Why is E&M so oversubscribed at Oxbridge compared to PPE & Econ?

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Anonymous #1
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Why is E&M the most competitive course at Oxford (and Oxbridge as a whole I believe)? Is it due to the perceived easiness of the subject, career prospects, or students' low calibre?
I'm planning on applying to Oxford for either PPE or E&M as I enjoy both courses equally, but can't decide which one to stump for. I'm baffled as to why a course as prestigious as PPE (or pure Econ @ Cambridge) is less subscribed to compared to E&M.
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Anonymous #2
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Because E+M makes $ machine go brrr
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Anonymous #3
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Econ and Management just seems like a very competitive degree overall. At LSE this is 22:1 and can be expected due to career prospects as theses graduates tend to be very high earners if they came out of places like Oxbridge and LSE. It is definitely not to do with the easiness and PPE remains one of the most competitive degrees in the UK too just not as much as E&M
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Econ and Management just seems like a very competitive degree overall. At LSE this is 22:1 and can be expected due to career prospects as theses graduates tend to be very high earners if they came out of places like Oxbridge and LSE. It is definitely not to do with the easiness and PPE remains one of the most competitive degrees in the UK too just not as much as E&M
Is that 22 applicants per place? Really?
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Why is E&M the most competitive course at Oxford (and Oxbridge as a whole I believe)? Is it due to the perceived easiness of the subject, career prospects, or students' low calibre?
I'm planning on applying to Oxford for either PPE or E&M as I enjoy both courses equally, but can't decide which one to stump for. I'm baffled as to why a course as prestigious as PPE (or pure Econ @ Cambridge) is less subscribed to compared to E&M.
It's not the most competitive course at Oxbridge on the whole; I believe the joint maths and statistics course at Oxford has that title, although that course might have the benefit of being potentially made an offer for the single honours maths course instead, and computer science at Oxford has had the same success rate averaged over the last 3 years. This also excludes graduate entry medicine, which I imagine would probably be similarly or more competitive at either.

In any case I imagine the competitiveness comes from wannabe IBankers/hedge fund managers applying to it in higher proportions than those other courses due to the "and management" part of the course. I also expect as a result it might attract slightly more international student applicants who are also applying to e.g. Ivy leagues in the US or top undergraduate business courses elsewhere in the world. PPE probably wouldn't have this same international appeal since a lot of its prestige is due to its association by domestic students with going into the government here (which is very much a UK centric concern/knowledge) and single honours economics at Cambridge doesn't have the management element to sell to those focused on that stuff and is more of a general academic course in economics which might not be perceived as well by that demographic of international students.

Would you rather spend 3 years studying economics and stuff like accounting and corporate strategy, or things like metaphysics, political philosophy, and international relations? There's no point applying for a course because it's more competitive if it doesn't have the content you actually want to learn and vice versa. Also within the UK neither is going to be "better" for getting a job at the end of the degree, as that will depend on what work experience and internships you've actually gained in the process, rather than the subject(s) you studied, given they are both taught at the same uni. Bear in mind also you have the same economics options in both courses, and you can study similar proportions of economics vs the other subject(s) in each (E&M lets you take up to 6 economics papers in the FHS I believe, while PPE lets you take up to 5; note however at least one economics paper is crosslisted as a politics paper so if you took that one you could still take 6 papers offered at least partly by the economics department).
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username4218074
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I'll drop my two cents on it all but a brief summary: the competitiveness of E&M is it grossly distorted by how its statistics are presented - I heard somewhere that a LOT of the applicants are much lower quality than would be expected including a vast increase in international students who don't know much about the UK application process who make poorer quality applications applying to E&M over other courses. This is actually echoed by how competitive straight economics is at LSE (and UCL by extension), LSE is 70% international students so most applicants are also internationals and whom a lot of apply for economics at LSE. - Basically a lot of top economics courses in the UK have a HUGE application pool from overseas.

Now its important to note that alot of people study economics with the interest of going into finance/investment banking and unfortunately many (incl. international students) think you have to study economics to work in this industry - this sentiment is further followed by students from Asia where university courses are much more vocational than here in the UK. The fact you can study biology and become a banker at Goldman Sachs isn't a known thing there and even here lol. Thus, alot of international students who wish to work in the finance sector in the UK are automatically skewed towards applying for economics (and ideally the purest economics course they can find) so a greater proportion of finance prospects abroad apply for economics than do in the UK as its more well-known by home students that the degree itself is irrelevant.

Typically Oxford receives more applications than cambridge and this is doubly true for international applicants and so the financiers apply to the most economics sounding course Oxford has and voila, you find economics and management which literally sounds like an investment banking degree lol, even more so than PPE. - supporting this statement many foreign people (including my very own parents) would be skeptical about the philosophy and politics aspect of the degree in terms of being a viable degree for investment banking and finance so many are turned off from PPE for that reason.

TLDR: should be skeptical of calling E&M the most competitive course at Oxbridge since there is a greater number and proportion of international students applying for economics courses in the UK than other courses and on average as they have less support they make weaker applications and have less understanding on the process. E&M sounds greatly more appropriate for finance than PPE for many Asian and other international students so they auto apply to E&M.
Last edited by username4218074; 1 month ago
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username4218074
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
It's not the most competitive course at Oxbridge on the whole; I believe the joint maths and statistics course at Oxford has that title, although that course might have the benefit of being potentially made an offer for the single honours maths course instead, and computer science at Oxford has had the same success rate averaged over the last 3 years. This also excludes graduate entry medicine, which I imagine would probably be similarly or more competitive at either.

In any case I imagine the competitiveness comes from wannabe IBankers/hedge fund managers applying to it in higher proportions than those other courses due to the "and management" part of the course. I also expect as a result it might attract slightly more international student applicants who are also applying to e.g. Ivy leagues in the US or top undergraduate business courses elsewhere in the world. PPE probably wouldn't have this same international appeal since a lot of its prestige is due to its association by domestic students with going into the government here (which is very much a UK centric concern/knowledge) and single honours economics at Cambridge doesn't have the management element to sell to those focused on that stuff and is more of a general academic course in economics which might not be perceived as well by that demographic of international students.

Would you rather spend 3 years studying economics and stuff like accounting and corporate strategy, or things like metaphysics, political philosophy, and international relations? There's no point applying for a course because it's more competitive if it doesn't have the content you actually want to learn and vice versa. Also within the UK neither is going to be "better" for getting a job at the end of the degree, as that will depend on what work experience and internships you've actually gained in the process, rather than the subject(s) you studied, given they are both taught at the same uni. Bear in mind also you have the same economics options in both courses, and you can study similar proportions of economics vs the other subject(s) in each (E&M lets you take up to 6 economics papers in the FHS I believe, while PPE lets you take up to 5; note however at least one economics paper is crosslisted as a politics paper so if you took that one you could still take 6 papers offered at least partly by the economics department).
I mean cambridge publishes higher entry reqs which I believe turns a lot of students off by default considering the perceived difficulty of getting into Oxbridge, you're spot on with the wannabe Ibankers and bear in mind many more international students apply for econ courses than other courses in the UK. (evident through UCL, LSE etc) - in many cultures PPE sounds outlandishly silly as an appropriate degree for a finance career compared to E&M.
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artful_lounger
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The above about international students distorting the statistics may be accurate, since about 50% of applicants were non-domestic students, and for domestic domiciled students only the success rate was nearly twice as high as the overall data. For domestic domiciled students only in 2020 physphil, maths and CS, CS, and maths and stats were all more competitive.

That said PPE had more than 50% of its applicants being non-domestic students and was still less competitive in both frames, however it's worth also noting that PPE is a much larger course, taking nearly 3 times as many applicants as E&M, and so smaller variances in the E&M data will have larger effects on the overall statistics.
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username4218074
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
The above about international students distorting the statistics may be accurate, since about 50% of applicants were non-domestic students, and for domestic domiciled students only the success rate was nearly twice as high as the overall data. For domestic domiciled students only in 2020 physphil, maths and CS, CS, and maths and stats were all more competitive.
tbh my opinion was based on anecdotal information and published statistics - i can personally attest to the nature of 'degree for job' attitude many non-brits have lol.
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Why is E&M the most competitive course at Oxford (and Oxbridge as a whole I believe)? Is it due to the perceived easiness of the subject, career prospects, or students' low calibre?
I'm planning on applying to Oxford for either PPE or E&M as I enjoy both courses equally, but can't decide which one to stump for. I'm baffled as to why a course as prestigious as PPE (or pure Econ @ Cambridge) is less subscribed to compared to E&M.
I'd suggest its mainly that its a small course, that it attracts a lot of internationals, and that it attracts a lot of people who think its the best route to earning loads of money (and they might be right...).

I'd suggest no its not known to be an easy subject at all. The management stuff in particular is quite intense. Most of the course is management right (before it divides into optional modules), not economics.

PPE, on the other hand, was kind of known as a doss subject when I was there!
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username4218074
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Omg it’s the Levi guy smh. Don’t trust what they say their facts are wrong I remember their post bashing other universities and their courses.
Fact DOn't cArE about your feelings. - cringiest statement in existence but actually applies here, if you didn't like what I said in a different post that doesn't render my points here as moot. Go moan elsewhere since my opinions on this matter have been echoed by people who know even more than me. Also even if I was bashing other universities, it would be very tone-deaf of me to attempt to bash oxbridge/lse (unis in the OP) since both are better than the uni I'm going to. Also i didn't bash other unis I asked how lower grade requirements like BBB for comp sci at one university matches A*A*A at another comp sci course and how both universities ensure their students are capable enough to be taught the same stuff - the answer to this was that they don't. If I recall correctly that thread did get quite toxic but I can't remember if I actually caused that since my question was answered on the first page. Anyways OP's question has been answered.
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