Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Economics

PhD Economics


The details
October 2024
3 - 4 years
Colchester Campus

Our three-year pathway in the Department of Economics for the PhD economics degree gives you the chance to ask difficult questions, break intellectual boundaries and create new solutions to issues of global concern. You work closely with our creative and committed academics - researchers who are pioneering new solutions to these issues, inspiring your own research.

We are renowned for our research expertise in a number of areas of economics, including the following:

  • Behavioural economics
  • Experimental economics
  • Industrial organisation, market structure and firm behaviour
  • Political economy
  • Social networks
  • Economic theory
  • Financial economics and economics of banking
  • International economics
  • Macroeconomics and macroeconomic policy
  • Public finance
  • Search and matching
  • Development economics
  • Family and health economics including gender, population, and migration
  • Labour economics including inequality and the economics of crime
  • Microeconometrics
  • Spatial econometrics and cross-sectional dependence
  • Semi and nonparametric econometrics
  • Time series econometrics

We are 4th in UK for research power in economics and econometrics (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

You receive advanced research training and expert supervision to reach your full potential, as well as access to top quality research facilities. We also guarantee office space for you in our PhD Research Centre, giving you the space and tools to work.

We work with you to teach you how to look at the world through an economist's lens, taking a critical approach to dismantle a proposition, working robust methodologies to build an argument based on rigorous theoretical reasoning and sound empirical evidence.

Our PhD includes advanced economic methods and analysis, with links to research programmes in our Institute for Social and Economic Research, the UK Data Archive and other departments at Essex.

Why we're great.
  • We are 4th in UK for research power in economics and econometrics (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).
  • As one of our PhD students, you can be part of our regular lively debates in seminars, workshops and conferences
  • Be the first to read cutting-edge papers published by our academics, in leading journals

Our expert staff

Essex economists are engaged in a variety of research networks and collaborate with economists at other universities in the UK and overseas. Much of our research is related to policy and we often provide advice to government and non-government organisations.

The top quality of our work is reflected in our stream of publications in high profile academic journals like the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Finance, and the Review of Economic Studies.

Our staff members also receives funding for their research from a number of national and international funding bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council and the European Research Commission.

Specialist facilities

As well as access to all University facilities at our Colchester Campus, such as our well-equipped Albert Sloman Library and extensive open access computer laboratories, we also guarantee office space for you in our PhD Research Centre, giving you the space and tools to work.

Extensive software for quantitative analysis is available in all computer labs across the university. You also have access to ESSEXLab, our on-campus social science lab where you can conduct studies using our participants, in state-of-the-art facilities and to the resources available at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the UK Data Archive.

Your future

In recent years, our PhD students have obtained posts in a range of academic and non-academic institutions. These include universities such as Bath, Chicago, Dusseldorf, East Anglia, the London School of Economics, Mannheim, Oxford, Rochester, University College London, and organisations like the Office for National Statistics (UK), the Bank of England, Bank of Italy, Bank of Korea, Bank of Mexico, Central Bank of Colombia, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, European Commission JRC, the World Bank.

With the skills and knowledge you acquire from studying within our Department of Economics, you will be in demand from a wide range of employers. We have excellent links with the research community, both in the UK and worldwide, and strong ties with the policy, business and consultancy world, especially in London and other major financial centres.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A merit profile in an MRes Economics, or an equivalent programme, normally with 60% or above (or equivalent) in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics and mathematics modules, and submission of the dissertation.

If you have not studied (or are not currently studying) an MRes Economics, or an equivalent programme, you should consider applying for our PhD (Integrated) Economics programme.

You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component


Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Research Plan

What interests you? Set out the field of study for your research, as an essay or research paper of around 6,000 words. Identify relevant literature and any issues for research. If you are planning empirical work then outline your data sources and timeline. Don’t forget to include your bibliography.

View Research Plan on our Module Directory


EC991-8-AU or EC993-8-AU or EC995-8-AU


EC991-8-AU or EC993-8-AU or EC995-8-AU


Economics - Completion


The Department provides advanced research training PhD modules in the first year of the PhD. Students must take PhD modules offered in the Autumn Term.

Starting no later than Spring Term, students are then required to work towards their dissertation research under the supervision of their dissertation supervisors. This starts with identifying a suitable research topic and plan with guidance of their supervisors.

Continuation in the PhD programme is conditional good performance in both the doctoral modules and in the research plan module and presenting the research plan in the student Research Strategy Seminar series.

We expect full-time students in this PhD programme to complete their PhD studies within four years of entering, so you are monitored regularly to ensure you are progressing.

During your thesis research period, you will have a supervisory panel meeting twice a year which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months. In the completion period you should be revising and rewriting chapters. You then submit your approved thesis for examination.

The support provided by your supervisors is a key feature of your experience as a research student. Your supervisors guide you through the different stages of your research degree. Initially they help you to develop your research topic and plan, and then you participate in regular individual meetings to comment on drafts, resolve problems and to maintain progress on your research.

You'll also have access to other research training opportunities via the University's unique Proficio funding scheme. In addition, the University's participation in networks such as the ESRC SeNSS DTP and Eastern ARC can provide additional opportunities for training.

The PhD programme is offered as full-time study only in the first year. It may be possible to continue studies on a part time basis from the second year onward, subject to approval.

Professional development

Our department offers paid opportunities for both Graduate Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. The Proficio scheme also provides funding for professional development. We also provide career development support, especially in your final year, with practice presentations, interviews, and other activities to prepare you for the international job market for PhD economists.


Our department maintains a lively, friendly, and supportive atmosphere for research. We also provide a number of training opportunities and support services to aid your studies and to help prepare you for employment:

  • Proficio: Proficio is our innovative professional development scheme for postgraduate research students, unique to Essex. We believe that your academic and professional development is vital to your growth as a postgraduate research student and we give you funds that can be spent on a variety of courses and conferences.
  • Teaching Opportunities: Our department offers paid opportunities for both Graduate Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants.


In your completion year you should be revising and rewriting chapters. You submit your approved thesis to an internal reader for comments, and then submit your final thesis before the end of the academic year.

We expect our PhD students to complete their PhD within four years of entering, so you are monitored regularly to ensure you are progressing.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£4,786 per year

International fee

£18,750 per year

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

For our economics research degrees, you do not need to contact a potential supervisor before applying. However, you should prepare a research proposal and provide reference letters from your current or past supervisors and/or teachers who know you well to illustrate how you approach research questions.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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