historicism
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Offer holder for History and Economics here.

My long-term ambition is to complete a PhD in Economics at a top US or UK university before pursuing a career in research. I appreciate that it might be a little early for me to be considering postgraduate study, but I have a lot of time on my hands to think about the future at the moment.

I'm aware that the flexibility of the History and Economics course is such that I will be able to take as many economics papers as PPE and E&M students, which I indeed plan to do. Specifically, I'd like to take "Quantitative Economics" and "Econometrics" as more technically rigorous options. However, having done a little research into PhD programmes in the US, I'm worried that there simply isn't enough mathematics in Oxford's economics courses to allow me to make a competitive application.

Since Oxford's "modules" don't seem to work in at all the same way as those at other universities, it's quite difficult to work out how much pure maths will be covered in the course. In the US, the degree system means that the majority of undergraduates interested in economics research careers have the opportunity to take quite advanced maths courses. At Oxford, my options are essentially limited to which areas of economics I'd like to cover, with no real equivalent to courses like Harvard's "Math 112: Real Analysis". Is the maths at Oxford "hidden" within the more mathsy economics papers, or is there just very little maths at all?

I took A-Level Maths and did Further Maths to AS, so I think that I've covered some of the required maths content for such PhD programmes, but it's difficult to be sure. It'll also have been nearly three years since I finished my A-Levels by the time I'm applying to postgraduate courses. There's the potential option of attempting to get a more quantitative Master's degree before applying, but I am now concerned that my undergraduate degree won't allow me even to access those. I am highly doubtful that Oxford would allow me to transfer to a course like Mathematics and Statistics, which increasingly looks to me like it would be more adequate preparation for the path I'd like to take. If I'd have realised my ambition earlier then I'd certainly have applied to a different course.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you for your time
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honeydukes01
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Hey! I’m a PPE offer holder, and I have exactly the same concern

It looks like we do multivariable calculus in first year, but no vector spaces, which is a bit different to other unis. (https://www.spc.ox.ac.uk/sites/defau...ook_2019_0.pdf) Also, I can’t seem to find where the advanced stats is covered - e.g. at LSE they do this in ST102 in first year - so unless you’re correct in saying it’s hidden in a second year econ module, I’m worried we won’t get to cover it at all.

I’d love an answer to your question too. I’ve done FM and I really enjoy maths, so don’t want to miss out on this at uni, and am also worried about not covering the level of maths required by a US postgrad/LSE postgrad. I’ve had a look and it seems that the only top 5 UK econ masters we will definitely be able to access is Oxford’s (unless, we do cover the maths in the Econometrics, Quantitative Econ and Micro Analysis papers in second/third year which is what I’m really hoping for) ...
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mnot
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(Original post by historicism)
Offer holder for History and Economics here.

My long-term ambition is to complete a PhD in Economics at a top US or UK university before pursuing a career in research. I appreciate that it might be a little early for me to be considering postgraduate study, but I have a lot of time on my hands to think about the future at the moment.

I'm aware that the flexibility of the History and Economics course is such that I will be able to take as many economics papers as PPE and E&M students, which I indeed plan to do. Specifically, I'd like to take "Quantitative Economics" and "Econometrics" as more technically rigorous options. However, having done a little research into PhD programmes in the US, I'm worried that there simply isn't enough mathematics in Oxford's economics courses to allow me to make a competitive application.

Since Oxford's "modules" don't seem to work in at all the same way as those at other universities, it's quite difficult to work out how much pure maths will be covered in the course. In the US, the degree system means that the majority of undergraduates interested in economics research careers have the opportunity to take quite advanced maths courses. At Oxford, my options are essentially limited to which areas of economics I'd like to cover, with no real equivalent to courses like Harvard's "Math 112: Real Analysis". Is the maths at Oxford "hidden" within the more mathsy economics papers, or is there just very little maths at all?

I took A-Level Maths and did Further Maths to AS, so I think that I've covered some of the required maths content for such PhD programmes, but it's difficult to be sure. It'll also have been nearly three years since I finished my A-Levels by the time I'm applying to postgraduate courses. There's the potential option of attempting to get a more quantitative Master's degree before applying, but I am now concerned that my undergraduate degree won't allow me even to access those. I am highly doubtful that Oxford would allow me to transfer to a course like Mathematics and Statistics, which increasingly looks to me like it would be more adequate preparation for the path I'd like to take. If I'd have realised my ambition earlier then I'd certainly have applied to a different course.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you for your time
So I dont know how much Oxfords maths is in History and Economics.

But id imagine the economics course has lots of econometrics given further maths is one of the common A-level choices, id imagine many of these modules are also open to your course (so load up as many whilst there).

I suspect you'll be fine with this choice for a PhD at US schools for a couple reasons:
-Brand name, everyone knows Oxford, & Oxford economics is known to attract elite students
-If you perform well at Oxford get a 1st everyone will know you've been an excellent student relative to a very competitive class.
-You can perform strongly on the econometrics modules you take....
-There is more to a PhD application then just undergrad, have you done any prior smaller research projects (internships/dissertation etc.) how did these go...
-What specific field of research are you keen on ...


IF this is not enough you can do a quantitive finance or maths & economics 1 year taught masters to give you that bump
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historicism
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(Original post by honeydukes01)
Hey! I’m a PPE offer holder, and I have exactly the same concern

It looks like we do multivariable calculus in first year, but no vector spaces, which is a bit different to other unis. (https://www.spc.ox.ac.uk/sites/defau...ook_2019_0.pdf) Also, I can’t seem to find where the advanced stats is covered - e.g. at LSE they do this in ST102 in first year - so unless you’re correct in saying it’s hidden in a second year econ module, I’m worried we won’t get to cover it at all.

I’d love an answer to your question too. I’ve done FM and I really enjoy maths, so don’t want to miss out on this at uni, and am also worried about not covering the level of maths required by a US postgrad/LSE postgrad.
From what I've seen of the LSE postgraduate admissions requirements, they are a little more lenient on the maths side than US courses, if that's any consolation. Hopefully we'll have an answer soon!
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mnot
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Your course will be fine.

Just focus on:

-Performing strongly academically at uni
-Finding a genre of econometrics you are passionate about and want to commit years to
-stacking CV from year 1, try and get a research internship (or other if not possible)
-read, read, read (papers, articles, FT)
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artful_lounger
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Hmm, the issue is top grad programmes in economics in the US usually expect or at least strongly prefer you have taken real analysis - which won't be possible at Oxford. It is possible to take that at LSE (if you took introduction to abstract mathematics in first year) or as an option at Warwick, however.
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honeydukes01
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Hmm, the issue is top grad programmes in economics in the US usually expect or at least strongly prefer you have taken real analysis - which won't be possible at Oxford. It is possible to take that at LSE (if you took introduction to abstract mathematics in first year) or as an option at Warwick, however.
This is what I’m worried about. I got rejected from both LSE and Warwick so I did not have the option to accept somewhere other than Oxford. I’m now worried that the PPE course at Oxford will close doors of the postgrad courses that I’m interested in...
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mnot
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Hmm, the issue is top grad programmes in economics in the US usually expect or at least strongly prefer you have taken real analysis - which won't be possible at Oxford. It is possible to take that at LSE (if you took introduction to abstract mathematics in first year) or as an option at Warwick, however.
Not an expert at economics but would getting a one year masters in something like:
-econometrics
-mathematical finance
or similar

compensate for the lack of real analysis in this undergrad?
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honeydukes01
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(Original post by mnot)
Not an expert at economics but would getting a one year masters in something like:
-econometrics
-mathematical finance
or similar

compensate for the lack of real analysis in this undergrad?
It’s hard to get into one of these masters courses at a top U.K. uni without doing a mathematical undergrad. We’d have to do the 2 year masters in Oxford, as I don’t think LSE/UCL/Cambridge/Warwick would accept
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by honeydukes01)
This is what I’m worried about. I got rejected from both LSE and Warwick so I did not have the option to accept somewhere other than Oxford. I’m now worried that the PPE course at Oxford will close doors of the postgrad courses that I’m interested in...
(Original post by mnot)
Not an expert at economics but would getting a one year masters in something like:
-econometrics
-mathematical finance
or similar

compensate for the lack of real analysis in this undergrad?
In the UK sure, for a PhD in the US, I'm not so certain; the top econ programmes (for pure econ rather than something like PEG at Harvard) seem to like their grads to take real analysis (and linear algebra, although this is covered in the computational manner more in most economics programmes in the UK) even just to prove they can/have beyond whether it's really needed for their eventual project. As far as UK degrees go you would probably be better served by a maths (or maths and economics) degree than something like history & economics or PPE for those programmes. That said some programmes (such as I believe Harvard) do in theory take applicants without real analysis (although you'd need to take it once you started there).

That said, is there a particular reason for targeting those programmes rather than ones in the UK? Particularly if you wanted to study e.g. economic history, you may find plenty of equally good or potentially better (e.g. LSE, which has a specific programme in quantitative economic history). Even for economics more generally, depending on what are you want to go into you could get your PhD in that area without needing to fulfill some possibly arbitrary requirement in real analysis in the UK (and you'd be able to go straight into research rather than taking classes for a couple years before getting to start your research project).

Tagging in .ACS. who is far better qualified than I to advise on graduate study and research in economics and might be able to help advise!
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historicism
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(Original post by mnot)
So I dont know how much Oxfords maths is in History and Economics.

But id imagine the economics course has lots of econometrics given further maths is one of the common A-level choices, id imagine many of these modules are also open to your course (so load up as many whilst there).

I suspect you'll be fine with this choice for a PhD at US schools for a couple reasons:
-Brand name, everyone knows Oxford, & Oxford economics is known to attract elite students
-If you perform well at Oxford get a 1st everyone will know you've been an excellent student relative to a very competitive class.
-You can perform strongly on the econometrics modules you take....
-There is more to a PhD application then just undergrad, have you done any prior smaller research projects (internships/dissertation etc.) how did these go...
-What specific field of research are you keen on ...


IF this is not enough you can do a quantitive finance or maths & economics 1 year taught masters to give you that bump
Thank you very much for the reassurance.

Of course, it's early days, but I am very interested in development economics, potentially incorporating the use of historical insights, so admittedly not a particularly mathematical field. However, there does appear to be a lot of emphasis placed on maths skills for successful applicants to the courses I've looked at, particularly at colleges like MIT and Stanford, so I will look further into what my options for a 1-year Master's would be.
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honeydukes01
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
In the UK sure, for a PhD in the US, I'm not so certain; the top econ programmes (for pure econ rather than something like PEG at Harvard) seem to like their grads to take real analysis (and linear algebra, although this is covered in the computational manner more in most economics programmes in the UK) even just to prove they can/have beyond whether it's really needed for their eventual project. As far as UK degrees go you would probably be better served by a maths (or maths and economics) degree than something like history & economics or PPE for those programmes. That said some programmes (such as I believe Harvard) do in theory take applicants without real analysis (although you'd need to take it once you started there).

That said, is there a particular reason for targeting those programmes rather than ones in the UK? Particularly if you wanted to study e.g. economic history, you may find plenty of equally good or potentially better (e.g. LSE, which has a specific programme in quantitative economic history). Even for economics more generally, depending on what are you want to go into you could get your PhD in that area without needing to fulfill some possibly arbitrary requirement in real analysis in the UK (and you'd be able to go straight into research rather than taking classes for a couple years before getting to start your research project).

Tagging in .ACS. who is far better qualified than I to advise on graduate study and research in economics and might be able to help advise!
Thanks for the helpful comments.

As far as I can see, the Oxford undergrad course does not explicitly state that it covers linear algebra, which is something else I was concerned about. Other unis have separate econ, maths and stats modules, but Oxford labels them all as ‘econ’ modules and the maths and stats is covered within them, so it’s hard to see which exact topics we will be covering. According to the maths workbook, the only extension on normal maths A-level covered in first year is multivariable calculus, so unless linear algebra is in ‘Quantitative Economics’, ‘Econometrics, or ‘Microeconomics Analysis’ (which I highly doubt it is) which are the second/third year mathsy econ modules, I’m worried we won’t be doing any linear algebra at all!
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historicism
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
In the UK sure, for a PhD in the US, I'm not so certain; the top econ programmes (for pure econ rather than something like PEG at Harvard) seem to like their grads to take real analysis (and linear algebra, although this is covered in the computational manner more in most economics programmes in the UK) even just to prove they can/have beyond whether it's really needed for their eventual project. As far as UK degrees go you would probably be better served by a maths (or maths and economics) degree than something like history & economics or PPE for those programmes. That said some programmes (such as I believe Harvard) do in theory take applicants without real analysis (although you'd need to take it once you started there).

That said, is there a particular reason for targeting those programmes rather than ones in the UK? Particularly if you wanted to study e.g. economic history, you may find plenty of equally good or potentially better (e.g. LSE, which has a specific programme in quantitative economic history). Even for economics more generally, depending on what are you want to go into you could get your PhD in that area without needing to fulfill some possibly arbitrary requirement in real analysis in the UK (and you'd be able to go straight into research rather than taking classes for a couple years before getting to start your research project).

Tagging in .ACS. who is far better qualified than I to advise on graduate study and research in economics and might be able to help advise!
The main reason that I'm targeting the top US PhD programmes is that their placement records and overall reputation are quite a lot stronger than those of the UK's highest-ranked programmes. If I'm going to commit to a PhD, I'd like to maximise my chances of a successful career. From what I've seen, LSE is the only UK university that can really compete with those US schools, and even then there are few who would believe an LSE PhD to be comparable to one from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, UChicago, Princeton, Berkeley, etc.
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historicism
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Hmm, the issue is top grad programmes in economics in the US usually expect or at least strongly prefer you have taken real analysis - which won't be possible at Oxford. It is possible to take that at LSE (if you took introduction to abstract mathematics in first year) or as an option at Warwick, however.
I have an offer for Economics and Economic History at LSE, but I already firmed Oxford and set LSE as my insurance around a month ago. Do you think attempting to switch might be advisable or even possible?
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by honeydukes01)
!
Linear algebra is in micro analysis - which I found by trawling through a very large number of (mostly very tedious ) freedom of information act requests to find some of the PPE/HEco/E&M examiners reports, which included some comments on one of the questions which related to linear algebra and multivariable calculus. I would note what is often called "linear algebra" in the US may well be referred to as simply matrices/matrix algebra/etc, as here "linear algebra" more commonly is used to refer to abstract linear algebra specifically. Those topics (i.e. in a non-abstract form) are pretty common in economics degrees in the UK.

(Original post by historicism)
.
I'll leave this one for .ACS. to hopefully answer, except for the general remark that it very much depends on what career you want to pursue afterwards as to which programme might be best (and indeed if a top US programme is necessary or even relevant), and that I'm not sure it's ever really possible to bank on a career in academia post-PhD. I think there is an element of luck involved, and certainly what might be a plausible career progression post-PhD may not be what you have in mind e.g. researching (and teaching probably) economics at a university you may not consider as particularly prestigious, initially or even for your whole career - bearing in mind you would still be doing essentially the same work you would be at the prestigious university.

(Original post by historicism)
?
It is possible to swap your firm and insurance, although I'm not so certain on the particular timing for or conditions attached to that are - PQ might be able to advise?

Whether you should, is another question entirely. In that particular course at LSE, you only do the half papers in mathematical methods and stats in first year, and have no optional modules to be able to take intro to abstract maths, so you wouldn't be able to take the real analysis half paper anyway in third year, nor would you be likely to be able to take the further mathematical methods paper (which covers more linear algebra and calculus, and the calculus section makes reference to limits so might include a little analysis adjacent content at least). I don't really see that you will cover much more maths in that course at LSE than the course at Oxford in all honesty - it seems more of a latitudinal shift than anything, as far as maths content is concerned.

Before either of you get too hung up on US grad schools and real analysis, are you wholly certain you wish to do that kind of abstract maths work? You might want to look at an introductory analysis text (e.g. Spivak's Calculus, or anything called "Introduction to Analysis") to see what that type of maths entails. It isn't at all like the kinds of problem solving maths you do in A-level, and is not to everyone's taste.
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Anonymity1
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(Original post by historicism)
Offer holder for History and Economics here.

My long-term ambition is to complete a PhD in Economics at a top US or UK university before pursuing a career in research. I appreciate that it might be a little early for me to be considering postgraduate study, but I have a lot of time on my hands to think about the future at the moment.

I'm aware that the flexibility of the History and Economics course is such that I will be able to take as many economics papers as PPE and E&M students, which I indeed plan to do. Specifically, I'd like to take "Quantitative Economics" and "Econometrics" as more technically rigorous options. However, having done a little research into PhD programmes in the US, I'm worried that there simply isn't enough mathematics in Oxford's economics courses to allow me to make a competitive application.

Since Oxford's "modules" don't seem to work in at all the same way as those at other universities, it's quite difficult to work out how much pure maths will be covered in the course. In the US, the degree system means that the majority of undergraduates interested in economics research careers have the opportunity to take quite advanced maths courses. At Oxford, my options are essentially limited to which areas of economics I'd like to cover, with no real equivalent to courses like Harvard's "Math 112: Real Analysis". Is the maths at Oxford "hidden" within the more mathsy economics papers, or is there just very little maths at all?

I took A-Level Maths and did Further Maths to AS, so I think that I've covered some of the required maths content for such PhD programmes, but it's difficult to be sure. It'll also have been nearly three years since I finished my A-Levels by the time I'm applying to postgraduate courses. There's the potential option of attempting to get a more quantitative Master's degree before applying, but I am now concerned that my undergraduate degree won't allow me even to access those. I am highly doubtful that Oxford would allow me to transfer to a course like Mathematics and Statistics, which increasingly looks to me like it would be more adequate preparation for the path I'd like to take. If I'd have realised my ambition earlier then I'd certainly have applied to a different course.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you for your time
historicism honeydukes01 Hey guys, (sorry for replying to this thread after a year) I was just wondering if you guys are at Oxford now and if you are, could you share how much maths there is in the economics part of the course in both year 1 and the other years (if you know which modules). Do you study topics like matrices/linear algebra, multivariable calculus, optimisation, Taylor series and difference & differential equations. I'm in a similar predicament to you guys this year. Thanks.
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