Warwick, then he would need to do a diploma at whatever place would accept him and then do a lot of self teaching mathematics above that, and try and convince admissions tutors at those Masters programmes that he has got himself up to speed....overall though he needs to be careful that these mathematical ones are the direction he wants to go down. I always advise people to be wary of advice in regards to Economics postgrad study on the internet as the talk on the internet tends to be very 'exclusive' in nature, and dominated by people who want to break into the banking sector.

    Regarding your friend at Durham, they don't run pure Economics courses at Masters level so it is likely his masters was in Finance instead, which would not have been a good idea if what he really wanted to do was Economics.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    The issue is less likely to be one of the OP wanting to avoid advanced maths in a PG Diploma, but the places running the more mathematical diplomas would probably reject him as they already have in their entry requirements that you need to come from a quantitative subject. It is a chicken and egg situation and a difficult one to break out of. If he really wanted to do a mathematical based economics Masters such as UCL or Warwick, then he would need to do a diploma at whatever place would accept him and then do a lot of self teaching mathematics above that, and try and convince admissions tutors at those Masters programmes that he has got himself up to speed....overall though he needs to be careful that these mathematical ones are the direction he wants to go down. I always advise people to be wary of advice in regards to Economics postgrad study on the internet as the talk on the internet tends to be very 'exclusive' in nature, and dominated by people who want to break into the banking sector.

    Regarding your friend at Durham, they don't run pure Economics courses at Masters level so it is likely his masters was in Finance instead, which would not have been a good idea if what he really wanted to do was Economics.
    I'm not sure of the exact degree, but it was finance related. So although he didn't do a lot of maths (if any) at undergrad level, he came to enjoy it in his diploma.

    It's just the OP doesn't really require much mathematical knowledge in the area that he/she is interested in. It just seems that a top university might require a higher quantitative standard of education.

    In my opinion (which doesn't mean a lot) but if the OP could get onto a PG Diploma that had a high quantitative nature, then there shouldn't be too much of a problem with applying for a PhD, as when you apply you'd have to submit a proposal. If this was good enough then there shouldn't be a problem.

    So I'd suggest applying to as many places as you can. If you can't get onto a top MSc, this shouldn't be a problem as things like your proposal will be the main part in a PhD application.
 
 
 
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