Postgraduate study

Economics PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Economics

Our PhD programme enables you to pursue your academic interests, and learn the latest methods in research, while providing you with thorough training in modern economics.

We have an impressive history of high rankings for our postgraduate research. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 25% of our research was judged world-leading in its originality, significance and rigour, while a further 45% was judged internationally excellent.

There are 34 staff members and around 30 PhD students. Profiles of all our economics staff and students are available on the economics website:

All of our PhD students are fully supervised and supported throughout their studies. Each student is supervised by two faculty members in the School, typically a senior and junior member of staff.

The PhD programme is principally a research degree, but modern economics requires substantial training that exceeds the level of an MSc or other masters study.

As a postgraduate at the School of Economics you will be immersed in a rich academic environment and supportive community of staff and students, with all the practical facilities to ensure success in your chosen programme of learning or research.

While many of our PhD graduates choose to remain in academia as lecturers and researchers, some pursue careers in other sectors.

Recent PhD graduates have found employment as researchers and analysts with the World Bank, the Bank of England and The Economist, as well as other private and public organisations.

A UK masters degree with distinction, or its international equivalent, in economics.

If you do not hold a masters, or if your masters is in another subject, you will not normally be admitted directly to the PhD.

Our programme is designed to enable you to pursue your academic interests, and learn the latest methods in research, while providing thorough training in modern economics. As important as your topic is the ability to match your topic with our supervision team. We will not admit a student, where we cannot provide the very best supervision. Therefore, you should think carefully about whether your topic matches our research interests.

During the application process, you will be asked to provide a research summary that briefly outlines your research interests and why you feel they fit with those of the School.

The criteria we will use to decide upon admission will include:

  • the quality and rigour of your training in core economics areas.
  • your performance at undergraduate and postgraduate level
  • our ability to offer supervision in your chosen area of research
  • the quality of your research summary and the strength of the match to the research priorities of the School
  • our assessment of any previous independent work (such as your masters dissertation or extended project)

In exceptional cases, we may consider prior independent research experience as a positive factor for admission.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in reading and listening, and 6.0 in all other sections)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in listening and reading, and 20 in speaking and writing)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in listening and reading, and 56 in speaking and writing)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in listening and reading, and 169 in speaking and writing)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDEconomics3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

We have funding for all students although we would encourage you to try and obtained your own funding sources in the first instance.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Economics
  • 30/31 Buccleuch Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JT

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

See our supervisors and their areas of research:

Before applying for a PhD with us, please send us an enquiry email so we can assist you and give you the best advice.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Economics
  • 30/31 Buccleuch Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JT