Department of Economics

Economics: Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD)

Key information

3 years full-time or 6 years part-time
Attendance mode
Full-time or part-time
Russell Square, College Buildings

Home student fees (full-time): £4,860 per year
Home student fees (part-time): £2,430 per year
Overseas student fees (full-time): £22,490 per year
Overseas student fees (part-time): £11,245 per year

Please note that fees go up each year. 
See research fees for further details.

Entry requirements

Admission and thesis requirements. A good Masters degree in Economics plus one reference is usually required. 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 100,000 words. International applicants should also see Doctoral School English language requirements

Course overview

The Department of Economics of SOAS has become one of the most outstanding sites for undertaking a research degree in the fields of development economics, heterodox economics and political economy.

Why study Economics: Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) at SOAS?

  • We are ranked 27th in UK for Economics (QS World University Rankings 2023).
  • We are ranked 8th in UK for student satisfaction with teaching (Guardian League Tables 2022) and 5th in London (Complete University Guide 2022).
  • The Department offers unique research training opportunities both through its dedicated research student seminar series, the wide-ranging set of courses taught on its MSc programmes and partnerships with other universities (e.g. New School for Social Research in the US and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa).
  • Departmental staff are leading experts in their fields, have rich research experience, and have well-established networks with academic and international organisations.
  • 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.

Four pathways

  • 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 is shared with the SOAS Department of Development Studies and other Bloomsbury Colleges. The International Development pathway is also eligible for award of ESRC Grants through the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership: Scholarships and Bursaries.
  • SOAS-Wits Joint MPhil/PhD in Applied Development Economics coordinates a programme of research in heterodox economics or political economy with a focus on Africa, it involves joint supervision by SOAS and Wits supervisors.

Prospective MPhil/PhD students are encouraged to contact members of staff with suitable research expertise prior to applying for a research degree.

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. 

Staff research

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, Professor Costas Lapavitsas or the Admissions Office,, and for general information and regulations concerning research students at SOAS, please see, Research Admissions and Applications. 


  • 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.

Important notice

The information on the website reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. The modules are indicative options of the content students can expect and are/have been previously taught as part of these programmes. However, this information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Teaching and learning


  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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

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.

Computing facilities

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

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 and funding

Fees for 2023/24 entrants per academic year

  Home students Overseas students
Full-time £4,860 £21,630
Part-time £2,430 £10,815

Please note that fees go up each year.

See research fees for further details.


Economics graduates leave SOAS with a solid grounding in statistical skills and an ability to think laterally, take a global perspective, and employ critical reasoning.

Recent graduates from the Department of Economics have been hired by:

  • Deloitte
  • NHS England
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • HSBC
  • National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
  • University of Bayreuth
  • HM Treasury
  • Department for International Development
  • PwC
  • UNDP
  • King’s Investment Fund
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • The World Bank
  • EY
  • British Chamber of Commerce

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A student's perspective

As far as a fully comprehensive experience of academia, debate, culture, friendships and extra-curricular goes - SOAS is the place to be. The degree I achieved in Economics and Chinese has always been a big part of my journey, and I am glad I chose it. Economics will always provide a fundamental grounding in understanding the world better, and as for Chinese - well it's the future.

Hussain Hilli