Why study a masters in Economics

Economics is a subject that is often grouped in with finance, accountancy and banking. While careers in those sectors attract economics graduates there is a lot more to economics than just the traditional business sectors. Here are some reasons why you could study a masters in economics.

Many people believe that economics is as mysterious as quantum mechanics. While a masters in economics does require skills in numeracy and statistics there is much more to this subject. Economics is just as rooted in everyday life, rather than only in complex theoretical equations.

Fundamentally, to study a masters economics is to understand how people and systems behave when presented with a number of situations. Economics effects individual choices about lifestyles, as well as businesses or government.

Think about why someone would be encouraged to choose healthy snacks at a supermarket checkout rather than crisps? Nudge theory is a key principal of behavioural economics. Through modelling patterns of behaviour in financial situations, an economist can examine how scenarios will impact on the future performance of markets or currency.

What is included in an economics masters degree

Economics is often allied with Business and Management, and while many universities include economics within their business faculty, in some research led universities it remains a separate school. These schools offer a different environment for study at masters level, and many postgraduate students stay on to continue with a PhD.

Most economics masters degrees are usually classified as MSc, because of the focus on analysis and statistics. Mathematics is a core skill you must be confident in to undertake a masters in economics. Theoretical models form the basis of economics teaching because they are reliable methods for assessing research.

Teaching modules such as econometrics, macroeconomics, microeconomics and research methods are usually compulsory. Optional modules allow you to focus on areas of business such as international finance, the environment, energy and technology.

Admission onto an economics masters is through completion of a relevant undergraduate degree, but some economics MA degrees are offered as conversion courses. This means you can achieve the same outcome through the addition of a number of additional units that are included in the core modules.

High achievers with a bachelors degree in economics with a top average mark and a research proposal of outstanding quality can consider a ‘1+3 PhD’. This gives you the chance to study for a masters then complete a PhD in economics.

The areas of research that are open to an economics masters degree student are excellent. This is where you can bring your ideas and interests into your study because there is scope for the development of new knowledge if you decide to progress into a PhD.

How long is a masters in economics?

The length of a masters in economics can vary, but they usually last between one and two years.

Different pathways in economics

There are many areas that can evolve out from a knowledge of economics, so these are a small selection of the themes that are covered by masters degrees: -

  • Behavioural economics:- The backbone of policy decision making within organisations. Similarly, economics graduates are drawn to work for the major consultancy companies such as McKinsey, and also for bodies seeking to influence opinions through lobbying government.
  • Finance and investment: - an obvious area that attracts economics graduates
  • Trade: - With the UK no longer part of the EU there will be many organisations looking to capitalise on the changed trading landscape that the UK is now part of. This could be looking to open up new markets or realise better trading conditions available in other territories.
  • Data modelling and Risk analysis: - Insurance and reinsurance are very important service sectors for the UK, so well qualified economics graduates are regularly approached to join management training schemes with international players in this sector.

Career choices with an economics masters degree

Students who study a masters in economics can look forward to many career pathways. All sectors of business welcome masters graduates in economics, so while your first job role may not be Senior Economist in time you can look forward to career success and a respectable salary.

A masters in economics from a reputable UK university is highly sought after. Some leading research led institutions share online the ratio of applications to admissions so that candidates get a realistic picture of their chances of securing a place.

Nevertheless, economics is offered at masters degree level at a wide range of UK universities. It is often combined with business masters degrees, and this is where students who want to become confident in analysis and statistical research can still benefit from these core subjects.

By completing a joint masters degree you can acquire additional skills in business management and associated topics such as finance, marketing or entrepreneurship.

The owner of a masters degree in economics is recognised by potential employers as a highly sought-after individual. Evidence for this comes from the employability surveys that regularly show the average salaries achieved by economics graduates is among the top 5%. Research conducted by the IFS in 2018 (and published by the BBC) showed the average earnings five years after graduation for Economics graduates was in the top two groups. A more detailed earnings analysis has now been undertaken as part of the UK Government LEO study.

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