Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics

Programme Structure (MSc)

The SGPE offers a focused research-oriented MSc programme.

Please be advised that the programme is very intensive and challenging. It involves a lot of contact hours each week (21 -26 contact hours per week in semester 1), includes many assessments (problem sets, exams in December, February, and May, econometrics group project, dissertation), and is based on a mathematical treatment of economics, which requires strong quantitative skills. Please see below for samples of lectures and exams for the course Microeconomics 1.

Exam sample

Exam sample with solutions

Lecture sample - envelope theorem

Programme structure

Students doing groupwork assignment
© Paul Dodds/The University of Edinburgh

Semester details

First semester: In the first semester there is an introductory course which runs for three weeks in September, and then the core courses run for nine weeks from early October to late November. These are followed by a series of three class exams in December.

Christmas break: There is a short break before classes resume in January.

Second semester: The second semester core courses run for six weeks from  early January. Option courses run for the next six weeks following this period.

Dissertation period: This runs from after the April/May exams until you submit your dissertation in August.

Foundation Courses

The programme begins with short preliminary courses in Mathematics, Statistics and Econometrics.

These introductory courses run for three weeks in September, starting in Welcome Week. All students take these classes. 

This course reviews material on the following (please note that we recommend students review these areas before arriving, especially if your knowledge isn’t current):

  • optimisation
  • matrix algebra
  • econometrics

Students will also be introduced to Stata (econometrics software) which will be used throughout the core courses in econometrics and macroeconomics.  

Core Courses

From October to mid-February there are six core courses: two each in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics and an econometrics based project. Details on the core courses and links to the Degree Programme Timetable can be found below.

Macroeconomics courses

These two core courses cover:

  • economic growth
  • business cycles and monetary policy
  • consumption and investment theory
  • unemployment

The emphasis is on understanding different theoretical approaches and their relevance to macroeconomics policy. The textbook for this course is David Romer’s Advanced Macroeconomics

In addition to lectures, there is a weekly three-hour macroeconomics tutorial in which students apply theories learned in class.

Macroeconomics 1 course details

Macroeconomics 2 course details

Microeconomics courses

The two core courses in microeconomics cover:

  • consumer and producer theory

  • general equilibrium

  • game theory

  • decisions under uncertainty

  • asymmetric information

  • mechanism design

  • signalling

  • screening

  • principal-agent problems

In addition to lectures, there is a weekly three-hour microeconomics tutorial in which students apply theories learned in class.

Microeconomics 1 course details

Microeconomics 2 course details

Econometrics courses

These core courses provide a thorough training in econometric methods that enables students to assess critically applied work and to use econometric techniques in PhD work or in employment as economists.

The courses begin with a short review of the properties of ordinary least squares estimators. They then cover:

  • seasonality and structural change
  • testing for parameter constancy and predictive accuracy
  • multicollinearity
  • likelihood based inference
  • model selection tests
  • generalised least squares
  • errors-in-variables
  • instrumental variables
  • univariate time series analysis
  • vector autoregressions
  • panel data methods
  • the generalised method of moments

In addition to lectures, there are weekly three-hour econometrics labs or tutorials in which students are taught to use Stata to apply the theories learned in class.

In Semester 2 there are two Econometrics options covering different specialisms. Students may take one or both courses, depending on the pathway they are pursuing.

Econometrics 1 course details

Econometrics 2: Time Series course details

Econometrics 2: Microeconometrics course details

Econometrics project

In addition to the courses above, there is also an Econometrics Project in which students form small teams and work on a practical empirical topic using modern econometric techniques.  Students (i) identify precise hypotheses that can be tested empirically, (ii) familiarise themselves with the relevant literature, (iii) work with a dataset which enables them to test their hypotheses, (iv) use appropriate econometrics software to analyse the data and test the hypotheses in question, (v) present their results to an audience, and (vi) write up the whole exercise as a group project.

Econometrics Project course details

SGPE conference

In January all MSc students participate in a conference. The exact format of this may change from year to year.

In previous years, this has been a residential conference, encompassing the following:

  • options course information
  • Dissertation and career guidance
  • General interest talks and keynote speakers
  • Econometrics project presentation
  • PhD information sessions

Residential Conference information

PhD presentations

At the  conference, you will also have the opportunity to attend presentations by current PhD students on the Scottish Graduate Programme (SGPE), and to meet informally with the PhD coordinators at the SGPE Universities. This gives MSc students intending to move onto a PhD exposure to some of the issues and challenges involved in actual economic research.

Option courses

From February to early April, students will choose either two or three courses (depending on your programme) from a range of options with the choice depending on the degree programme being followed. The options courses are designed to familiarise you with the main elements of the relevant theory and to introduce you to a range of more advanced topics and recent developments in Economics. They also emphasise the problems that arise when making the transition from theoretical models to empirical and applied work and in this respect they are particularly useful in formulating and writing the summer dissertation.

Recent option courses have included:

  • Advanced Topics in Macroeconomics
  • Advanced Topics in Microeconomics
  • Advanced Time Series Econometrics 
  • Advanced Microeconometrics
  • Asset Pricing 
  • Bayesian Econometrics 
  • Corporate Finance 
  • Development Economics
  • Development and Methodology of Economic Thought
  • Economics of Labour Markets
  • Economics of the Public Sector
  • Economic Policy
  • Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
  • Experimental Economics and Finance   
  • Health Economics
  • International Money and Finance
  • Industrial Organisation
  • International Trade
  • Statistical Learning with Application in Python
  • Topics in Economic History

Structures of all the programmes can be found by following the links below.

MSc Economics programme structure

MSc Economics (Econometrics) programme structure

MSc Economics (Finance) programme structure


The taught part of the course is examined by a combination of class exams and mainly final exams during April and May. Progression to the dissertation stage depends on a satisfactory performance at the taught stage (resits are not permitted).