Overview and entry requirements
The Economics: Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) at the Department of Economics of SOAS has become one of the most outstanding sites for undertaking a research degree.
Why study Economics: Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) at SOAS
- we are 12th in UK for course satisfaction Guardian League Tables 2021 and 5th in London Complete University Guide 2021
- the Department offers unique research training opportunities both through its dedicated research student seminar series and the wide-ranging set of courses taught on its MSc programmes. These range from economic theory to political economy of development and are oriented around a range of theoretical, empirical and policy issues. Its special subject options provide the highest level of expertise on a large number of topics
- first year research students benefit from a programme of research student training in political economy, different schools of thought, methods and methodologies, and receive formal training sessions on how to do fieldwork
- training needs of each research students are individually assessed and provided through a combination of generally available courses and individual tuition
- departmental staff have rich experience in supervising research degree students, matched by their success in bringing students' theses to timely completion. Whilst the Department has a strong commitment to students' early completion of their theses, it also considers it has a responsibility to see that all of its research students obtain a broader training than in their narrowly-defined topic and that they gain skills in theoretical, empirical and policy analysis, in the writing and communication of research results, and in evaluating the work of others
- research students are expected to form part of the academic community of the Department, participating as appropriate in collaborative research with members of staff, with some opportunities for teaching
- SOAS offers unique opportunities for interdisciplinary and regional research, and the scope to learn or improve a language where appropriate
- the Departmental Empirical Support Committee (DESC) offers targeted advice to individual students undertaking empirical work
See Department of Economics
3 ways to get a research degree
- MPhil/PhD in Economics involves Department-specific research training and supervision, usually by a member of the Department or otherwise appropriate supervisor from another Department.
- MPhil/PhD in Development Economics involves Department-specific research training and supervision usually by a member of the Department or otherwise appropriate supervisor from another Department. The PhD in Development Economics is attached to the Doctoral Training Partnership and is eligible for ESRC funding: Scholarships and Bursaries.
- MPhil/PhD in International Development pathway is shared with the SOAS Department of Development Studies and other Bloomsbury Colleges. The ID pathway is also eligible for award of ESRC Grants through the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership: Scholarships and Bursaries
As indicated, it is also possible to be PhD students in the Department of Economics on one or other of these three programmes but to be supervised by a member of staff from another Department. By the same token, it is possible for a PhD student from another Department to be supervised by a member of the Department of Economics.
In these cases of cross-Departmental supervision, by virtue of more appropriate expertise in another Department, both Departments must agree to the arrangement and make provision for it (especially supervision in a Department other than that responsible for training and administering student progress).
For more information on the specific Research Degrees offered by the Department please select from the corresponding tabs.
Scholarships, funding and ESRC recognition
There are a number of scholarship available to research (and MSc) students at SOAS; please see Scholarships and Bursaries for further information. But it is a condition of acceptance that students embarking upon a research degree have the capacity to fund the full duration of their studies. There may be some paid opportunities for teaching, normally not in first year, but these cannot be relied upon and will not begin to cover fees and maintenance fully.
All full-time, permanent members of academic staff are active researchers and can serve as supervisors. The Department as a whole is especially keen to supervise research students across its staff’s areas of specialisation in political economy, development, and area studies, but will also accept students across other topics, including mainstream approaches, where it has an interest and expertise.
Please see the Economics Staff pages for a list of staff and their research interests. For the sorts of topics covered by research students, please see Research Student web pages.
For further information about the Research Degrees at SOAS please contact the PhD Admissions Tutor, Hannah Bargawi and Elisa Van Waeyenberge or the Admissions Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, and for general information and regulations concerning research students at SOAS, please see, Research Admissions and Applications. Also click on tabs at top of the page next to Overview.
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Admission and Thesis Requirements. A good Masters degree in Economics plus one reference is usually required for registration for the MPhil and PhD research degrees. Students are normally registered for the MPhil degree in the first instance. Once approval of the Research Student's Supervisory Committee has been received, the student's registration is upgraded to PhD status (and backdated to the commencement of the MPhil registration), usually at the end of the first year of study, for which the minimum registration period is double that of full-time study. Candidates are expected to present a thesis of not more than 55,000 words for the MPhil, while for the PhD the maximum length is 100,00 words.
- Overseas fees:
Fees for 2021/22 entrants. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page
Objectives of research training in economics
- to encourage and enable students to complete an original thesis in the expected time.
- to provide training and experience in fieldwork and across a variety of schools of economics and in a variety of statistical techniques.
- to allow flexibility in training to suit students with different backgrounds and subsequent research needs.
- to make available and to monitor first class research supervision with the involvement of at least two members of staff through individual Research Student Committees.
- to encourage knowledge of other relevant disciplines and the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach where appropriate.
- to equip students with the ability to assess one another's work critically, whether in response to written or spoken presentation.
- to obtain language skills as appropriate.
- to ensure a congenial and productive environment for the conduct of research through availability of a wide range of facilities and full participation in the intellectual life of the Department and School. Library facilities are outstanding and computing facilities are attuned to student needs.
- to emphasise the relevance of research to theoretical, empirical and policy issues.
- to draw upon the Department's particular strengths, especially its expertise in different approaches to economic problems and its experience in problems of development, specific regions, and comparative analysis.
- to involve students in the specialised Centres of the School where appropriate.
Special features of studying for a research degree
The Department of Economics at SOAS has become one of the most outstanding sites for undertaking a research degree in economics and is unique in a number of respects:
- The Department’s own MSc programme is offered as a foundation for undertaking a research degree, together with the MSc in International Development. The core courses in economic theory, the political economy of development, and econometrics are wide-ranging in scope and oriented towards theoretical, empirical, and policy issues, especially where concerning the developing economies. Its special subject options are varied and provide the highest level of expertise on a large number of more specialised topics. Even those who have already completed an MSc in Economics at other institutions have found it worthwhile to follow courses on the MScs at SOAS.
- In addition to access to the Department's own MSc courses and the weekly dedicated research student seminar for all research students, first year students in the Department also benefit from a programme of research student training in political economy, method and methodologies, and different schools of thought.
- The training needs of each research student are individually assessed and provided through a combination of generally available courses and individual tuition.
- Departmental staff have rich experience in supervising research degree students, matched by their success in bringing students' theses to timely completion. Whilst the Department has a strong commitment to students' early completion of their theses, it also considers it has a responsibility to see that all of its research students obtain a broader training than in their narrowly defined topic and that they also gain skills in theoretical, empirical and policy analysis, in the writing and communication of research results, and in evaluating the work of others.
- Research students are expected to form part of the academic community of the Department, participating where appropriate in collaborative research with members of staff, with some opportunities for teaching.
- Members of the Department are committed to interdisciplinary research as well as to specialised research. SOAS offers unique opportunities for interdisciplinary and regional research, and the scope to learn or improve a language where appropriate.
- Whilst each member of staff is an expert in particular fields of economics, and most are experts in specific geographical areas, the Department welcomes research students who do not have a regional specialisation.
- The Departmental Empirical Support Committee (DESC) offers targeted advice to individual students undertaking empirical work.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
The role of the second and third members of the Supervisory Committee (SC) will be focused on the following two core tasks:
a) Participate in the upgrade process of the student, including the final decision relating to his/her transfer from MPhil to PhD.
b) Participate in other decisions relating to his/her eligibility for enrolment on Extension of Writing-up (Continuation) Status or, where necessary, termination of registration.
- In addition to these core roles, the second and third members of the SC may be expected to:
a) Enhance or augment the supervision of the student by contributing additional guidance and expertise, if required/sought by the student and/or the supervisor throughout the time of active research.
b) To act on behalf of the supervisor during unforeseen periods of absence. This role will have to be agreed by consent of all parties (student, supervisor and the two members of the SC) and one of the two members will be designated as cover in absence for the period in question.
- Only rarely is joint supervision allowed, for which a strong case would need to be made. Whilst the primary responsibility for guiding student's research and to review written work and progress rests with the supervisor once upgrade is successfully completed, other members of the supervisory committee must receive student’s thesis drafts at appropriate times, with support also available to students from the Departmental Empirical Support Committee (DESC).
Part-time students are expected to follow the same programme as the full-time students, except that they will take the initial training over two years instead of one. The Research Student Seminar and Departmental Seminars take place in the early evening to allow students in full-time employment to attend. Supervision is available in the evenings where necessary, and research student committees consider the progress of part- time students as regularly as for full-time students.
Full computing facilities are available to postgraduate students. Computers dedicated for the use of research students in the Economics Department are also available. Software includes word-processing, specialised statistical, econometrics and spreadsheet packages. The Schools' computing staff are on hand to assist with general computing problems.
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
Fees for 2021/22 entrants per academic year
|Extension of Writing-up Status - 3 Terms
|Visiting Research Students (charged pro rata for termly attendance)
Please note that fees go up each year.
See full details of postgraduate research tuition fees
Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00
Application Deadline: 2021-04-20 00:00
Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00
Application Deadline: 2021-03-08 00:00
Application Deadline: 2021-06-04 00:00
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
A postgraduate degree in Economics and Environment from SOAS equips students with a range of important skills to continue in the field of research as well as a portfolio of widely transferable employability skills valued by a wide range of employers. These include numeracy, analytical thinking and general skills such as organisation and effective communication skills. Graduates of this programme will develop a specialised understanding of the environmental and development concerns.
In addition the study of Economics gives students particular problem solving skills including: abstraction, analysis, quantification, strategic thinking and adaptability.
Find out about Graduate Destinations Service
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
- African Development Bank
- Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister
- Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR
- Department For Communities And Local Government
- Department for International Development
- Department of Foreign Affairs
- Emerging Markets Direct
- European Commission
- Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
- Ghana Education Service
- Government of Pakistan
- HM Treasury
- Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IESE)
- International Climate Change Economics
- Ministry of East African Community Affairs
- National Bank of Bahrain
- Overseas Development Institute
- Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
- The National Economics University
- United Nations Development Programme
- World Bank
Types of positions SOAS Economics graduates have gained include:
- Development Economist
- Broadcast Journalist
- Fair Trade Producer Support Manager
- Latin America Country Risk Analyst
- Economic Adviser
- Senior Policy Officer
- Deputy Commissioner
- Research Fellow
- Advocacy Officer
- Consultant - Development Sector Practice
- Senior Policy Economist
- ODI Fellow
- Research Officer
- Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist
- Operations Manager
- Web Writer & Founder
Find out about our Careers Service
A Student's Perspective
While being lectured in class by world experts in the field of development, SOAS events have also allowed me to hear and meet some of the originators of many of the ideas taught in class! Being at SOAS almost feels like being seated at the forefront of policy debate and this is what I enjoy the most.