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E&M at Oxford v.s. Economics at Cambridge

Hi! I'm a student studying in UK and moving up to Year 13 in Sept. My A-level subjects are economics, mathematics, further maths and physics. I'm deciding between E&M at Oxford or Econs at Cambridge. #uni application

- I've been always thinking of applying to Oxford E&M as I think it's a more comprehensive course than Cambridge and I've been to the open day in late June which I found quite enjoyable.
- However, economics at Cambridge seems to be more mathematical which is definitely a better suit for me.
- For other unis, I'd like to apply to Maths, Statistics and business for LSE and Statistics, economics and finance for UCL. Therefore, from an overall profile, Cambridge might be a better choice? (p.s. I've seen posts here saying E&M involves a huge amount of essay writing in the first year and I absolutely HATE writing, but I'm not sure for the second and the third year we are allowed to pick courses that are more related to maths. Can anyone who has taken this course or graduated from E&M provide me with some information about it?)

- Oxford weighs TSA a lot; literally feel like as long as I achieve a super good score in tsa, I have a 70% chance of being able to get in lol, plus they put personal statements at a low priority. I'm not quite clear on how Cambridge weighs the TMUA test and other evidence. I'm personally a student who is good at sitting tests.

- There are two other students at my school who also plan to apply to study economics at Cambridge University. As an international student, I am concerned that I am not at an advantage compared to these two citizens. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Cambridge will accept more than one student from the same school for the same course. (at least this has never happened at my school before.)

- I've nearly finished the first draft of my personal statements and I would say 80% is about statistics and economics, plus some finance. I don't plan on altering the themes, as the topics I wrote about are the ones that I found most enjoyable.

I will be really grateful for any information or suggestions provided! xx
Course Preference: Since you prefer maths, consider Cambridge Econs. But if you want a broader education, go for Oxford E&M. Maybe check out the modules and see what you fancy.

Essay Writing: If you dread writing essays, Oxford E&M might be tough. But it's not forever - you can choose more math-heavy modules later.

Exams: As an ace test taker, you're golden for both unis. Oxford leans heavily on TSA, but a good TMUA score for Cambridge can boost your chances too.

Competition at school: Don't sweat over others applying for the same course. It's not like there's a quota per school. Just focus on making your application stand out!

Personal Statement: If it's about what you love, it's perfect! But do make sure it aligns well with the course you're applying for.

Practice Interviews: Mock interviews are a lifesaver. Prep as much as you can!

Backup Choices: Your LSE and UCL choices sound spot on. They'd be great places to study too
Original post by ath3131
Hi! I'm a student studying in UK and moving up to Year 13 in Sept. My A-level subjects are economics, mathematics, further maths and physics. I'm deciding between E&M at Oxford or Econs at Cambridge. #uni application

- I've been always thinking of applying to Oxford E&M as I think it's a more comprehensive course than Cambridge and I've been to the open day in late June which I found quite enjoyable.
- However, economics at Cambridge seems to be more mathematical which is definitely a better suit for me.
- For other unis, I'd like to apply to Maths, Statistics and business for LSE and Statistics, economics and finance for UCL. Therefore, from an overall profile, Cambridge might be a better choice? (p.s. I've seen posts here saying E&M involves a huge amount of essay writing in the first year and I absolutely HATE writing, but I'm not sure for the second and the third year we are allowed to pick courses that are more related to maths. Can anyone who has taken this course or graduated from E&M provide me with some information about it?)

- Oxford weighs TSA a lot; literally feel like as long as I achieve a super good score in tsa, I have a 70% chance of being able to get in lol, plus they put personal statements at a low priority. I'm not quite clear on how Cambridge weighs the TMUA test and other evidence. I'm personally a student who is good at sitting tests.

- There are two other students at my school who also plan to apply to study economics at Cambridge University. As an international student, I am concerned that I am not at an advantage compared to these two citizens. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Cambridge will accept more than one student from the same school for the same course. (at least this has never happened at my school before.)

- I've nearly finished the first draft of my personal statements and I would say 80% is about statistics and economics, plus some finance. I don't plan on altering the themes, as the topics I wrote about are the ones that I found most enjoyable.

I will be really grateful for any information or suggestions provided! xx

Think there are a couple of points that haven't been mentioned so far. Firstly, sure economics at Cambridge is more mathematical, but when you look through the module lists, Cambridge put a lot of emphasis on subject areas like economic history, political economy and public economics. Given these areas are very essay oriented and are largely compulsory, you'll still be doing a lot of essays in Cambridge's economics course. And in some ways, the more financial nature of E&M can lend itself to slightly less essays than you'd think. You're going to have to do vast quantities of essay writing at either, so I wouldn't focus on this aspect too much.

The second important point is on what you want to get out of your degree. Cambridge's economic is definitely the best straight economics undergraduate degree to become an economist once you graduate - every Cambridge grad I meet who's now a professional economist (either in the city or in public institutions) are incredibly well-read and well-rounded despite the mathematical nature of the course. For sure, Cambridge economics grads can also go into finance/consulting/politics/etc but the real value add is the prep to actually be an economist (which is a surprisingly rare ambition for university-level economics students. So the point is, the re benefit of Cambridge's course over E&M is largely predicated on becoming an economist afterwards, so if you think you're likely to go into finance for example, E&M would probably make more sense given the management/finance focus of the degree (and that it's partly based within Said Business School). So Cambridge is far more comprehensive within the field of economics, at Oxford you're trading-off some economics rigor to cover management/finance modules - though which option is preferable just depends on the candidate's interests and career goals

With respect to the personal statement, this sounds fine to me. Just make sure you have enough economics content in there.
Reply 3
Original post by EconStudentUK
Course Preference: Since you prefer maths, consider Cambridge Econs. But if you want a broader education, go for Oxford E&M. Maybe check out the modules and see what you fancy.

Essay Writing: If you dread writing essays, Oxford E&M might be tough. But it's not forever - you can choose more math-heavy modules later.

Exams: As an ace test taker, you're golden for both unis. Oxford leans heavily on TSA, but a good TMUA score for Cambridge can boost your chances too.

Competition at school: Don't sweat over others applying for the same course. It's not like there's a quota per school. Just focus on making your application stand out!

Personal Statement: If it's about what you love, it's perfect! But do make sure it aligns well with the course you're applying for.

Practice Interviews: Mock interviews are a lifesaver. Prep as much as you can!

Backup Choices: Your LSE and UCL choices sound spot on. They'd be great places to study too


Thank you for your advice!
Reply 4
Original post by BenRyan99
Think there are a couple of points that haven't been mentioned so far. Firstly, sure economics at Cambridge is more mathematical, but when you look through the module lists, Cambridge put a lot of emphasis on subject areas like economic history, political economy and public economics. Given these areas are very essay oriented and are largely compulsory, you'll still be doing a lot of essays in Cambridge's economics course. And in some ways, the more financial nature of E&M can lend itself to slightly less essays than you'd think. You're going to have to do vast quantities of essay writing at either, so I wouldn't focus on this aspect too much.

The second important point is on what you want to get out of your degree. Cambridge's economic is definitely the best straight economics undergraduate degree to become an economist once you graduate - every Cambridge grad I meet who's now a professional economist (either in the city or in public institutions) are incredibly well-read and well-rounded despite the mathematical nature of the course. For sure, Cambridge economics grads can also go into finance/consulting/politics/etc but the real value add is the prep to actually be an economist (which is a surprisingly rare ambition for university-level economics students. So the point is, the re benefit of Cambridge's course over E&M is largely predicated on becoming an economist afterwards, so if you think you're likely to go into finance for example, E&M would probably make more sense given the management/finance focus of the degree (and that it's partly based within Said Business School). So Cambridge is far more comprehensive within the field of economics, at Oxford you're trading-off some economics rigor to cover management/finance modules - though which option is preferable just depends on the candidate's interests and career goals

With respect to the personal statement, this sounds fine to me. Just make sure you have enough economics content in there.



Thank you so much for the provided information; it has been very helpful. Yes, the reason I prefer the Oxford E&M course is that it appears to align better with my career goal of working in the financial sector. Additionally, I find the topics listed on Oxford's module list more appealing to me than those of Cambridge. I did experience some confusion initially. But I will still choose Oxford as my first choice from now on.

Regarding my course choices for other universities, do you think they are fine, or do you have any further suggestions? Additionally, I would appreciate any tips on crafting an outstanding personal statement for these subjects :smile:
Hi, graduate from Oxford E&M here.

Just wanted to clarify regarding the course structure - in first year you take three modules (Introductory Econ, General Management, Financial Management). Introductory Econ and Financial Management are majority maths-heavy, General Management is purely essay based. It's roughly a 50-60% maths and 40-50% essay split, and with some of the exams (e.g. Introductory Econ) you can choose whether you want to answer more maths-based problem questions or more essays. In second and third year, you have to study at least 2 Econ & 2 Management modules, but other than meeting pre-requisites for technical modules (e.g. can't study Econometrics in third year without taking Quantitative Economics in second year), you have a very flexible choice. I know plenty of E&Mers who have taken 5 or 6 Econ modules and only 2 or 3 Management modules (from my experience this is probably the most common choice), and the majority of Econ modules are maths-based, and even a few of the Management papers (Finance, E&I, etc) can have numerical components. In essence: if you love maths, you can very much tailor the course to suit your needs. The above info is correct at the time of writing, but E&M's course structure is continuously reviewed and improved, and so do check the Admissions website to confirm.

As @BenRyan99 points out, Cambridge actually have more mandatory modules (and the requirement to do a dissertation), with less flexibility for studying optional papers. This is great if you want a well-rounded Economics education and the average Cambridge Economist will likely have studied more Economics than the average Oxford E&Mer, because E&M is a joint honours degree with fewer mandatory modules. Cambridge indeed has a strong reputation for technical Economics roles (Masters, Economic analysis/policy, etc) whilst Oxford E&M has a strong reputation for financial careers (consulting, banking, IB, etc). Ultimately, both courses can open the same doors - in Cambridge you can switch to Management, and even with a straight Economics degree you would be highly desirable for financial roles. Likewise, Oxford E&Mers who take the appropriate Economics modules are able to continue into Masters programmes at top Universities and remain in academia. Both are highly competitive to get into and have excellent prospects!

Personally for me, I love maths (and have always been stronger at it than essay subjects and I took Maths and FM as two of my A levels), but my favourite aspect is pure maths rather than statistics, and so I preferred the variety of Oxford's course rather than the higher mandatory emphasis on statistics that the Cambridge course has. I ended up actually taking more Management modules despite my love of maths, and the benefit of Oxford's course is that it is somewhat more 'applied' in the sense that Management focuses a bit more on real life examples and case studies, not just data and theory. Ultimately, both courses are fantastic and so I would encourage you to consider the course structure/available modules and also other differences such as e.g. the exam system - Oxford is more unforgiving as all your second and third year module exams are taken at the end of third year, over 2-3 weeks, and can be 100% exam based if you don't take one of the very few modules that has coursework (or do a dissertation).

As part of @Oxford Mum's project 'Oxford Demystified' I discussed the E&M admissions process in more detail offering some guidance for applicants based on my experience: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6424980

Hopefully this helps, and best of luck!
Original post by Mona123456
Hi, graduate from Oxford E&M here.

Just wanted to clarify regarding the course structure - in first year you take three modules (Introductory Econ, General Management, Financial Management). Introductory Econ and Financial Management are majority maths-heavy, General Management is purely essay based. It's roughly a 50-60% maths and 40-50% essay split, and with some of the exams (e.g. Introductory Econ) you can choose whether you want to answer more maths-based problem questions or more essays. In second and third year, you have to study at least 2 Econ & 2 Management modules, but other than meeting pre-requisites for technical modules (e.g. can't study Econometrics in third year without taking Quantitative Economics in second year), you have a very flexible choice. I know plenty of E&Mers who have taken 5 or 6 Econ modules and only 2 or 3 Management modules (from my experience this is probably the most common choice), and the majority of Econ modules are maths-based, and even a few of the Management papers (Finance, E&I, etc) can have numerical components. In essence: if you love maths, you can very much tailor the course to suit your needs. The above info is correct at the time of writing, but E&M's course structure is continuously reviewed and improved, and so do check the Admissions website to confirm.

As @BenRyan99 points out, Cambridge actually have more mandatory modules (and the requirement to do a dissertation), with less flexibility for studying optional papers. This is great if you want a well-rounded Economics education and the average Cambridge Economist will likely have studied more Economics than the average Oxford E&Mer, because E&M is a joint honours degree with fewer mandatory modules. Cambridge indeed has a strong reputation for technical Economics roles (Masters, Economic analysis/policy, etc) whilst Oxford E&M has a strong reputation for financial careers (consulting, banking, IB, etc). Ultimately, both courses can open the same doors - in Cambridge you can switch to Management, and even with a straight Economics degree you would be highly desirable for financial roles. Likewise, Oxford E&Mers who take the appropriate Economics modules are able to continue into Masters programmes at top Universities and remain in academia. Both are highly competitive to get into and have excellent prospects!

Personally for me, I love maths (and have always been stronger at it than essay subjects and I took Maths and FM as two of my A levels), but my favourite aspect is pure maths rather than statistics, and so I preferred the variety of Oxford's course rather than the higher mandatory emphasis on statistics that the Cambridge course has. I ended up actually taking more Management modules despite my love of maths, and the benefit of Oxford's course is that it is somewhat more 'applied' in the sense that Management focuses a bit more on real life examples and case studies, not just data and theory. Ultimately, both courses are fantastic and so I would encourage you to consider the course structure/available modules and also other differences such as e.g. the exam system - Oxford is more unforgiving as all your second and third year module exams are taken at the end of third year, over 2-3 weeks, and can be 100% exam based if you don't take one of the very few modules that has coursework (or do a dissertation).

As part of @Oxford Mum's project 'Oxford Demystified' I discussed the E&M admissions process in more detail offering some guidance for applicants based on my experience: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6424980

Hopefully this helps, and best of luck!


How are you, @Mona123456? Great to see you back on TSR!

One of the students I helped did get into Cambridge economics and ended up in banking. The banks hold events at Cambridge for those interested in banking and offer internships.

I also have a Cambridge demystified chapter for economics which I will post as soon as I can

and here it is:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7257682&p=97582252#post97582252
(edited 6 months ago)
Original post by Oxford Mum
How are you, @Mona123456? Great to see you back on TSR!

One of the students I helped did get into Cambridge economics and ended up in banking. The banks hold events at Cambridge for those interested in banking and offer internships.

I also have a Cambridge demystified chapter for economics which I will post as soon as I can

and here it is:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7257682&p=97582252#post97582252


Thank you, I'm keeping well! I've finished University now and am about to start my first job later this year. University really did fly by!

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