School of Economics

Your studies

Things you need to know about studying with the School of Economics.

What we expect of you

We expect our students to be proactive in their studies. Check your university email account regularly - it’s how we will communicate with you.

Lecture notes and handouts are all published online and can be accessed via course LEARN pages.

The University is moving to electronic submission of assignments, you should follow assignment submission instructions on the relevant course LEARN page.

At some point in your studies you will have a clash of deadlines - plan ahead for these and make sure you manage your time effectively. This is just one of the valuable life skills that studying with us will give you and multiple deadlines in a short space of time is not an acceptable reason to ask for extensions. Further guidance on extensions can be found in the Economics Programme Handbook, which is available on course LEARN pages.

Be aware that class attendance is compulsory, and will be monitored to ensure you are engaging with your studies to a satisfactory level. Some courses require homework submission in tutorials which count towards the course mark, whilst others have a penalty system for absences. So you should read course documentation carefully to ensure you are familiar with the requirements.

Our peer assisted learning group, EconPALS, have worked with the academic staff to produce a suggested reading list that may help with your understanding of economics. 


The normal workload for students is 120 credits per year. Taking more than the normal workload of 120 credits is very challenging and not advisable for weaker students. Your Personal Tutor can approve you taking additional courses. (This applies to years 1 - 2 only). Additional credits are only permitted in year 3 when making up a credit shortfall from years 1 and/or 2. Senior honour students are not permitted to take additional credits over 120.

Course Enrolments

Joining a course after the start of teaching is possible (up to the end of week 2 in the relevant semester) - from week three onwards it requires permission from the Course Organiser.

Changing a course

A course can be cancelled up to the end of week 5, after which time you will be marked as withdrawn (WD) and this will remain on your record.

(There are exceptions to this rule e.g. Research in Management is a seeded course for 3rd year students on Economics and Accounting, but is only required if you write a Management Dissertation. Students make the decision about which dissertation to write long after the deadline for cancelling a course has passed but Registry can remove this course without it showing on their record.)

Pass marks and progression

You have to get 40% or higher to pass most courses at Edinburgh, but bear in mind that sometimes just a pass isn’t good enough. For example: you can only apply to study abroad in 3rd year if you attain at least 50% in all your Year 1 courses and you won’t be admitted into Economics Honours unless you get 40% or higher in Economics 2, plus 40% in Statistical Methods for Economics, and pass all your other courses (for those on joint degree programmes there will be similar requirements in the other subject).

A normal academic year is 120 credits (a one semester course is normally 20 credits and a full year course 40 credits). The minimum number of credits for progression is:

  • 80 credit points by the end of Year 1
  • 200 credit points by the end of Year 2
  • 360 credit points by the end of Year 3
  • 480 credit points by the end of Year 4

There are two things to be aware of here - although the rules say you could progress into third year with only 200 credits, the requirement to be admitted to Honours in Economics is that you pass all your courses so you could be refused entry if you only have 200 credit points. Even if you have mitigating circumstances and are allowed to progress into Junior Honours with only 200 credits you CANNOT go into Senior Honours unless you have 360 credits, no matter how strong your mitigating circumstances are. So if you have failed a 10 credit course in year 2 and you don’t make up those missing 10 credits by the end of year 3 you will have to repeat year 3 on a part-time basis to make up the credits. We have seen this happen - be warned!

The required courses for each year of your degree programme will be added to your record when the academic year rolls over (this is called seeding). This is an automatic process and does not mean that you have progressed into the next year if your academic record indicates otherwise.


There are resits for non-honours courses but not for honours courses (unless you are doing the BA (HSS) - the ordinary degree).

If you fail an honours course but have achieved an average of 40% or higher for the year, the Exam Board can recommend that you be awarded the credits on aggregate for that course. This means that you will have the required number of credits and can progress to Senior Honours or you can graduate if you are already in 4th year, but the fail mark will count towards your degree classification.

If your average mark falls below the required 40% you will not be awarded the credits - this means that you cannot continue with the MA (Hons) and will have to transfer to the ordinary (non-honours) degree of BA (HSS). This degree requires 360 credits - 60 of which must be at honours level (level 9 or 10) and is an unclassified degree.


If you leave university at any time before the end of your degree you could qualify for the Undergraduate Diploma of Higher Education if you have 240 credits and the Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education if you have 120 credits from this university. Further conditions apply; please check the Undergraduate Regulations.