Difference between E&M at Oxford vs Economics at Cambridge

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Incede
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I'm currently in year 12 studying maths, further maths, economics and physics and I'm really confused as to what course i should apply to. At one point I was firmly decided on Cambridge, then later on Oxford.
I've heard Oxford put more weighting on GCSEs which is good for me. But their acceptance rate is much lower than Cambridge. I feel like i would enjoy management but maths is my strongest subject and I've heard that Cambridge is more mathematical whilst Oxford is more essay based?

Could someone share any advice and outline the differences between the two?

Thanks a lot
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Mona123456
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(Original post by Incede)
I'm currently in year 12 studying maths, further maths, economics and physics and I'm really confused as to what course i should apply to. At one point I was firmly decided on Cambridge, then later on Oxford.
I've heard Oxford put more weighting on GCSEs which is good for me. But their acceptance rate is much lower than Cambridge. I feel like i would enjoy management but maths is my strongest subject and I've heard that Cambridge is more mathematical whilst Oxford is more essay based?

Could someone share any advice and outline the differences between the two?

Thanks a lot
Hi there!

So some key differences:

The Cambridge course is much more mathematical, and essentially by the final year is an applied statistics degree. The emphasis on maths is heavy, although in the first year you also would take some more history/politics orientated papers.

You would also have to do a compulsory dissertation.

Oxford E&M on the other hand, is more of a balance between essays and maths. There’s no compulsory dissertation, and in the first year are no history/politics orientated modules - instead the modules are economics, general management and financial management. You’d learn not just about economics but also about business and how they work, management styles and theories, finance and the like.

The courses are quite different so I would recommend doing sufficient further reading - if management floats your boat, E&M could be for you, but if you’re a fan of econometrics and statistical analysis, Cambridge could be the one.

Don’t let admissions rates put you off - both courses are really competitive and so your chances will be maximised when you apply for the course that your heart is set on and that you have a genuine interest in. Oxford and Cambridge also have slightly different assessment styles and different vibes in terms of location, so maybe do more research into the places themselves too.

Both would of course open lots of doors and be academically rigorous degrees, so on that front there is very little difference.

Good luck with your decision! You may also be able to tell that I am slightly biased towards E&M, as I am an offer holder, so let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll try and help.
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Incede
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(Original post by Mona123456)
Hi there!

So some key differences:

The Cambridge course is much more mathematical, and essentially by the final year is an applied statistics degree. The emphasis on maths is heavy, although in the first year you also would take some more history/politics orientated papers.

You would also have to do a compulsory dissertation.

Oxford E&M on the other hand, is more of a balance between essays and maths. There’s no compulsory dissertation, and in the first year are no history/politics orientated modules - instead the modules are economics, general management and financial management. You’d learn not just about economics but also about business and how they work, management styles and theories, finance and the like.

The courses are quite different so I would recommend doing sufficient further reading - if management floats your boat, E&M could be for you, but if you’re a fan of econometrics and statistical analysis, Cambridge could be the one.

Don’t let admissions rates put you off - both courses are really competitive and so your chances will be maximised when you apply for the course that your heart is set on and that you have a genuine interest in. Oxford and Cambridge also have slightly different assessment styles and different vibes in terms of location, so maybe do more research into the places themselves too.

Both would of course open lots of doors and be academically rigorous degrees, so on that front there is very little difference.

Good luck with your decision! You may also be able to tell that I am slightly biased towards E&M, as I am an offer holder, so let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll try and help.
Hi Mona, I really appreciate your reply.
Well done on getting an offer! Considering you are an E&M offer holder, I acually have quite a few questions - sorry!

1) How much importance do Oxford place on your mathematical ability - do they want someone very good at maths or a well rounded indivdual who's ability to write and commincate are strong?
2) Were your interview/s more maths or economics based?
3) How did you prepare for the TSA + roughly what score would you need to secure an interview?
4) What are your predicted grades in your subjects?
5) Do you think strong GCSEs (ten 9s) would strengthen an application at Oxford more than Cambridge?
6) Finally, what do you think made you stand out to be given an offer?

Once again thank you for taking the time to answer any of these questions. Also i hope everything goes well for you and you're able to sit your exams/take up your place.
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artful_lounger
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Well the most obvious difference is in E&M you will be studying both economics and business/management while in the Cambridge course you'll just be studying economics (and economic history, which I believe you have to study a paper in during first year at Cambridge). Contrary to popular belief E&M at Oxford is not "just" single honours economics with a different name, and you will study roughly half your subjects in both economics and management. You will take 3 management papers in first year and at least 3 in the latter two years, out of 12 papers taken in total.

You will study as much economics (potentially) in any of the economics joint schools as in E&M; PPEists and History & Economics students all take the same first year paper, and (usually) the same core finals papers, and choose from the same range of options. History & Economics students at Oxford in theory take the most economics papers potentially as they take an economic history paper in addition to up to 5 other economics papers.

The Cambridge course is generally considered to be more mathematical than economics at Oxford, and also generally frequently is considered one of the more mathematical courses in the country. I'm not completely convinced by the latter point, since looking through their course content on the department webpages the maths involved doesn't seem very out of the ordinary for any economics course. LSE and Warwick seem to be more mathematical courses than Cambridge, since both have the option to take some real analysis/abstract linear algebra even in just the single honours course, and their econometrics modules seem to potentially make use of this (at least for LSE).
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Levi.-
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(Original post by Incede)
Hi Mona, I really appreciate your reply.
Well done on getting an offer! Considering you are an E&M offer holder, I acually have quite a few questions - sorry!

1) How much importance do Oxford place on your mathematical ability - do they want someone very good at maths or a well rounded indivdual who's ability to write and commincate are strong?
2) Were your interview/s more maths or economics based?
3) How did you prepare for the TSA + roughly what score would you need to secure an interview?
4) What are your predicted grades in your subjects?
5) Do you think strong GCSEs (ten 9s) would strengthen an application at Oxford more than Cambridge?
6) Finally, what do you think made you stand out to be given an offer?

Once again thank you for taking the time to answer any of these questions. Also i hope everything goes well for you and you're able to sit your exams/take up your place.
Strong GCSEs (though for E&M ten 9s (A*s) is probably somewhat the upper quartile for people getting accepted if the PPE statistics are anything to go off of and they use the same shortlisting procedures for both courses) will help alot more for Oxford since they actually use them as a key shortlisting factor - they also use contextual GCSE scores so you will need to compare how you performed to your school. https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/images/PPE_...ants_FINAL.pdf look at these for PPE statistics; they use the same methods for econ and management but the overall scores may be a bit higher than on there.
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Incede
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(Original post by Levi.-)
Strong GCSEs (though for E&M ten 9s (A*s) is probably somewhat the upper quartile for people getting accepted if the PPE statistics are anything to go off of and they use the same shortlisting procedures for both courses) will help alot more for Oxford since they actually use them as a key shortlisting factor - they also use contextual GCSE scores so you will need to compare how you performed to your school. https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/images/PPE_...ants_FINAL.pdf look at these for PPE statistics; they use the same methods for econ and management but the overall scores may be a bit higher than on there.
Thanks for posting the link, it's really helpful. Unfortunately i go to a school where all 8s/9s is standard.
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Incede
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Well the most obvious difference is in E&M you will be studying both economics and business/management while in the Cambridge course you'll just be studying economics (and economic history, which I believe you have to study a paper in during first year at Cambridge). Contrary to popular belief E&M at Oxford is not "just" single honours economics with a different name, and you will study roughly half your subjects in both economics and management. You will take 3 management papers in first year and at least 3 in the latter two years, out of 12 papers taken in total.

You will study as much economics (potentially) in any of the economics joint schools as in E&M; PPEists and History & Economics students all take the same first year paper, and (usually) the same core finals papers, and choose from the same range of options. History & Economics students at Oxford in theory take the most economics papers potentially as they take an economic history paper in addition to up to 5 other economics papers.

The Cambridge course is generally considered to be more mathematical than economics at Oxford, and also generally frequently is considered one of the more mathematical courses in the country. I'm not completely convinced by the latter point, since looking through their course content on the department webpages the maths involved doesn't seem very out of the ordinary for any economics course. LSE and Warwick seem to be more mathematical courses than Cambridge, since both have the option to take some real analysis/abstract linear algebra even in just the single honours course, and their econometrics modules seem to potentially make use of this (at least for LSE).
Thanks for this.
I guess it's just will I enjoy management or more maths then.
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Mona123456
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(Original post by Incede)
Hi Mona, I really appreciate your reply.
Well done on getting an offer! Considering you are an E&M offer holder, I acually have quite a few questions - sorry!

1) How much importance do Oxford place on your mathematical ability - do they want someone very good at maths or a well rounded indivdual who's ability to write and commincate are strong?
2) Were your interview/s more maths or economics based?
3) How did you prepare for the TSA + roughly what score would you need to secure an interview?
4) What are your predicted grades in your subjects?
5) Do you think strong GCSEs (ten 9s) would strengthen an application at Oxford more than Cambridge?
6) Finally, what do you think made you stand out to be given an offer?

Once again thank you for taking the time to answer any of these questions. Also i hope everything goes well for you and you're able to sit your exams/take up your place.
Hi - I’ll try and answer your questions, although of course please bear in mind that I am just going off my experiences and understanding, and so may well not be fully correct - I am not an admissions tutor!!

1. For all top Unis (Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL etc) they want strong mathematicians. I guess that E&M is slightly less mathematical than straight Economics at Cambridge/LSE/Warwick, but the reality is that you should still have really strong maths skills - you should be predicted at least an A* in Maths and ideally an A in Further Maths, to be competitive. But, for E&M a balance of skills is also important - you should be a confident essayist as well as a good mathematician - you do need a broad skill set!

2. Both. All my interviews had some maths in, but also some economics/business questions. One interview was almost entirely maths with a few economics questions thrown in, one was almost entirely personal statement based with a single maths question thrown in, and then one was half and half maths and business/management.

3. I’ll copy and paste more advice in another post as I’ve given lots of advice on this before, but it’s really all about practice and learning shortcuts and helpful tips to speed up and finish the paper in time.

4. I’m predicted 4A*s.

5. It depends. Oxford explicitly place more emphasis on GCSEs so you could argue that having weaker grades would hinder an Oxford application slightly more than a Cambridge application. But, both E&M at Oxford and Economics at Cambridge are so competitive that you need strong GCSEs for both. In honesty, by interviews everyone will have good enough GCSEs and be academically able and roughly on the same playing field.

6. I have no clue to be honest. I’d done quite a few impressive supercurriculars that highlighted that I was both a talented mathematician and gifted essayist. I think the main thing was that I cared about Oxford’s course and what I could bring to the Uni, and I had a clear fascination with management in both my personal statement and interviews, as well as economics.

Hope this helps, and I’ll add my TSA advice in another post shortly!
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Mona123456
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Well the most obvious difference is in E&M you will be studying both economics and business/management while in the Cambridge course you'll just be studying economics (and economic history, which I believe you have to study a paper in during first year at Cambridge). Contrary to popular belief E&M at Oxford is not "just" single honours economics with a different name, and you will study roughly half your subjects in both economics and management. You will take 3 management papers in first year and at least 3 in the latter two years, out of 12 papers taken in total.

You will study as much economics (potentially) in any of the economics joint schools as in E&M; PPEists and History & Economics students all take the same first year paper, and (usually) the same core finals papers, and choose from the same range of options. History & Economics students at Oxford in theory take the most economics papers potentially as they take an economic history paper in addition to up to 5 other economics papers.

The Cambridge course is generally considered to be more mathematical than economics at Oxford, and also generally frequently is considered one of the more mathematical courses in the country. I'm not completely convinced by the latter point, since looking through their course content on the department webpages the maths involved doesn't seem very out of the ordinary for any economics course. LSE and Warwick seem to be more mathematical courses than Cambridge, since both have the option to take some real analysis/abstract linear algebra even in just the single honours course, and their econometrics modules seem to potentially make use of this (at least for LSE).
Just wanted to quickly add to this - although H&E students can take a lot of economics papers, E&M students can too - they actually changed the structure such that you can take 2 management papers and 6 economics papers in second and third year if you wish - you only take 8 papers, not 12. So, E&M can still be heavily tilted towards straight economics; however, I completely agree that it’s important to have an interest in management, as it is still a very important part of the course!

Also, just so OP is aware, if you apply for H&E they can ask you whether you’d accept an offer for straight history too, so bear that in mind.
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Mona123456
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(Original post by Mona123456)
Hi - I’ll try and answer your questions, although of course please bear in mind that I am just going off my experiences and understanding, and so may well not be fully correct - I am not an admissions tutor!!

1. For all top Unis (Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL etc) they want strong mathematicians. I guess that E&M is slightly less mathematical than straight Economics at Cambridge/LSE/Warwick, but the reality is that you should still have really strong maths skills - you should be predicted at least an A* in Maths and ideally an A in Further Maths, to be competitive. But, for E&M a balance of skills is also important - you should be a confident essayist as well as a good mathematician - you do need a broad skill set!

2. Both. All my interviews had some maths in, but also some economics/business questions. One interview was almost entirely maths with a few economics questions thrown in, one was almost entirely personal statement based with a single maths question thrown in, and then one was half and half maths and business/management.

3. I’ll copy and paste more advice in another post as I’ve given lots of advice on this before, but it’s really all about practice and learning shortcuts and helpful tips to speed up and finish the paper in time.

4. I’m predicted 4A*s.

5. It depends. Oxford explicitly place more emphasis on GCSEs so you could argue that having weaker grades would hinder an Oxford application slightly more than a Cambridge application. But, both E&M at Oxford and Economics at Cambridge are so competitive that you need strong GCSEs for both. In honesty, by interviews everyone will have good enough GCSEs and be academically able and roughly on the same playing field.

6. I have no clue to be honest. I’d done quite a few impressive supercurriculars that highlighted that I was both a talented mathematician and gifted essayist. I think the main thing was that I cared about Oxford’s course and what I could bring to the Uni, and I had a clear fascination with management in both my personal statement and interviews, as well as economics.

Hope this helps, and I’ll add my TSA advice in another post shortly!

My response about the TSA:

The TSA is incredibly important as E&M is so competitive, so I started preparation earlier rather than later. I began light prep in October 2018 and sat the TSA in October 2019. However, for about 6-9 months I just did *very* light prep - I bought two books (one I think was from the Oxbridge Admissions company - not linked to Oxford though - it was called something like ‘The Ultimate TSA Guide’ with 300 practice questions, and the other was ‘So You Think You Can Think’) and met roughly once every one or two weeks to go through a few critical thinking questions from these books with a teacher and do some practice TSA essays (as the only essay subject I take is economics). For a good month or two, these meetings were literally my teacher and I trying to understand what critical thinking was and what the question types were!

Then, from roughly February onwards, I did past papers (usually like half a paper per week) and went through questions I got wrong with a teacher. I did a mix of TSA papers and a few BMAT section 1 papers (but would skip the science/long data questions). I wouldn’t time these, or if I did it was just to see if I was getting quicker - I wasn’t strict with it and usually ran over time.

From Summer onwards, I then did full timed papers (to begin with around one every other week, but eventually one a week by September). Once I got back to school, I met once a week with a teacher to go through critical thinking questions that I got wrong (and the essays), and once a week with a different teacher to go through problem solving questions that I got wrong.

The week before, I also made notes (a bit like essay plans?) on key topics that I thought might come up (none of them did, but it was interesting learning about them anyway and still worth doing). Additionally, I repeated one past paper to compare my score and see my progression (just for a bit of a confidence boost really!). For the whole year I also kept up with current affairs, but that goes without saying really - definitely make sure you do!

It sounds like a lot haha but my school is very small and doesn’t often send people to Oxbridge, so I was pretty proactive in preparing early and politely asking my teachers for meetings to help me and go through things. It was also on-and-off prep as I took gaps and sometimes I was away, sometimes the teacher was away etc so don’t feel you need to literally do something every single week - I definitely didn’t! You do need to put time in to get used to the question styles and timings though (in the real thing I unfortunately ran out of time slightly and guessed about 3 questions, but to begin with I would run out of time without answering 10 or so questions, so practice helps!).

Good luck! It is quite enjoyable as the questions themselves are really interesting, but it’s just the timing that makes the whole thing stressful! Still, it is worth taking it seriously and trying your best, as it is a crucial factor in getting an interview.

My response about TSA section 2

Regarding section 2 - there were some really helpful videos on YouTube from Jesus College where a tutor talks through how to best approach the essay - the link to their channel is here:

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCnNVl...Md8AdLA/videos


Really, it’s just about doing all the past papers and going through your essays with a teacher who’s critical and can give you honest feedback. I kept up with current affairs but also did a lot of wider reading and tried to make my essay as academic as possible by mentioning economists, theories, coherent chains of analysis etc. My structure in the final thing was (as far as I remember lol):

Intro outlining argument
Point 1 supporting my argument
Point 2 supporting my argument
Point 3 counter argument from another perspective, but why my opinion is right
Conclusion summarising argument

I’d definitely recommend trying to do some further reading, such as looking at The Economist, Financial Times or Economic Review. They aren’t testing your knowledge in the essay, it’s more about your ability to form and defend a convincing argument, but having relevant knowledge to drop in and link to current affairs can boost it in my opinion.


Links you might find helpful:

Link to helpful guide for the BMAT (BMAT Section 1 is similar to the TSA section 1 apart from the data/science questions):

https://www.admissionstesting.org/im...tion-guide.pdf

Detailed info on the E&M admissions process and criteria tutors use:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/att...4&d=1578499308

E&M reading list:

https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...g_list_pdf.pdf

And also:

https://www.balliol.ox.ac.uk/admissi...t-reading-list

Admissions feedback:

https://www.merton.ox.ac.uk/undergra...sions-feedback
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Mona123456)
Just wanted to quickly add to this - although H&E students can take a lot of economics papers, E&M students can too - they actually changed the structure such that you can take 2 management papers and 6 economics papers in second and third year if you wish - you only take 8 papers, not 12. So, E&M can still be heavily tilted towards straight economics; however, I completely agree that it’s important to have an interest in management, as it is still a very important part of the course!

Also, just so OP is aware, if you apply for H&E they can ask you whether you’d accept an offer for straight history too, so bear that in mind.
The 12 papers reference was for the entire course - 4 papers for the FPE and 8 for the FHS. I realised I miscounted and there are only 3 papers in the FPE for E&M though, anyway. I didn't know they had changed it to allow only 2 management papers to be taken in the FHS though! OP would still be spending 2/3rds of the FPE and 1/4 of the FHS on management under the current regulations though so I agree some interest in the other subject for any economics joint school at Oxford would be important!
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(Original post by Mona123456)
Hi - I’ll try and answer your questions, although of course please bear in mind that I am just going off my experiences and understanding, and so may well not be fully correct - I am not an admissions tutor!!

1. For all top Unis (Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL etc) they want strong mathematicians. I guess that E&M is slightly less mathematical than straight Economics at Cambridge/LSE/Warwick, but the reality is that you should still have really strong maths skills - you should be predicted at least an A* in Maths and ideally an A in Further Maths, to be competitive. But, for E&M a balance of skills is also important - you should be a confident essayist as well as a good mathematician - you do need a broad skill set!

2. Both. All my interviews had some maths in, but also some economics/business questions. One interview was almost entirely maths with a few economics questions thrown in, one was almost entirely personal statement based with a single maths question thrown in, and then one was half and half maths and business/management.

3. I’ll copy and paste more advice in another post as I’ve given lots of advice on this before, but it’s really all about practice and learning shortcuts and helpful tips to speed up and finish the paper in time.

4. I’m predicted 4A*s.

5. It depends. Oxford explicitly place more emphasis on GCSEs so you could argue that having weaker grades would hinder an Oxford application slightly more than a Cambridge application. But, both E&M at Oxford and Economics at Cambridge are so competitive that you need strong GCSEs for both. In honesty, by interviews everyone will have good enough GCSEs and be academically able and roughly on the same playing field.

6. I have no clue to be honest. I’d done quite a few impressive supercurriculars that highlighted that I was both a talented mathematician and gifted essayist. I think the main thing was that I cared about Oxford’s course and what I could bring to the Uni, and I had a clear fascination with management in both my personal statement and interviews, as well as economics.

Hope this helps, and I’ll add my TSA advice in another post shortly!
Thank you for your detailed reply, your advice is really helpful. I'm going to (hopefully) visit Cambidge and then make an informed decision between the two courses.
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