Postgraduate Research Course

MPhil Economics

MPhil Economics


The details
October 2024
2 - 3 years
Colchester Campus

For our MPhil Economics within ISER, we offer supervision in applied microeconomics and microeconometrics, which should interest you if you plan to use socio-economic survey data in your research. We offer supervision in: economics of the family; education; migration; labour markets; retirement and pension; health economics; inequality, poverty and income distribution; public policy; and ethnicity. As we have extensive experience in the analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, we also welcome those interested in researching panel data and survival analysis, missing data, measurement error, endogeneity, and other estimation issues. You will be supervised by some of the world's leading experts in their field.

Studying with us will open doors to an academic career for you, as well as to a professional life in government departments, international organisations and statistical institutions. Several of our students now work at: Department of Economics, University of Chicago, USA; Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia; Department of Economics and Public Finance, University of Turin, Italy; Department of Economics, University of Linz, Austria; Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University, Italy; Applied Microeconomics Research Unit, University of Minho, Portugal; and School of Health Administration, Dalhousie University, Canada.

Please note, part-time research study is also available.

Why we're great.
  • Our Institute for Social and Economic Research enjoys an outstanding reputation at both a national and international level for cutting-edge and high profile research
  • Our research is used by academics and researchers around the world, by policy makers, by politicians and by journalists involved in ongoing debates about society
  • We receive consistently high level of support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Our expert staff

Within our Institute for Social and Economic Research, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.

The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.

Twice a year, you will have a supervisory board meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.

Specialist facilities

Our Institute for Social and Economic Research is home to the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, an interdisciplinary centre with a prestigious team of staff who have a wide range of expertise in social science disciplines, including economics, sociology, demography, geography, health research and statistics.

We are also home to the UK Longitudinal Studies Centre (ULSC), funded by the ESRC, which aims to promote longitudinal research. Our experienced and talented team support users of longitudinal data through the provision of advice, information, training in longitudinal analysis and resources to make data easier to use. Methodological research is carried out to improve longitudinal survey methods and to ensure the production of high quality data for users. We run the British Household Panel Survey, which has interviewed the same sample members since 1991, and Understanding Society, the world's largest longitudinal survey with 100,000 sample members from 40,000 households.

Our students are provided with their own desk, usually in a shared office, and have access to specialist resources such as The Hilary Doughty Research Library, with significant holdings of published and unpublished material on longitudinal and panel data methodology, and its application to economic and policy issues. In addition, you can use our variety of longitudinal and panel data sets, including the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and Understanding Society. Access to such unique materials enhances and furthers your individual research.

Your future

Some of our students now work at:

  • Department of Economics, University of Chicago, US
  • Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Department of Economics and Public Finance, University of Turin, Italy
  • Department of Economics, University of Linz, Austria
  • Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University, Italy
  • Applied Microeconomics Research Unit, University of Minho, Portugal
  • World Bank, US
  • School of Health Administration, Dalhousie University, Canada.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a good Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject.

You are also required to submit a well developed research proposal

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 or equivalent


Course structure

A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

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


Institute for Social and Economic Research - Research


Within our Institute for Social and Economic Research, our students invest time mainly working on their thesis under the supervision of one or two researchers. Most of the theses in ISER are organised in three main chapters, plus introduction and conclusions. Ideally, you should produce a complete draft of a new main chapter by the end of each academic year. If your chapter is judged of enough good quality, you can progress to the following year. You can decide to structure your thesis differently, if needed, but you should discuss and agree the structure with your supervisor.

We encourage our students to attend training courses whenever their research requires acquiring new skills. You are also invited to take part in our Institute for Social and Economic Research group meetings and to attend research seminars. You should also present your research work at our research student seminar series at least once per year.


Within our Institute for Social and Economic Research, our students are supposed to have a supervisory board meeting every six months to discuss progress, training needs and other issues. Any potential issue is considered at the Student Progress Research Committee.

You can enter into completion if, by the end of your third year, you have a complete draft of all thesis chapters (excluding introduction and conclusions) and these are of good quality.

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 our postgraduate courses online. You'll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won't be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline and we aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

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.

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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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