Oxford Demystified - Economics and Management

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Mona123456
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Why did you want to study your particular subject at Oxford?

The main thing that attracted me to E&M was the versatility of the degree. You need to be both a strong essayist and a talented mathematician; the breadth of skills required made me feel like I could have the best of both worlds, as I would always be challenged and would be able to switch between writing and maths. In my eyes, economics is the study of people, the choices they make, why they make those choices, and how decision making can be improved. So, by not just being mathematically rigorous, but by also having the management component to look at things through another lens, Oxford’s degree seemed like the ideal combination.


Why Oxford?

For me, Oxford was the only top University that offered absolutely everything I wanted; the academic atmosphere, the facilities, the location, the accommodation, the collegiate system, the culture and history… some other Universities had similar degrees to E&M, but not these extra features nor the intellectual rigour that makes Oxford so special. I didn’t dream about Oxbridge as a child, and I wasn’t always set on going, but when the course seemed right and I visited on an Open Day, it just felt like somewhere I would fit in and be happy at.


Did any of your teachers inspire you?

Yes. I had a fantastic economics teacher who was always happy to answer my abstract questions, recommend further reading and encourage my interests. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had their support during the process, and know that if they weren’t so enthusiastic about economics, I wouldn’t have been either!


What resources did you use? Which books did you read?

I had a free account with The Economist so I could read 5 articles per month, as well as a free account with the Financial Times. My advice regarding reading is by all means check out the official E&M reading list on Oxford’s website, but also if you can, go into your local bookstore (or onto their website) and spend some time reading through the blurbs of books in the economics and business sections. I would do this for 30-60 minutes and then eventually settle on a couple of books I wanted to buy. This is a great way to discover your own interests and make your personal statement unique; after all, they want to genuinely know about what you’ve enjoyed reading and which areas of economics/management fascinate you personally. They don’t want you to just plunder and regurgitate their reading lists – I’d advise that you should use them only as a starting point.


How did you enrich your application (e.g. essay competitions, lectures, museums, documentaries watched etc)

I went to a free public lecture and then entered a handful of essay competitions, in addition to a fair bit of further reading and a little bit of work experience.


How do you find out about the work experience? How do you apply for such placements? How did this help you with your application?

I found out about the work experience through my school who were emailed about it and encouraged to tell students who may be interested. There are other websites I used though:

http://www.accessaccountancy.org/cur...rtunities.html

In addition, lots of commercial and investment banks have various work experience and internship opportunities on throughout the year, so if you have a specific one in mind, it's worth checking their websites or going into your local bank branch to ask in person (for example HSBC and Barclays offer work experience opportunities).

In terms of how I applied, I only had to write a CV and a cover letter, in which I wrote about what I would gain from the experience and why the specific bank's qualities, ethos and atmosphere would suit me. However, some work experience may additionally require online tests and/or a phone interview, so check well in advance as you often need to apply early (I would guess applications open around 4-6 months before the dates of the work experience) and some recruit on a rolling basis. Make a list of things you want to apply for and the dates applications open, so you have everything organised and know what to prepare for.

Regarding how it helped my application, it was a useful way to demonstrate my soft skills that I used during the work experience, and because one module is Financial Management in the first year, banking/finance work experience can directly relate to Oxford's degree. It is important, however, to understand economics and management are academic subjects and not the same thing as finance and banking, even if there are many similarities.


Where did you find out about the competition? Did you have to do much research? Did you enjoy
doing it? How did it help your application? Was it worth your while?


I found out about essay competitions through searching online. Some ones worth considering are:

Bank of England and Financial Times School Blog Competition
The Adam Smith Institute Young Writer on Liberty Competition
The Minds Underground Sustainability & Economics Essay Competition
The Royal Economic Society’s Young Economist of the Year Essay Competition
The Institute of Economic Affairs Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize
The Economist Open Future Prize
Cambridge Marshall Society Essay Competition
NCH Essay Competition
The LSESU Economics Society Essay Competition

It varied a lot depending on the essay title, as some can be more factual/theory based, whilst other questions can be more open ended and want your opinion rather than lots of theory and examples, but I usually researched for between 2-5 hours. You may find that during your first draft, you need to do extra research as your preliminary research may not have been detailed enough.

I'm glad that I entered some, as it was not only a great addition to my personal statement to prove my writing ability, but it was a fantastic chance for me to discover whether or not an economics degree would suit me, and whether or not I would enjoy essay writing at a higher level. They are quite different to A Level essays, and you have a lot more time to really research and delve into the nuances of a cool question, so I certainly think they are worth doing. You may find that if you hate them, a more mathematical economics degree may suit you.


What did you include in your personal statement and why?

I mentioned the lecture I went to, and the essay competitions I entered, as evidence of my proactive nature and academic ability. I also included a few of the books I’d read, and what they taught me / what I gained from them, to try and show Oxford I’d delved beyond the A Level Economics syllabus. I’d done a bit of banking work experience too, and tried to link that to management to explain why I wanted to study Oxford’s specific course as opposed to straight economics. The things I included in my personal statement were all for at least one of these three broad reasons: to prove my general academic ability; to prove my interest and aptitude in economics and suitability for Oxford’s specific course; and to prove that I have the right general skills and would suit the lifestyle of an Oxford student.


Exactly what did you research/read more about, and why were you interested in it?

I tried to read around as many areas of economics as possible, as especially for the TSA and for interviews, I wanted to have a more broad range of knowledge on lots of areas, so I would at least have some idea of theories/ideas for most topics. I mainly did this by reading The Economist and Financial Times articles, as well as articles from the BBC Business page. However, beyond that, my specific areas of interest are behavioural economics, game theory, labour market economics, competition theory, environmental economics, trade theory and development economics. Honestly, anything vaguely economics related is interesting to me! I would say specifically though, that I find behavioural economics fascinating to study as it questions lots of assumptions often made in A Level, and helps to build a much more realistic picture of human behaviour and decision making, meaning it can be very insightful in explaining lots of things we see in the real world. Anything by Thaler or Kahneman is usually a great place to start. Then, I'm curious about labour market economics, because in my eyes it has lots of links/crossover with management ideas, like motivation theory for example. Additionally, the global context of rapidly changing labour markets means there are lots of case studies to examine and lots of chances to see to what extent theory and ideas hold in real life.


Techniques you used for the entrance test

I used the books ‘So You Think You Can Think?’ and ‘The Ultimate TSA Guide,’ because I had never formally studied critical thinking before, and only took one essay subject (Economics A Level). I found the books helpful in understanding the question styles and learning tricks to speed up and maximise your marks.

Additionally, I used this helpful guide that is actually intended for the BMAT, but is quite similar and relevant to the TSA (just ignore the data science questions!):

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

Other than that, I’d just say that there’s no ‘magic bullet’ or anything like that; you just need to do lots of TSA past papers (and perhaps some BMAT Section 1 papers too, if you’re looking for even more practice). Make sure you go through any questions you get wrong and understand your mistakes.

For Section 2, I found the TSA videos from Jesus College really helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnN...Iy2laJ4Md8AdLA

Try and keep up with current affairs and have a general knowledge of big areas of economics, as looking at past papers indicates that most years have had one essay question which is economics based. Big areas of economics in my opinion, that are worth knowing about specifically for the TSA, would be trade, unemployment, tax/benefit systems and fiscal policy, the financial crisis, and inequality. I would personally advise against using too many technical theories or examples/statistics – although these are helpful to include, in the short 30 minutes you have, it’s really important to focus on the exact question they’re asking, so don’t get distracted by including things you’ve memorised, unless they’re fully relevant to your argument. Ensure you take a few minutes to plan the essay and your message/overall argument, and write with that purpose in mind.


How did you choose your college?

I went on an Open Day and this college stood out. Originally, I’d decided upon another college, but visiting on an Open Day is so insightful as you can properly get an idea about distances, accommodation, architecture, and the atmosphere at each college. If you can’t get to one, do a virtual tour instead, as you can still look around each college and get a rough feel for them. The Oxford College Suggester is also a useful tool:

http://apply.oxfordsu.org/colleges/suggester/

I also would highly recommend watching this video too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKMIdkf99aI

When I visited on an Open Day, I realised that I wanted a college that was a blend of old and new; I wanted a more old/traditional college, but not one of the absolute oldest ones. Size I didn't consider too much, but I wanted good accommodation and food, and speaking to students at different colleges helped to inform me. Also, I wanted a college that had more than 2 E&M spaces, and that provided accommodation for at least two years of the degree. The main thing was, however, that on an Open Day, I walked inside this college and instantly something clicked. It sounds very cheesy, but I knew it was the college for me by the time I'd finished looking around - the Student Ambassadors were so friendly and assured me that this was undoubtedly the best college, and answered lots of my questions about the college and the course. I hadn't even remotely considered this college before visiting, but after looking around it and meeting students there, I knew it was the place I wanted to be! Sometimes you truly will just get that feeling and the right 'vibe' from visiting a college, so if you can visit them, please do.


What was the interview experience like?

It was nothing like I expected and exactly like I expected at the same time… this sounds a bit odd, but that’s honestly the best way I can explain it! It was great fun getting to stay in the college and meet fellow interviewees; lots of people were incredibly friendly and the student ambassadors were always on hand to help. There were events on, like games nights and film nights, which were lovely chances to socialise, and the general atmosphere was really pleasant; I’d expected it to be a bit tense/competitive, but it wasn’t like that at all!

I really enjoyed my interviews; parts of them were like a conversation, and contrary to typical myths, there were no horrendously abstract questions at all or anything unreasonable. When I was going down the wrong path, the tutors made suggestions and helped guide me, and when I was doing well, they pushed me to go further and further and explore different ideas I hadn’t considered. I found it a really rewarding and exciting chance to talk to people who were passionate about the same things I was. Granted, I had done lots of reading and kept up with current affairs, but as long as you’re open minded and willing to think out loud and give things a go, I would guess that more often than not, interviews won’t be as bad as you think. You don't need to be an expert and know everything to do well.


How did you think you had done at the time?

Although I really enjoyed my interviews, and had thought they’d gone okay straight after I’d come out of them, the longer I’d had to ponder it, the more convinced I was that they’d went horrifically! I focussed only on the things I’d gotten wrong and all the better ways I could have developed my answers, and even though I knew I’d got some things right, I mentally told myself that those were basic questions and all the other applicants would have gotten them right too. It’s difficult, because you work really hard and really engage with your subject, and kind of expect yourself to be able to answer everything instantly to the best of your ability, all whilst comparing yourself to the imaginary ‘ideal’ that there will be other people answering everything perfectly. It’s so important to remember that interviews are stressful for everyone, and it’s almost inevitable that you’ll make silly slip ups and think of better things you could have said after the interviews are over.

My top three tips for before interviews are:

1. Be comfortable with AS maths, and as much of A2 pure and statistics as possible.

2. If possible, have mock interviews with an economics or business teacher beforehand, and then act on their feedback. It's helpful to practice reasoning through questions / problem solving / thinking out loud.

3. Bring a copy of any notes you’ve made (I would recommend writing summary notes for books you mention on your personal statement if it’s been a while since you read them), along with a copy of essays you mentioned (e.g. from competitions) and of course a copy of your personal statement. Read through these (especially your personal statement) either once you’re in Oxford, or in the days prior to your interview dates, and mentally think about some things they could ask you and how you’d answer.

My best advice for after interviews are these three tips:

1. Straight after your interviews, if you can, go to the JCR and spend time with other applicants (not for your subject!). Don’t talk about interviews and just try and take your mind off things and have fun meeting new people.

2. Try not to keep overanalysing it. Speak to your parents / siblings / friends if you need a moment to, but once you’ve done that try and forget about it and move on. Think positively about how you can improve in your next interview.

3. Try and make a bit of time to explore Oxford, speak to Student Ambassadors and get a feel for the college and the place. It’s important to explore and think about whether it’s a place where you could be happy for 3 (or more) years.


Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

I was at home, and was absolutely ecstatic when I found out. Initially, I thought it was a rejection because I’d heard somewhere that they send contracts or other things with the offer letter, so as soon as I saw the small, light envelope, I thought that was that. But then when I read that I had received an offer, I was over the moon and so pleased that my hard work had paid off.


Are you looking forward to Oxford?

Yes!!! If I meet my offer, I’ll be so thrilled and I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of studying this awesome course, surrounded by lots of bright people. It’s such a fantastic opportunity and I hope I get the chance to make the most of it.


Thank you for reading this, and please let me know if you've found it helpful or if you have another question
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:congrats:Mona123456

Thank you for this fantastic chapter!
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Also please see below links to Economics and Management web page

https://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/under...ics-management

admissions criteria

https://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/under...ics-management

the three different degrees available

https://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/teach...#undergraduate
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All the prospective PPEists!
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Very nice, good advice in there. I particularly liked the set of three before- and after- interview tips. I agree very much with them.
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Other links you may be interested in

Oxford economics reading list

http://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxfo...g_list_pdf.pdf

Cambridge economics reading list

www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ba/PrelimReadingList.pdf

(apparently Varian is very good for the maths side, or so a Cambridge uni student told me)

Oxford economics interview questions (plus book recommendations)

https://www.oxfordinterviewquestions...ons/economics/

https://www.tutor2u.net/economics/bl...idge-economics

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...and-management

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...ions/economics

http://www.oxfordinterviewquestions....ics_Sample.pdf

https://www.independent.co.uk/studen...-a6779006.html

interview description

https://www.crimsoneducation.org/uk/...ord-interview/

E&M interview advice

https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5...iew-at-oxford/

Oxford interview advice for PPE

https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/interviews

Youtube:

Oxford economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t89X4pgwrXE

Poor economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snol9dIz6Ds

Good economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzwxQ164FE0

Why study E&M at Oxford

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfmYvWzSfao

Official E&M Oxford youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvh3AEzALuo

Oxford PPE interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shNvxZpNYIA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p40epFOo3eM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcCEJ0Li4z8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zrxgJrOVV4

Hope you find this useful xx
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(Original post by Fullofsurprises)
Very nice, good advice in there. I particularly liked the set of three before- and after- interview tips. I agree very much with them.
Great chapter, isn't it?
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Great chapter, isn't it?
It is. The advice on the reading is good as well.

I normally suggest people heading for an interview in the Econ arena, or in PPE, look at things like the Oxford Short Introductions, they are a great rapid scan through the field(s) and often more accurate and comprehensive than the kind of thing taught on typical A level courses. Thoroughly read a few relevant ones and you will be more pepped up to talk knowledgeably than you would be if you dived into big tomes. Another good thing to do is read every other issue of The Economist (it's expensive and you don't need to read every one) and also check out the opinion pieces of economists online, particularly in the Guardian, the Washington Post (the latter charges but they let you read so many free each month), the FT (paywall) and the NY Times site. The US papers tend (I hate to say it) to be better than most of the UK ones.
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(Original post by Fullofsurprises)
It is. The advice on the reading is good as well.

I normally suggest people heading for an interview in the Econ arena, or in PPE, look at things like the Oxford Short Introductions, they are a great rapid scan through the field(s) and often more accurate and comprehensive than the kind of thing taught on typical A level courses. Thoroughly read a few relevant ones and you will be more pepped up to talk knowledgeably than you would be if you dived into big tomes. Another good thing to do is read every other issue of The Economist (it's expensive and you don't need to read every one) and also check out the opinion pieces of economists online, particularly in the Guardian, the Washington Post (the latter charges but they let you read so many free each month), the FT (paywall) and the NY Times site. The US papers tend (I hate to say it) to be better than most of the UK ones.
Sounds good to me. Did you study PPE when you were at Oxford, Full?

Yes, the very short introductions are amazing, they provide a large amount of info in a very short book (useful if you don't have much time.)

The medical ones are great, there is one for the cell, and others different branches of medicine. They are always written by eminent members of their field (for example Mary Beard wrote one about the Romans) and are not to be sneezed at by any prospective Oxford student!
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(Original post by Fullofsurprises)
It is. The advice on the reading is good as well.

I normally suggest people heading for an interview in the Econ arena, or in PPE, look at things like the Oxford Short Introductions, they are a great rapid scan through the field(s) and often more accurate and comprehensive than the kind of thing taught on typical A level courses. Thoroughly read a few relevant ones and you will be more pepped up to talk knowledgeably than you would be if you dived into big tomes. Another good thing to do is read every other issue of The Economist (it's expensive and you don't need to read every one) and also check out the opinion pieces of economists online, particularly in the Guardian, the Washington Post (the latter charges but they let you read so many free each month), the FT (paywall) and the NY Times site. The US papers tend (I hate to say it) to be better than most of the UK ones.
Thank you. I completely agree with these recommendations too and the Oxford Very Short Introductions were really helpful prior to interviews - not something to mention on personal statements, but great for getting a fairly thorough introduction for lots of different areas of economics! They’re definitely short and sweet.
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Other links you may be interested in

Oxford economics reading list

www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/media_wysiwyg/Economics_%26_Management_reading_list_pdf.pdf

Cambridge economics reading list

www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ba/PrelimReadingList.pdf

(apparently Varian is very good for the maths side, or so a Cambridge uni student told me)

Oxford economics interview questions (plus book recommendations)

https://www.oxfordinterviewquestions...ons/economics/

https://www.tutor2u.net/economics/bl...idge-economics

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...and-management

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...ions/economics

www.oxfordinterviewquestions.com/interviewguide/OIQ_Economics_Sample.pdf

https://www.independent.co.uk/studen...-a6779006.html

interview description

https://www.crimsoneducation.org/uk/...ord-interview/

E&M interview advice

https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5...iew-at-oxford/

Oxford interview advice for PPE

https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/interviews

Youtube:

Oxford economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t89X4pgwrXE

Poor economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snol9dIz6Ds

Good economics interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzwxQ164FE0

Why study E&M at Oxford

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfmYvWzSfao

Official E&M Oxford youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvh3AEzALuo

Oxford PPE interview

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shNvxZpNYIA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p40epFOo3eM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcCEJ0Li4z8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zrxgJrOVV4

Hope you find this useful xx
Thank you for all of these links - I’m sure prospective applicants will find them really helpful!
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Prospective candidates don’t be shy: if you have any questions and can post them here, it would be really useful
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Tagging a few more people who may find this thread helpful:

anom.econ
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E&M1234
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Incede
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Hiya! My school doesn't teach economics so I'm having to teach myself the course as an extra subject (which is difficult because only private schools offer economics in Scotland and there's not many resources for it). Is it worth mentioning somewhere in my personal statement or my reference that this is the case or is it better to just not mention it at all?
Also, I've heard that the Cambridge economics course is a lot more maths heavy in the first year or so, is this difference very big or is it just a slight difference that people tend to highlight?

Well done on your offer btw, and hope that you meet your offer
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(Original post by scottishnerd)
Hiya! My school doesn't teach economics so I'm having to teach myself the course as an extra subject (which is difficult because only private schools offer economics in Scotland and there's not many resources for it). Is it worth mentioning somewhere in my personal statement or my reference that this is the case or is it better to just not mention it at all?
Also, I've heard that the Cambridge economics course is a lot more maths heavy in the first year or so, is this difference very big or is it just a slight difference that people tend to highlight?

Well done on your offer btw, and hope that you meet your offer
Hi Scottishnerd!

Yes, teaching yourself economics shows you have a real interest in the subject, and have taken the time to improve your knowledge. Intellectual curiosity and "self-directed study" are the top qualities Oxford is looking for! So yes, do mention it on your personal statement. Maybe talk about what you found fascinating about it, any surprising and particularly interesting things you discovered whilst you were teaching yourself? Don't just say "I taught myself A level economics! Oxford really like to ask the question "why". This happens both in interviews and tutorials, so give them lots of "why" answers.

Also Mona mentioned looking at newspapers and journals, so keep on making your knowledge current. There must be hundreds of articles about how coronavirus is affecting the economy, both here in the UK and all over the world. And hundreds of predictions about what will happen next.

I once helped a friend get in for Cambridge economics (she is now in her second year). Her favourite subject at school was maths, which is why she preferred the Cambridge course. If you look at the Cambridge reading list, there is a book by Varian. This book was recommended to her by a tutor at the Cambridge open day. She bought and read the book and yes, it did come in very handy. To answer your question: yes, the Cambridge economics course is very mathsy!

Mona123456, a lot of students will be choosing between the Cambridge and Oxford economics degrees. I know you have not started your course yet, but is that why you applied to Oxford? Was it the management element you liked? Or is there still quite a bit of maths involved?

In fact, maybe when you start the course, Mona, you could give us an update on exactly how mathsy it is!

Thank you.
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Hi Scottishnerd!

Yes, teaching yourself economics shows you have a real interest in the subject, and have taken the time to improve your knowledge. Intellectual curiosity and "self-directed study" are the top qualities Oxford is looking for! So yes, do mention it on your personal statement. Maybe talk about what you found fascinating about it, any surprising and particularly interesting things you discovered whilst you were teaching yourself? Don't just say "I taught myself A level economics! Oxford really like to ask the question "why". This happens both in interviews and tutorials, so give them lots of "why" answers.

Also Mona mentioned looking at newspapers and journals, so keep on making your knowledge current. There must be hundreds of articles about how coronavirus is affecting the economy, both here in the UK and all over the world. And hundreds of predictions about what will happen next.

I once helped a friend get in for Cambridge economics (she is now in her second year). Her favourite subject at school was maths, which is why she preferred the Cambridge course. If you look at the Cambridge reading list, there is a book by Varian. This book was recommended to her by a tutor at the Cambridge open day. She bought and read the book and yes, it did come in very handy. To answer your question: yes, the Cambridge economics course is very mathsy!

Mona123456, a lot of students will be choosing between the Cambridge and Oxford economics degrees. I know you have not started your course yet, but is that why you applied to Oxford? Was it the management element you liked? Or is there still quite a bit of maths involved?

In fact, maybe when you start the course, Mona, you could give us an update on exactly how mathsy it is!

Thank you.
Hi all,

First, to answer your question Oxford Mum, yes, the management component of Oxford’s degree is what attracted me to the course. It is very much a balance of essay writing and maths, and you can still tilt it slightly either way though, because there’s lots of flexibility over second and third year modules.

scottishnerd so a Cambridge admissions tutor said that the course is essentially an applied statistics degree by the final year. It is considerably more mathematical, which is emphasised by the fact that further maths is explicitly preferred (Oxford do not say this, although I expect still like people to be highly able at maths - I take further maths and people I spoke to at interview did. But not having further maths is less of a problem for Oxford, more of a problem for Cambridge).

Also, scottishnerd to answer your other questions - I would definitely put on your application (probably in your reference) that you haven’t had the chance to take economics because it wasn’t offered (this is also recommended for people who couldn’t take further maths).

For anyone reading this who couldn’t take further maths and/or economics, some great free resources to self teach include:

Further maths:

https://amsp.org.uk

https://www.examsolutions.net

Economics:

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCQbBh9Jn2IjcSPZOiNKJu0g

https://m.youtube.com/user/pajholden

I hope this helps and answers your questions - if not let me know!
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Thank you both! Although there was a little bit of information on what to do in my situation there was no explicit guidance or answers on what would be better to do
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(Original post by scottishnerd)
Mona123456 Oxford Mum
Thank you both! Although there was a little bit of information on what to do in my situation there was no explicit guidance or answers on what would be better to do
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