At a glance
BA: 3 years
A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics
A Level: A*A*A
IB: 41-42 with 776 at Higher Level
Economics Admissions Assessment (taken in advance of interview)
An economics degree is a relevant and challenging degree course - suitable for anyone interested in both current affairs and History. Economics enables us to understand how markets and societies work. Economists address a wide range of human problems including (amongst many others) unemployment, inequality, financial instability, game theory (strategic decision-making), the development of poorer countries, government policy-making, international policy co-ordination, economic integration and monetary union (including EMU).
An economics degree would prepare you for a career in a number of different areas. Some economists are engaged in research at academic institutions, consultancy firms or the bigger private companies, particularly financial institutions. Other economists are involved with public policy-making either with national governments or multilateral organisations (e.g. the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank). An economics degree is also useful for those who would like to pursue a career in finance, accounting, public services, politics, journalism, international relations, charity work etc. Of the recent Economics graduates from Caius, most have moved into careers in finance, management consultancy, accountancy and/or postgraduate studies, while a few have gone on to do a law conversion course.
The Faculty of Economics organises the lectures, classes and examinations for the three year undergraduate course (known as the “Economics Tripos”). A wide range of subjects are available including economic theory, statistics and econometrics, economic history, politics and sociology, development economics, public economics, banking and finance etc.etc. In their final year, Economics students are able to do a dissertation on the economic topic of their choice. One of the many advantages of studying economics at Cambridge is that many Cambridge lecturers and supervisors are influential in public policy-making. Our undergraduates acquire a broad knowledge both of different economic models (from Left to Right and in-between) and of diverse approaches to policy-making. So our undergraduates are able to form their own educated opinions about economic policy, whether pro-market, pro-government or a mixture of both.
The colleges arrange 'supervisions' to complement the Faculty’s lectures and classes. Supervisions are small teaching groups (usually about two to four students per group in Economics). Supervisions provide an ideal learning environment, although students do need to be aware that supervisions require a lot of dedication, organisation and hard-work (from the students as well as the supervisors!).
Economics at Caius
Caius has a long tradition in economics: it has been established as a subject at Caius for over one hundred years. During this period, many famous economists have been Fellows and students at the College, including the Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman, Sir John Hicks, Joseph Stiglitz and Sir Richard Stone. We pride ourselves on making sure that each student can achieve their full potential, which means that the College regularly achieves above average results in Economics.
Our college lecturers do most of the supervising for our Economics undergraduates, although we do 'trade’ teaching with other colleges too so you’re always sure to have an expert supervisor. We have three Economics Fellows. Dr Victoria Bateman is Director of Studies in Part I and Part IIB. She teaches macroeconomics and economic history. Her research focuses on historical analyses of market development and economic growth, feminist Economics and Brexit, and she regularly writes for the press, engaging with modern day policy issues and the latest economic challenges. Dr Clive Lawson is Director of Studies for Part IIA and his interests include economic methodology, organisational and collective learning, social theory and the philosophy of science. He supervises econometrics and statistics. Professor Richard Smith is a Professor of Econometrics and Emeritus Fellow. His research interests include hypothesis testing and model selection in econometrics. This means that, altogether, the interests of our Fellows span everything from statistics and economic theory to economic history and political economy.
We usually have about six to eight students per year studying Economics at Caius, which means that the group is neither too big nor too small. A wide range of backgrounds is represented amongst the Economics students. We believe that this diversity is essential to encouraging debate and discussion, and to enabling us all to build a more complete understanding of the different economic and social problems confronting different people and different parts of the world. We do not take the economic future for granted; we believe that it is our own students who will go on to actively create it. That means that your education could not be more important to us.
In addition to being involved in the various university Economics societies, our students run an active college Economics Society and they regularly invite prominent economists/ public policy makers to give free lectures in the Caius lecture theatre.
We welcome applications from prospective students of all backgrounds and nationalities. Mathematics is a tool that most economists now use extensively and so Economics students need to be confident in their use of mathematical tools such as differential calculus, matrix algebra and statistics. It is essential for A-Level applicants to have A-Level Maths, and Further Maths is desirable too. Other skills (such as analytical ability and literacy) are also essential but an Economics A-Level is not required; in fact, many of our very best students did not study Economics at school. We will, however, expect our candidates to understand basic economic concepts whether or not they have studied Economics at school. This knowledge can be acquired by reading school-level Economics texts as well as The Economist or similar magazines and newspapers regularly.
Academic potential is our only selection criterion. The information we use in assessing academic potential includes personal statements, school references, interview performance, examination results (including any exams taken at school) and admissions test performance.
All applicants for Economics at Cambridge will be expected to sit the pre-interview written assessment. More details can be found on the University website. There will also be a 30-minute maths assessment at the College on the day of interview. This is in response to candidates preferring to answer maths questions without someone watching over them, as is the case in the more usual setting of an interview. This assessment is designed to allow candidates to display their basic maths skills in an economic setting and to be easily completable in the 30 minutes allowed. It is not designed to be complex, or to require much in the way of economic knowledge. Common sense plus basic maths is all that is needed. A sample can be found here.
Not everyone's application to study Economics at Caius will be successful. However, we put the best of our unsuccessful applicants into the inter-collegiate 'pool' and usually a good number of these applicants receive places at other Colleges. And, since the Colleges work together closely, it is not unusual for our Fellows to be teaching and working with candidates who have ultimately gone on to get places at other Colleges.