Economics at 5 leading UK universities

Thinking of what you could study in university? Why not consider Economics? According to the American Economic Association, Economics can be defined as “the study of scarcity, the study of how people use resources, or the study of decision-making.” Indeed, the field examines how human beings allocate limited resources to achieve certain ends, whether for survival, profit, or the general welfare of society.

Today, economists occupy prominent, high-paying positions in government and industry as analysts, researchers, consultants, policymakers, tax specialists, and more. They’re always in demand by employers because the field covers such a huge range of human activity. Here are some reasons why you should study economics:

Economics allows you to evaluate the state of the economy and make predictions

As an economics graduate, you’ll be able to dispense advice to businesses and the general public on the health of the economy. You will be familiar with common indicators like GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, consumer confidence, and public and private debt. You’ll be able to interpret economic trends and make predictions on how the economy will perform in the near and even distant future. This will lead you to investors who you must help decide where – which country and/or which industry – to park their money. Governments will also depend on you to discern the effects of policies on economic growth and competitiveness.


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Economics allows you to join the conversation on a huge range of topics

Free trade and immigration are now contentious topics in the West and many parts of the developing world. Global trade has grown rapidly over the last few decades, but is now blamed for the loss of jobs and depressed wages in the industrialised world. Immigration too has risen to stratospheric levels. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of people staying in a country other than their birth country is the highest that’s ever been recorded – 244 million (up from 232 million in 2013).

As an economist, you’ll be able to understand, analyse and shed light on these topics and many more for the benefit of society. You could advise and lobby governments on the proper policies to mitigate the adverse effects (if any) of these trends, while promoting economic growth. And you’ll be well-positioned to promote better public understanding of these topics based on empirical data.

Economics makes you comfortable with data

Economics understandably involves a lot of figures, graphs and charts. Through repeated practice, you will enhance your math and data collation skills, and gain the self-confidence to present your findings to the public.

Here’s what Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, had to say about the importance of data literacy: “The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.”


Image via the University of Warwick


Economics makes you a better decision-maker

Studying economics also prepares you for many of the key decisions you have to make in life. It equips you with the skills you need for maturity and independence. “How can you make decisions like what to do for a career, what to invest your money in or what bank to use, without having some knowledge about the economy? Through studying economics you develop a financial awareness that is extremely beneficial, no matter what your career aspirations may be,” said James McCullagh, a UK student and runner up in the 2011 Young Apprentice series on the BBC.

If these topics are of interest to you, perhaps you should consider the study of economics at one of these 5 leading UK universities:



Image courtesy of University of Edinburgh


Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities, consistently ranked in the Top 25 institutions globally. The School of Economics has an international reputation for research in economics and we have been teaching economics for over 200 years.

There has never been a more exciting time to study economics. The world urgently needs new thinking to understand and meet the challenges of an ever-changing economic climate.

Choose to study with us and you’ll explore issues such as economic growth and development, climate change and economic inequality, all vital for comprehending and influencing economic performance and policy. Throughout your studies, you’ll learn from world-leading economists, before following in the footsteps of graduates who are in high demand by national and international organisations.

Undergraduate degrees are four-years in length, and are known for being very flexible, with prospective undergraduates choosing from a single or joint honours programme, and prospective postgraduates choosing from an MSc in Economics, an MSc in Economics (Econometrics), or an MSc in Economics (Finance).

The University is also listed as one of the best in the world for the international mobility of its students, with graduates finding employment in a variety of fields, including:

  • Banking and Finance
  • Accounting and Consultancy
  • Theoretical and Applied Economic Research
  • Governments and international organisations

All of Edinburgh’s Economics degrees form a solid basis for further study or a career in Economics.



Image courtesy of University of Nottingham


The University of Nottingham’s position as a world-class university is confirmed by its ranking in the global league tables, standing at =70th in the world and in the top 1% of universities on an international scale.

Nottingham’s School of Economics is a recognised global leader in its field, boasting high-quality research that feeds into and inspires its teaching. The School currently ranks 8th in the UK in the prestigious QS World University Rankings, making it one of the largest and most highly-regarded Economics Departments in the country.

The School’s commitment to research cements its position at the cutting edge of contemporary economic thinking and analysis.


Incepted in 1965, the same year as its host University was established, the Department of Economics at Warwick has become well-known as one of the UK’s and Europe’s leading Economics Departments.

Warwick’s research into the field of Economics is continuing to produce ground-breaking insights to enhance growth, opportunity and worldwide well-being, whilst its innovative curriculum across both its undergraduate and graduate programmes provides outstanding training which is both intellectual and professional.

Some 50% of students enrolled in this department derive from overseas, making it one of the most internationally diverse specialist Schools in the UK.


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The University of Sheffield is a world Top 100 university, renowned for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of its research-led learning and teaching.

Both undergraduate and graduate students are taught by globally-respected economic experts, receiving the latest, cutting-edge instruction from people who care passionately for their subject. The Department’s research influences and informs real economic policy.

Staff are charged with advising government departments in the UK and internationally, as well as global organisations such as the European Union, the World Bank and the OECD.



Image courtesy of University of Bristol


The University of Bristol is one of the UK’s most popular and successful higher education providers, ranked within the Top 40 institutions in the world in the prestigious QS World University Rankings 2015.

The School of Economics, Finance and Management consists of three distinct departments: Economics, Accounting and Finance, and Management. Each of these departments produces world-leading research and contributes towards teaching at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

The School currently provides 13 single honours undergraduate courses, taking advantage of the specialisms of its three constituent departments, and three joint honours programmes with mathematics, politics and philosophy. It also hosts 9 postgraduate courses, and a part-time MSc degree in Strategy, Change and Leadership.

Feature image courtesy of University of Edinburgh

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