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MSc Economics

Any opinions of the MSc Economics (and student life) at Durham vs LSE vs UCL vs St Andrew’s.
Original post by __Khaleesi
Any opinions of the MSc Economics (and student life) at Durham vs LSE vs UCL vs St Andrew’s.

I saw on another thread that you were also considering Oxbridge for their MPhil's too and that you're doing PPE at LSE, so I'll condense answers to both your posts into one response. I've been through the MSc/MPhil process for most of these unis so hopefully I can help based on what my impressions were.

Firstly, if money is very tight then a lot of these courses will be very expensive (>30k+) apart from Durham and St Andrews. I didn't apply to St Andrews because their postgrad Econ programs are basically unknown and aren't strong at all so I wouldn't recommend it. Durham is a lot less strong for postgrad than it is for undergrad. Durham is top 10 for economics at UG but at PG it's barely top 20 if that so I wouldn't recommend it. The only thing Durham has got going for it is that it has colleges and it seems like they give economics scholarships to even average people which can be handy if funding is tight for you.

The 5 you should really be focusing on is LSE, Oxford, UCL, Cambridge and Warwick for master's level economics in the UK. Again the costs differ significantly (ox will cost you ~60k total as it's two years long) whereas the cheapest will be Cambridge, Warwick and UCL that will cost about 35k including living costs for the year.

It's difficult to give good advice without knowing which areas of economics you're interested in and which graduate roles you're looking to obtain because different unis have different topic specialisms and graduate placement records for different job sectors.

In general though the rankings, in terms of course rigor are broadly LSE > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge >= Warwick. I'd put Cambridge above Warwick completely if you're planning on applying to the MPhil in Economic Research rather than the normal MPhil but just the normal one is barely better than Warwick.

In terms of specialisms, LSE and Oxford are fairly general in that they're quite good at most things. UCL is definitely the best at microeconomics and microeconometrics. Warwick is pretty good at macro-finance for example.

Happy to answer any questions you've got on MSc in economics courses in general :smile:
Reply 2
Original post by BenRyan99
I saw on another thread that you were also considering Oxbridge for their MPhil's too and that you're doing PPE at LSE, so I'll condense answers to both your posts into one response. I've been through the MSc/MPhil process for most of these unis so hopefully I can help based on what my impressions were.

Firstly, if money is very tight then a lot of these courses will be very expensive (>30k+) apart from Durham and St Andrews. I didn't apply to St Andrews because their postgrad Econ programs are basically unknown and aren't strong at all so I wouldn't recommend it. Durham is a lot less strong for postgrad than it is for undergrad. Durham is top 10 for economics at UG but at PG it's barely top 20 if that so I wouldn't recommend it. The only thing Durham has got going for it is that it has colleges and it seems like they give economics scholarships to even average people which can be handy if funding is tight for you.

The 5 you should really be focusing on is LSE, Oxford, UCL, Cambridge and Warwick for master's level economics in the UK. Again the costs differ significantly (ox will cost you ~60k total as it's two years long) whereas the cheapest will be Cambridge, Warwick and UCL that will cost about 35k including living costs for the year.

It's difficult to give good advice without knowing which areas of economics you're interested in and which graduate roles you're looking to obtain because different unis have different topic specialisms and graduate placement records for different job sectors.

In general though the rankings, in terms of course rigor are broadly LSE > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge >= Warwick. I'd put Cambridge above Warwick completely if you're planning on applying to the MPhil in Economic Research rather than the normal MPhil but just the normal one is barely better than Warwick.

In terms of specialisms, LSE and Oxford are fairly general in that they're quite good at most things. UCL is definitely the best at microeconomics and microeconometrics. Warwick is pretty good at macro-finance for example.

Happy to answer any questions you've got on MSc in economics courses in general :smile:

Hey thought I would reply to this as I am considering my two main options for my Economics MSc. My final choices are Edinburgh vs Warwick.

I was wondering about your opinions regarding these institutions as you seem to be very knowledgeable. The key factor is differentiating these courses for me is price Edinburgh £12k and Warwick £24k. This seems a massive differential. Considering Edinburgh is well respected at masters level, although not as much as Warwick, is it a better choice to go there? Further student life and work life balance may be better for me in comparison to Warwick. However Warwick has a higher quality of research and might be more respected when applying for those first few positions.

What would you say is the magnitude of difference between these two? Is is worth the extra money?

I think really I want to go to Edinburgh but worry turning down Warwick might be a mistake in terms of career (I'm pursuing economics as a career path).

Any thoughts/advice would be gratefully received!
Original post by ac2154
Hey thought I would reply to this as I am considering my two main options for my Economics MSc. My final choices are Edinburgh vs Warwick.

I was wondering about your opinions regarding these institutions as you seem to be very knowledgeable. The key factor is differentiating these courses for me is price Edinburgh £12k and Warwick £24k. This seems a massive differential. Considering Edinburgh is well respected at masters level, although not as much as Warwick, is it a better choice to go there? Further student life and work life balance may be better for me in comparison to Warwick. However Warwick has a higher quality of research and might be more respected when applying for those first few positions.

What would you say is the magnitude of difference between these two? Is is worth the extra money?

I think really I want to go to Edinburgh but worry turning down Warwick might be a mistake in terms of career (I'm pursuing economics as a career path).

Any thoughts/advice would be gratefully received!

Firstly, I wouldn't worry too much as both are great institutions so you really can't go to wrong. I actually have a few friends who faced this same dilemma this year, got offers from Warwick and UCL but wasn't sure if they were worth the extra 10k compared with the next best group of MSc courses, they ended up going to Nottingham as it's probably the 6th best after the elite 5 and would be 10k+ cheaper.

I'm trying to think about what I researched about Edinburgh because I also got an offer from there this year. It was in the same price range as the rest of the tier 2 MSc Economics courses like Notts, Edinburgh, Bristol, etc. I remember it being strong in labour economics if that happens to take your fancy, think it's their specialism, they also had a fair few metrics modules with even a whole module devoted to bayesian methods if I remember correctly so maybe you're interested by that?

Naturally I reckoned the quality of life would've been much higher at Edinburgh so that could be a factor. Personally I had a great social life at undergrad so didn't really factor in qol in my master's decisions, mainly the course content and career prospects really but can understand why it would be important to most. Warwick's location isn't great, Edinburgh would be much nicer and you're right in saying that Warwick's course is better known and would likely have slightly better career prospects.

It sorta depends on what you wanna do in economics after the master's. If you wanna do a PhD I'd definitely go with Warwick, if you wanna work abroad then I'd go with Edinburgh. If you wanna be a government economist (GES or BoE) then I don't think it matters and just go wherever you feel more comfortable. If you want to go into economic consulting then Warwick might give a very slight edge but it wouldn't be a massive difference. If you wanna go into an international organisation (e.g. IMF, WB, UN, WTO, IFC, EBRD, etc) then it's highly likely you'll need a PhD so refer to my previous answer. If you wanna go into economic research at a bank or asset manager, these roles tend to hire economists with at least a year or two of macro experience so the best bet would be to go into the GES, BoE or macro consulting for a couple years first.

Fundamentally though I'd base my decision on a combination of career prospects and the modules they offer and how these fit with your personal interests, plus quality of life if that's important for just a year. Master's degrees are short and expensive so you really wanna make the most them, so being interested in the course content is so vital, this is what I mainly based my own decision on. I'd have a thorough look through what they're offering and which fit your interests and what you wanna do as a career.

Maybe this has helped, maybe it hasn't, hopefully it has though lol. Always happy to answer any further questions you've got. I'm no fountain of objective knowledge and truth on this topic but often it's helpful to hear other perspectives, experiences and to see another's thought processes
Reply 4
Original post by BenRyan99
Firstly, I wouldn't worry too much as both are great institutions so you really can't go to wrong. I actually have a few friends who faced this same dilemma this year, got offers from Warwick and UCL but wasn't sure if they were worth the extra 10k compared with the next best group of MSc courses, they ended up going to Nottingham as it's probably the 6th best after the elite 5 and would be 10k+ cheaper.

I'm trying to think about what I researched about Edinburgh because I also got an offer from there this year. It was in the same price range as the rest of the tier 2 MSc Economics courses like Notts, Edinburgh, Bristol, etc. I remember it being strong in labour economics if that happens to take your fancy, think it's their specialism, they also had a fair few metrics modules with even a whole module devoted to bayesian methods if I remember correctly so maybe you're interested by that?

Naturally I reckoned the quality of life would've been much higher at Edinburgh so that could be a factor. Personally I had a great social life at undergrad so didn't really factor in qol in my master's decisions, mainly the course content and career prospects really but can understand why it would be important to most. Warwick's location isn't great, Edinburgh would be much nicer and you're right in saying that Warwick's course is better known and would likely have slightly better career prospects.

It sorta depends on what you wanna do in economics after the master's. If you wanna do a PhD I'd definitely go with Warwick, if you wanna work abroad then I'd go with Edinburgh. If you wanna be a government economist (GES or BoE) then I don't think it matters and just go wherever you feel more comfortable. If you want to go into economic consulting then Warwick might give a very slight edge but it wouldn't be a massive difference. If you wanna go into an international organisation (e.g. IMF, WB, UN, WTO, IFC, EBRD, etc) then it's highly likely you'll need a PhD so refer to my previous answer. If you wanna go into economic research at a bank or asset manager, these roles tend to hire economists with at least a year or two of macro experience so the best bet would be to go into the GES, BoE or macro consulting for a couple years first.

Fundamentally though I'd base my decision on a combination of career prospects and the modules they offer and how these fit with your personal interests, plus quality of life if that's important for just a year. Master's degrees are short and expensive so you really wanna make the most them, so being interested in the course content is so vital, this is what I mainly based my own decision on. I'd have a thorough look through what they're offering and which fit your interests and what you wanna do as a career.

Maybe this has helped, maybe it hasn't, hopefully it has though lol. Always happy to answer any further questions you've got. I'm no fountain of objective knowledge and truth on this topic but often it's helpful to hear other perspectives, experiences and to see another's thought processes

Hey this is a great detailed response echoing a lot of my own thoughts and actually is useful in helping me clear my head! Thanks!
Reply 5
Original post by BenRyan99
I saw on another thread that you were also considering Oxbridge for their MPhil's too and that you're doing PPE at LSE, so I'll condense answers to both your posts into one response. I've been through the MSc/MPhil process for most of these unis so hopefully I can help based on what my impressions were.

Firstly, if money is very tight then a lot of these courses will be very expensive (>30k+) apart from Durham and St Andrews. I didn't apply to St Andrews because their postgrad Econ programs are basically unknown and aren't strong at all so I wouldn't recommend it. Durham is a lot less strong for postgrad than it is for undergrad. Durham is top 10 for economics at UG but at PG it's barely top 20 if that so I wouldn't recommend it. The only thing Durham has got going for it is that it has colleges and it seems like they give economics scholarships to even average people which can be handy if funding is tight for you.

The 5 you should really be focusing on is LSE, Oxford, UCL, Cambridge and Warwick for master's level economics in the UK. Again the costs differ significantly (ox will cost you ~60k total as it's two years long) whereas the cheapest will be Cambridge, Warwick and UCL that will cost about 35k including living costs for the year.

It's difficult to give good advice without knowing which areas of economics you're interested in and which graduate roles you're looking to obtain because different unis have different topic specialisms and graduate placement records for different job sectors.

In general though the rankings, in terms of course rigor are broadly LSE > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge >= Warwick. I'd put Cambridge above Warwick completely if you're planning on applying to the MPhil in Economic Research rather than the normal MPhil but just the normal one is barely better than Warwick.

In terms of specialisms, LSE and Oxford are fairly general in that they're quite good at most things. UCL is definitely the best at microeconomics and microeconometrics. Warwick is pretty good at macro-finance for example.

Happy to answer any questions you've got on MSc in economics courses in general :smile:

Thanks so much this was such a detailed and well thought out response. I had a feeling that Durham and St Andrew’s might be less strong for post grad. I would like to get out of London for a year so Oxford or Cambridge would be ideal, but I’m not sure about my chances of getting in. I’ll definitely apply to UCL and LSE as well. Out of curiosity, where did you end up?
Original post by __Khaleesi
Thanks so much this was such a detailed and well thought out response. I had a feeling that Durham and St Andrew’s might be less strong for post grad. I would like to get out of London for a year so Oxford or Cambridge would be ideal, but I’m not sure about my chances of getting in. I’ll definitely apply to UCL and LSE as well. Out of curiosity, where did you end up?

I stayed at LSE, felt like it was the best postgrad department overall and was also most suited to me
Reply 7
Original post by BenRyan99
I stayed at LSE, felt like it was the best postgrad department overall and was also most suited to me

That makes a lot of sense. How did you find the program?
Original post by __Khaleesi
That makes a lot of sense. How did you find the program?

The right ratio of maths and economics imo, was a natural but steep progression from the EME and M+E undergrad courses. Seemed like most straight econ undergrads found the quant stuff hard whilst a lot of STEM undergrads found the Econ tough so it definitely helps going in with a Econ+metrics or Maths+Econ undergrad
Reply 9
Original post by BenRyan99
Firstly, I wouldn't worry too much as both are great institutions so you really can't go to wrong. I actually have a few friends who faced this same dilemma this year, got offers from Warwick and UCL but wasn't sure if they were worth the extra 10k compared with the next best group of MSc courses, they ended up going to Nottingham as it's probably the 6th best after the elite 5 and would be 10k+ cheaper.

I'm trying to think about what I researched about Edinburgh because I also got an offer from there this year. It was in the same price range as the rest of the tier 2 MSc Economics courses like Notts, Edinburgh, Bristol, etc. I remember it being strong in labour economics if that happens to take your fancy, think it's their specialism, they also had a fair few metrics modules with even a whole module devoted to bayesian methods if I remember correctly so maybe you're interested by that?

Naturally I reckoned the quality of life would've been much higher at Edinburgh so that could be a factor. Personally I had a great social life at undergrad so didn't really factor in qol in my master's decisions, mainly the course content and career prospects really but can understand why it would be important to most. Warwick's location isn't great, Edinburgh would be much nicer and you're right in saying that Warwick's course is better known and would likely have slightly better career prospects.

It sorta depends on what you wanna do in economics after the master's. If you wanna do a PhD I'd definitely go with Warwick, if you wanna work abroad then I'd go with Edinburgh. If you wanna be a government economist (GES or BoE) then I don't think it matters and just go wherever you feel more comfortable. If you want to go into economic consulting then Warwick might give a very slight edge but it wouldn't be a massive difference. If you wanna go into an international organisation (e.g. IMF, WB, UN, WTO, IFC, EBRD, etc) then it's highly likely you'll need a PhD so refer to my previous answer. If you wanna go into economic research at a bank or asset manager, these roles tend to hire economists with at least a year or two of macro experience so the best bet would be to go into the GES, BoE or macro consulting for a couple years first.

Fundamentally though I'd base my decision on a combination of career prospects and the modules they offer and how these fit with your personal interests, plus quality of life if that's important for just a year. Master's degrees are short and expensive so you really wanna make the most them, so being interested in the course content is so vital, this is what I mainly based my own decision on. I'd have a thorough look through what they're offering and which fit your interests and what you wanna do as a career.

Maybe this has helped, maybe it hasn't, hopefully it has though lol. Always happy to answer any further questions you've got. I'm no fountain of objective knowledge and truth on this topic but often it's helpful to hear other perspectives, experiences and to see another's thought processes

so..i want to know the complete list of tier 2 MSc Economics and tier 3, can you help me? Because I don't think that i can get offer in tier 1. Also, if i did msc in tier 2, am i still getting chance to pursue PhD? thank you
Original post by reog
so..i want to know the complete list of tier 2 MSc Economics and tier 3, can you help me? Because I don't think that i can get offer in tier 1. Also, if i did msc in tier 2, am i still getting chance to pursue PhD? thank you

Okay so this is what I've sort of gathered from looking at all of their MSc Econ syllabuses and career prospects for a fairly long time. Worth noting that this is still simply my view on it all and there isn't some objective truth on the matter as different institutions are better for different topic areas within Econ so bare that in mind but I'll give my overall rankings.

Tier 1:
LSE (EME > Econ) > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge (Econ Research > Econ) > Warwick.

Tier 2:
Nottingham (E+E and Econ) > Edinburgh > Exeter (MRes not the MSc's) > Manchester > Bristol > QMUL

Tier 3:
Southampton = Bath > Essex = Surrey = Durham > Glasgow (MRes not MSc's) > King's = St Andrews > Loughborough = Birmingham >= everything else.

Hope I haven't missed any. Tbh I'm less sure of some of the ones in my tier 3, it's quite hard to compare them and I wouldn't recommend considering any apart from Southampton (actually quite strong), Bath (good but definitely not as good as it's UG rep), Essex (postgrad is much better than UG rep) and Surrey (for macro only). I'm more sure of my tier 1 and 2 lists but again this is just my interpretation of doing research on them all.

You'd definitely have a shot at a PhD after doing a tier 2 MSc, but where that PhD would be I'm less sure. Some are able to upgrade to tier 1 but I'd probably say there's a higher chance of the PhD being at a tier 2. UK PhDs get quite a lot of European applicants plus some RoW applicants so it's much harder than MSc applications. For example, it's pretty hard to get a LSE PhD offer even if you were to do your master's at LSE so yeah PhD is harder. Plus it sorta depends what you want from a PhD, if you want an average to decent UK assistant professor entry role then you definitely need to be targeting a tier 1 PhD as a minimum. If you want to go into industry or an international organisation after a PhD then tier 2 is absolutely fine, even some of the tier 3's might be good enough, especially if that uni's Econ department specialises in your area of econ (Southampton for econometrics, Surrey for macro, etc). Hope this helps.
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by BenRyan99
Okay so this is what I've sort of gathered from looking at all of their MSc Econ syllabuses and career prospects for a fairly long time. Worth noting that this is still simply my view on it all and there isn't some objective truth on the matter as different institutions are better for different topic areas within Econ so bare that in mind but I'll give my overall rankings.

Tier 1:
LSE (EME > Econ) > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge (Econ Research > Econ) > Warwick.

Tier 2:
Nottingham (E+E and Econ) > Edinburgh > Exeter (MRes not the MSc's) > Manchester > Bristol > QMUL

Tier 3:
Southampton = Bath > Essex = Surrey = Durham > Glasgow (MRes not MSc's) > King's = St Andrews > Loughborough = Birmingham >= everything else.

Hope I haven't missed any. Tbh I'm less sure of some of the ones in my tier 3, it's quite hard to compare them and I wouldn't recommend considering any apart from Southampton (actually quite strong), Bath (good but definitely not as good as it's UG rep), Essex (postgrad is much better than UG rep) and Surrey (for macro only). I'm more sure of my tier 1 and 2 lists but again this is just my interpretation of doing research on them all.

You'd definitely have a shot at a PhD after doing a tier 2 MSc, but where that PhD would be I'm less sure. Some are able to upgrade to tier 1 but I'd probably say there's a higher chance of the PhD being at a tier 2. UK PhDs get quite a lot of European applicants plus some RoW applicants so it's much harder than MSc applications. For example, it's pretty hard to get a LSE PhD offer even if you were to do your master's at LSE so yeah PhD is harder. Plus it sorta depends what you want from a PhD, if you want an average to decent UK assistant professor entry role then you definitely need to be targeting a tier 1 PhD as a minimum. If you want to go into industry or an international organisation after a PhD then tier 2 is absolutely fine, even some of the tier 3's might be good enough, especially if that uni's Econ department specialises in your area of econ (Southampton for econometrics, Surrey for macro, etc). Hope this helps.

hey, how would i obtain funding from doing a masters that costs 35k excluding living costs? student finance gives loans up to 10k, how do I cover the short-fall? thanks
Original post by jimatteo3
hey, how would i obtain funding from doing a masters that costs 35k excluding living costs? student finance gives loans up to 10k, how do I cover the short-fall? thanks

In short: you either have to be very very clever to get a scholarship, or very very rich haha.

They're full-time courses so you can't do them over two years part-time, or work in the evenings. Some use earnings from summer internships at banks to fund it, some work for a year or two to save for it. And yes, I know it's an unfair world regrettably. The prices get driven up by international students and the fact that people with these degrees can go onto earn a packet working in finance afterwards.
Reply 13
Original post by BenRyan99
Okay so this is what I've sort of gathered from looking at all of their MSc Econ syllabuses and career prospects for a fairly long time. Worth noting that this is still simply my view on it all and there isn't some objective truth on the matter as different institutions are better for different topic areas within Econ so bare that in mind but I'll give my overall rankings.

Tier 1:
LSE (EME > Econ) > UCL > Oxford > Cambridge (Econ Research > Econ) > Warwick.

Tier 2:
Nottingham (E+E and Econ) > Edinburgh > Exeter (MRes not the MSc's) > Manchester > Bristol > QMUL

Tier 3:
Southampton = Bath > Essex = Surrey = Durham > Glasgow (MRes not MSc's) > King's = St Andrews > Loughborough = Birmingham >= everything else.

Hope I haven't missed any. Tbh I'm less sure of some of the ones in my tier 3, it's quite hard to compare them and I wouldn't recommend considering any apart from Southampton (actually quite strong), Bath (good but definitely not as good as it's UG rep), Essex (postgrad is much better than UG rep) and Surrey (for macro only). I'm more sure of my tier 1 and 2 lists but again this is just my interpretation of doing research on them all.

You'd definitely have a shot at a PhD after doing a tier 2 MSc, but where that PhD would be I'm less sure. Some are able to upgrade to tier 1 but I'd probably say there's a higher chance of the PhD being at a tier 2. UK PhDs get quite a lot of European applicants plus some RoW applicants so it's much harder than MSc applications. For example, it's pretty hard to get a LSE PhD offer even if you were to do your master's at LSE so yeah PhD is harder. Plus it sorta depends what you want from a PhD, if you want an average to decent UK assistant professor entry role then you definitely need to be targeting a tier 1 PhD as a minimum. If you want to go into industry or an international organisation after a PhD then tier 2 is absolutely fine, even some of the tier 3's might be good enough, especially if that uni's Econ department specialises in your area of econ (Southampton for econometrics, Surrey for macro, etc). Hope this helps.

Hey, so I want your opinion on my situation as it seems you have done some research regarding economic master programs.

So far, I have applied to both St Andrews MSc Economics program and Cambridge MPhil in Economics. I have received an unconditional offer from St Andrews and await a response from Cambridge. If I receive an offer from Cambridge, that is likely the course I will be going with.

But knowing how competitive it is, I have dwindled my options down to three universities providing an MSc Economics course. However, I am conflicted about which one to choose. My choices come down to St Andrews, which I already hold an offer; Durham, which I hope to apply to by the end of this month; and Edinburgh SPGE MSc economic course, which I also aim to apply by the end of this month.

The three core things I am looking for are a rigorous and well-taught course that will excel my skills and practices, a great institution that will highlight my CV and help with job prospects mainly within the economic field and the financial field. Lastly, a great social experience (for a postgrad student) as my undergraduate social life took a severe hit during covid. I would like to somewhat enjoy my last year as a student (knowing full well I will bombard with lots of work, I still want a good balance).

This is what I know of each university from individuals and my own independent research:

St Andrews:
- It has an amazing social life, one of the best according to student surveys, individual students and general reviews
- It has an amazing reputation, and among UK university rankings (which I feel is more accurate because it does not base its reviews based on institution size and output, unlike world rankings), it ranks among the top universities, even edging Oxbridge at times - knowing full well most of these rankings are based on undergraduate studies.
- However, its course is quite lacklustre for a top institution and was not as rigorous or well taught as one might expect (a student told me this of 2020/21 class who is pursuing a PhD in Economics at Edinburgh and ranked number 1 among her master's cohort at St Andrew's)

Durham:
- Also has a great social life but depends on the individual preference and what college you end up at. Since Durham is notorious for its upper-class demographic, this is off-putting for someone but not so much for me as I don't have an issue with socialising among any group. It also has amazing sports facilities and societies which seem great!
- Again, it has an amazing reputation and also ranks highly like St Andrews (UK ranking)
- The course from a current student I know attending finds it rigorous and somewhat well taught but feels there is not much diversity in the optional modules. It does have good support, and since it is a semi-target university, especially for financial vocations, it seems promising.

SPGE Edinburgh:
- Again, Edinburgh has a great social life, is a bigger city and seems like a fun place in general.
- It also ranks highly but not on Durham or St Andrews level, which is slightly off-putting since I wonder if it would hold as much weight taking it into the job market.
- The course seems great and has many optional modules and diversity. But it seems to be geared towards a PhD progression (which I don't currently plan on doing). This means it is quite research-based and shows it's quite rigorous. I was recommended this by the individual who found St Andrews to be slightly disappointing.

There is very little information regarding master courses and thus makes it hard to really tell which is better as you hear different opinions and reviews.

Based on my limited knowledge and especially my knowledge regarding the courses and how well they are taught, I have stated could be far from the truth and is merely based on sparse internet reviews and one or two individual interactions. So if anyone has personal experiences or more insight on any of the institutions and their courses, it would be much appreciated.

I want to make the best decision to have the best masters experience and the best prospects following the masters.
Original post by Has_kid
Hey, so I want your opinion on my situation as it seems you have done some research regarding economic master programs.

So far, I have applied to both St Andrews MSc Economics program and Cambridge MPhil in Economics. I have received an unconditional offer from St Andrews and await a response from Cambridge. If I receive an offer from Cambridge, that is likely the course I will be going with.

But knowing how competitive it is, I have dwindled my options down to three universities providing an MSc Economics course. However, I am conflicted about which one to choose. My choices come down to St Andrews, which I already hold an offer; Durham, which I hope to apply to by the end of this month; and Edinburgh SPGE MSc economic course, which I also aim to apply by the end of this month.

The three core things I am looking for are a rigorous and well-taught course that will excel my skills and practices, a great institution that will highlight my CV and help with job prospects mainly within the economic field and the financial field. Lastly, a great social experience (for a postgrad student) as my undergraduate social life took a severe hit during covid. I would like to somewhat enjoy my last year as a student (knowing full well I will bombard with lots of work, I still want a good balance).

This is what I know of each university from individuals and my own independent research:

St Andrews:
- It has an amazing social life, one of the best according to student surveys, individual students and general reviews
- It has an amazing reputation, and among UK university rankings (which I feel is more accurate because it does not base its reviews based on institution size and output, unlike world rankings), it ranks among the top universities, even edging Oxbridge at times - knowing full well most of these rankings are based on undergraduate studies.
- However, its course is quite lacklustre for a top institution and was not as rigorous or well taught as one might expect (a student told me this of 2020/21 class who is pursuing a PhD in Economics at Edinburgh and ranked number 1 among her master's cohort at St Andrew's)

Durham:
- Also has a great social life but depends on the individual preference and what college you end up at. Since Durham is notorious for its upper-class demographic, this is off-putting for someone but not so much for me as I don't have an issue with socialising among any group. It also has amazing sports facilities and societies which seem great!
- Again, it has an amazing reputation and also ranks highly like St Andrews (UK ranking)
- The course from a current student I know attending finds it rigorous and somewhat well taught but feels there is not much diversity in the optional modules. It does have good support, and since it is a semi-target university, especially for financial vocations, it seems promising.

SPGE Edinburgh:
- Again, Edinburgh has a great social life, is a bigger city and seems like a fun place in general.
- It also ranks highly but not on Durham or St Andrews level, which is slightly off-putting since I wonder if it would hold as much weight taking it into the job market.
- The course seems great and has many optional modules and diversity. But it seems to be geared towards a PhD progression (which I don't currently plan on doing). This means it is quite research-based and shows it's quite rigorous. I was recommended this by the individual who found St Andrews to be slightly disappointing.

There is very little information regarding master courses and thus makes it hard to really tell which is better as you hear different opinions and reviews.

Based on my limited knowledge and especially my knowledge regarding the courses and how well they are taught, I have stated could be far from the truth and is merely based on sparse internet reviews and one or two individual interactions. So if anyone has personal experiences or more insight on any of the institutions and their courses, it would be much appreciated.

I want to make the best decision to have the best masters experience and the best prospects following the masters.

For some reason I've only just seen this question (3 months late haha). Well if you're still deciding (unlikely) then I'd go with Cambridge obviously but if not that then Cambridge > Edinburgh > Durham = St Andrews

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