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Doubts about doing Economics at university.

I've applied for Economics BSc at LSE, Cambridge, Warwick, Bath and have an offer from Bristol for Economics and Maths, but even if I'm accepted into one of the target unis (warwick, cam, lse) I feel like Economics is too narrow. I've been enjoying (and been getting good at) maths lately, and I'm not sure whether to take a gap year and reapply for maths next year. Honestly the quantitative side of jobs really appeals to me, and idk if pure economics will get me there. (plus I feel like economics isn't respected as a science). I'd love to switch from pure Econ to Econ and Maths (apart from cambridge) but idk if the unis will let me if I go there - probably not.
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 1
Original post by yzven
I've applied for Economics BSc at LSE, Cambridge, Warwick, Bath and have an offer from Bristol for Economics and Maths, but even if I'm accepted into one of the target unis (warwick, cam, lse) I feel like Economics is too narrow. I've been enjoying (and been getting good at) maths lately, and I'm not sure whether to take a gap year and reapply for maths next year. Honestly the quantitative side of jobs really appeals to me, and idk if pure economics will get me there. (plus I feel like economics isn't respected as a science). I'd love to switch from pure Econ to Econ and Maths (apart from cambridge) but idk if the unis will let me if I go there - probably not.


In my opinion taking a gap year is a massive hit on time so why not stick with economics and pick up extra maths modules to get a joint math/econ degree. Alternatively, wait for offers and ask unis that accept you (if you meet the requirements for whichever maths course you want to do) if you do a total switch over to the maths course you want to. Often enough, after you have an offer, unis sound like they'll be flexible on this sort of stuff.
Reply 2
Most of these places are hugely maths-heavy anyway. Mix that in with some intermediate and advanced math econ and econometrics stuff and I think, actually, you will be fine.
Original post by Jam.123
In my opinion taking a gap year is a massive hit on time so why not stick with economics and pick up extra maths modules to get a joint math/econ degree. Alternatively, wait for offers and ask unis that accept you (if you meet the requirements for whichever maths course you want to do) if you do a total switch over to the maths course you want to. Often enough, after you have an offer, unis sound like they'll be flexible on this sort of stuff.

Yh I agree
Original post by yzven
I've applied for Economics BSc at LSE, Cambridge, Warwick, Bath and have an offer from Bristol for Economics and Maths, but even if I'm accepted into one of the target unis (warwick, cam, lse) I feel like Economics is too narrow. I've been enjoying (and been getting good at) maths lately, and I'm not sure whether to take a gap year and reapply for maths next year. Honestly the quantitative side of jobs really appeals to me, and idk if pure economics will get me there. (plus I feel like economics isn't respected as a science). I'd love to switch from pure Econ to Econ and Maths (apart from cambridge) but idk if the unis will let me if I go there - probably not.

I think you need to think about this sequentially really. First, while you've got the Bristol offer (which is also the joint degree you're interested in so congrats), you don't actually have any offers from these 'top' unis yet. So at the moment you're worrying about a hypothetical. Given how competitive these courses are, it may be a case where you don't even get these offers, I've seen people get 4A* (incl FM) and not get offers from any of the top unis. I'm sure you'll at least get some, but it's not worth overthinking when you don't even have those offers yet.

The second logical step is that if you do get the offers, do you want to do the courses. Here, I think it's worth noting how different university level economics is to A-level economics. They feel like almost completely different subjects. There's literally no maths beyond maybe % changes in a-level. At university, normally half your classes will be maths/stats/econometrics modules, the other half will be in stuff where usually the content is still very mathematical - e.g. there can be a tonne of very advanced maths in macroeconomics modules for example, especially in the latter years (i.e. certain growth or DSGE models). And this will be even more the case at the 'top' unis. So it's worth thinking about whether you're potentially wanting to sub out straight econ because you don't quite understand what it's actually like (not a dig, there's no reason why you would before starting uni).

Then it's only worth thinking about how to actually change, from straight econ to joint with maths, once you've got the offers and you've 100% decided that straight econ isn't for you. Then the next step would be to get in contact with the unis to ask if they have spaces for you to change and if you meet the standard. Often this is only really possible after results day, but you can try asking beforehand too (tho it's unlikely they'd know whether they have spaces at that point).

If that works then great. If not, and you're dead set on doing a econ maths joint degree, then one might start thinking about a gap year, whether a gap year is actually worth it, whether it's possible for you actually do anything useful in it (e.g. work experience in a relevant field, pickup a new skills like coding, travel, etc). But when you actually lay out the optimal sequence of decisions, there's literally no point thinking about gap years yet, you don't even have the offers or know whether you'd be able to transfer.
I think the above advice is important to consider - doing economics at degree level, especially as those unis, does not mean you are "dropping" maths. You will still very much be doing a lot of maths in the same vein as you have been doing in A-level.

In fact it is the maths half of the joint honours course at Bristol which will be totally unlike the kind of maths you've done at A-level and completely unfamiliar. "Pure maths" at A-level is what is referred to as mathematical methods at degree level. Pure maths at degree level is extremely abstract and almost wholly proof based.
Reply 6
Original post by BenRyan99
I think you need to think about this sequentially really. First, while you've got the Bristol offer (which is also the joint degree you're interested in so congrats), you don't actually have any offers from these 'top' unis yet. So at the moment you're worrying about a hypothetical. Given how competitive these courses are, it may be a case where you don't even get these offers, I've seen people get 4A* (incl FM) and not get offers from any of the top unis. I'm sure you'll at least get some, but it's not worth overthinking when you don't even have those offers yet.

The second logical step is that if you do get the offers, do you want to do the courses. Here, I think it's worth noting how different university level economics is to A-level economics. They feel like almost completely different subjects. There's literally no maths beyond maybe % changes in a-level. At university, normally half your classes will be maths/stats/econometrics modules, the other half will be in stuff where usually the content is still very mathematical - e.g. there can be a tonne of very advanced maths in macroeconomics modules for example, especially in the latter years (i.e. certain growth or DSGE models). And this will be even more the case at the 'top' unis. So it's worth thinking about whether you're potentially wanting to sub out straight econ because you don't quite understand what it's actually like (not a dig, there's no reason why you would before starting uni).

Then it's only worth thinking about how to actually change, from straight econ to joint with maths, once you've got the offers and you've 100% decided that straight econ isn't for you. Then the next step would be to get in contact with the unis to ask if they have spaces for you to change and if you meet the standard. Often this is only really possible after results day, but you can try asking beforehand too (tho it's unlikely they'd know whether they have spaces at that point).

If that works then great. If not, and you're dead set on doing a econ maths joint degree, then one might start thinking about a gap year, whether a gap year is actually worth it, whether it's possible for you actually do anything useful in it (e.g. work experience in a relevant field, pickup a new skills like coding, travel, etc). But when you actually lay out the optimal sequence of decisions, there's literally no point thinking about gap years yet, you don't even have the offers or know whether you'd be able to transfer.

Thanks for the insight, really helpful. Do you have any examples of well-paid quantitative careers which I can explore/research with an economics degree from one of these unis? I am definitely planning on taking all the optional mathematical modules at whichever uni I go to for economics, and I hope to build projects, learn some more Python etc.
Reply 7
Original post by yzven
Thanks for the insight, really helpful. Do you have any examples of well-paid quantitative careers which I can explore/research with an economics degree from one of these unis? I am definitely planning on taking all the optional mathematical modules at whichever uni I go to for economics, and I hope to build projects, learn some more Python etc.


Is it really a good idea to go into uni laser focused on one subset of potential career options offered to graduates of that career or just mindlessly chasing money from the start? Enjoy the experience, in first year attend some careers fairs and look at what modules you can take to get into interesting jobs and so on. For the most quantitative careers, I imagine employers want to see an affinity for mainly maths and maybe less so economics - definitely an affinity for problem solving. Whichever field you enter, you can work your way to the top and this is best done if the field you enter is your true passion!
All degrees can lead to good jobs if you play to your strengths. Are you taking FM A level?
Reply 8
Original post by Jam.123
Is it really a good idea to go into uni laser focused on one subset of potential career options offered to graduates of that career or just mindlessly chasing money from the start? Enjoy the experience, in first year attend some careers fairs and look at what modules you can take to get into interesting jobs and so on. For the most quantitative careers, I imagine employers want to see an affinity for mainly maths and maybe less so economics - definitely an affinity for problem solving. Whichever field you enter, you can work your way to the top and this is best done if the field you enter is your true passion!
All degrees can lead to good jobs if you play to your strengths. Are you taking FM A level?


Yes I am taking FM predicted A*. Also how would you necessarily show an affinity for maths?
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 9
Original post by yzven
Yes I am taking FM predicted A*. Also how would you necessarily show an affinity for maths?


Well if you want to do a primarily quantitative career, then maybe a maths degree is better, but it's not like economics degrees lead to bad jobs. Stuff like doing maths competitions, essays, bits of research, maybe a masters, olympiads, etc all help, but it's mainly how each company tests you during interview and applications stages.
Reply 10
Original post by Jam.123
Well if you want to do a primarily quantitative career, then maybe a maths degree is better, but it's not like economics degrees lead to bad jobs. Stuff like doing maths competitions, essays, bits of research, maybe a masters, olympiads, etc all help, but it's mainly how each company tests you during interview and applications stages.


What quantitative masters are available for econ BSc grads? statistics?
Original post by yzven
I've applied for Economics BSc at LSE, Cambridge, Warwick, Bath and have an offer from Bristol for Economics and Maths, but even if I'm accepted into one of the target unis (warwick, cam, lse) I feel like Economics is too narrow. I've been enjoying (and been getting good at) maths lately, and I'm not sure whether to take a gap year and reapply for maths next year. Honestly the quantitative side of jobs really appeals to me, and idk if pure economics will get me there. (plus I feel like economics isn't respected as a science). I'd love to switch from pure Econ to Econ and Maths (apart from cambridge) but idk if the unis will let me if I go there - probably not.

I did Economics at LSE
I was offered the chance to transfer to BSc Econometrics and Maths Economics in 3rd year.
You can make the course very very mathamatical by course selection
Postgraduate Economics required advanced calculus and econometrics
I now work as an Actuary, pretty maths in anyones books!
Original post by yzven
Thanks for the insight, really helpful. Do you have any examples of well-paid quantitative careers which I can explore/research with an economics degree from one of these unis? I am definitely planning on taking all the optional mathematical modules at whichever uni I go to for economics, and I hope to build projects, learn some more Python etc.

I guess it depends on what you define as well-paid quantitative careers. Economics graduates who are quantitatively strong can generally enter fields like data science and actuarial science, which most people would define as well-paid and quantitative, sometimes having internship experience in these fields prior to graduation can really help though considering these paths aren't typically frequently pursued by econ grads.

I would say the vast majority of financial sector roles would also be available. Maybe barring quants and some trader roles (which hire STEM students almost exclusively), most roles would be available. These range from the very un-quantitative ones like investment banking/M&A, to more quantitative ones like trading/structuring/fixed income and macro research. All are well paid ofc.

Alternatively, you could try to become an economist. Some roles are less quantitative and less well-paid such as those in the civil service. Roles at places like the Bank of England can be pretty quantitative but still aren't so well paid. Private sector economist roles tend to be more quantitative and better paid, though this ofc varies. So you could be looking at areas like microeconomic consultancies that work in areas like competition/litigation/impact assessments, or macro consultancies where you'd be doing forecasting and macro/fin market research, similarly at banks there are macroeconomist roles where you'd be producing forecasts and research (tho they hire few undergrads).

Beyond that, there are still a tonne of quantitative roles out there that are open to graduates from numerical backgrounds and pay well. But those discussed above are the more usual paths for economics graduates.
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 13
Original post by Zürich
I did Economics at LSE
I was offered the chance to transfer to BSc Econometrics and Maths Economics in 3rd year.
You can make the course very very mathamatical by course selection
Postgraduate Economics required advanced calculus and econometrics
I now work as an Actuary, pretty maths in anyones books!

congrats thanks for replying:smile: cool to hear that you can be offered to transfer onto maths-y courses while at uni. I presume you performed really well in maths or took quantitative modules to be offered that transfer?
Original post by yzven
congrats thanks for replying:smile: cool to hear that you can be offered to transfer onto maths-y courses while at uni. I presume you performed really well in maths or took quantitative modules to be offered that transfer?


2nd year Econometrics got like 80% and took 2nd year Calculus and Mathematical Finance
I did well.

But between you and me, if you like Maths than Economics will be interesting. It's not like A-Level, those who go far in Economics need Maths, they wont be doing Masters by just moving graphs around and waving their hands.

You can do plenty of rigouros Mathsy careers with Economics, it's not a problem.

Frankly I would go nuts with pure Maths tbf. I like the combination of real world and riguour and you will get both with Economics.
(edited 6 months ago)

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