MRes/PhD Economics

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Economics
  • Application code L1U4
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

This programme offers you the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of economics. You will begin on the MRes degree, and will need to meet certain requirements to progress to the PhD.

The Department of Economics pioneered the development of systematic research training in economics in Britain and our MRes/PhD Economics aims for the highest international standard of achievement and professional competence. The programme offers structured research training and supervision by faculty prominent in their fields. It begins with two years of rigorous coursework, equipping you with the theoretical knowledge and analytical techniques necessary to proceed to the research component of the programme. 

Many research students are associated with the work of one of LSE's research centres. You could work with the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines on areas ranging from development economics to public policy; or on research technology, growth and globalisation as part of the Centre for Economic Performance. You could contribute to major research programmes addressing the key issues of unemployment, fiscal austerity, financial markets and shifts in the world economy at the Centre for Macroeconomics; or specialise in risk management, asset pricing, financial institutions and corporate finance as part of the Financial Markets Group.

Teaching and learning in Michaelmas Term 2020 
Information on how LSE will deliver teaching and learning in Michaelmas term can be found here.

Programme details

Key facts

MRes/PhD Economics
Start date Introductory course in Mathematics and Statistics begins in August 2020
Application deadline 12 December 2019
Duration Five to six years full-time: two years MRes, three to four years PhD 
Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,435 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £19,368 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 12 December 2019)
ESRC funding (deadline 12 December 2019)
Departmental scholarships may be available
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent in any field, along with some preparation in economics, a strong mathematics background and evidence of research potential
GRE/GMAT requirement GRE is required for all applicants
English language requirements Standard (see 'Assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MRes/PhD Economics

An upper second class honours (2:1) degree (or equivalent) in any field. Some preparation in economics, a strong mathematics background and evidence of research potential are essential. The goal of the MRes/PhD Economics is to train first class researchers. We will use all available information to assess research potential.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

GRE/GMAT requirement

GRE is required for all applicants. This must be no more than five years old on 1 October 2020 and must show full and percentile scores for all three sections. Most successful MRes/PhD Economics applicants score 166 or above in the quantitative section.

Find out more about GRE/GMAT

Assessing your application

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- statement of academic purpose
- references
- CV
- research statement

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do. See our English language requirements for further information.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 12 December 2019. However to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must also have submitted your application and all supporting documents by this deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Research statement

An application for 2020 entry to the MRes/PhD Economics should include a Research Statement, along with other required information  (Note: A separate sample of written work is not required as part of the MRes/PhD Economics application).

What should my Research Statement contain?

Your Research Statement should be submitted in place of the Outline Research Proposal, along with your application form and other required supporting documents, via the LSE online application system.

Please answer the following questions clearly and concisely. Max 200 words per question.

  1. Why do you want to do research in economics?
  2. Can you explain how your studies and experience make you suitable to do research in economics?
  3. Which aspect of the PhD do you think you will like the most? Which will you dislike the most? Why?
  4. Tell us about your favourite paper in economics. What do you like about it? How would you improve it?
  5. Write a comment for a general audience on ONE of the following topics 
    (i) Is inequality good for growth?  
    (ii) Do immigrants take the jobs of native workers?  
    (iii) Is CEO compensation excessive? 
    (iv) Is universal minimum income a good idea? 
    (v) Overall, has central banks' move to inflation targeting has been a success? 
    (vi) Is culture an important determinant of differences in income per capita across countries? 
    (vii) Markets function well as information is aggregated efficiently through prices. 
    (viii) Elections are effective at disciplining politicians who do not have the public interest as their main goal.

How can I demonstrate research potential?

If you have served as research assistant for an economist please ask that person to write a letter focussing on your research skills and describe your experience – reference point 2 (above) of the research statement.

If not, please list any evidence you think would be valuable. Examples include but are not restricted to: experience working autonomously under stress without any guidance, demonstration of creativity in any form, experience of writing original research.

Programme structure and courses

Introductory course (MRes)

In early September, before the academic year commences, you will begin your degree programme by taking the Introductory Mathematics and Statistics course.

First year (MRes)

In the first year of the programme you will take advanced core courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, to equip you with the theoretical knowledge and analytical techniques necessary for research. Permission must be obtained to sit Econometric Analysis as it is intended for students with a strong econometric background and an interest in pursuing a PhD with econometrics as the primary field.

Microeconomics for MRes students
Introduces the basic analytical tools that are necessary to conduct research in any field in economics.

Macroeconomics for MRes students
Covers topics in advanced macroeconomics with emphasis on fundamentals and applications to recent theoretical advances.

Econometrics for MRes students
Covers inference, classical and generalised linear regression, generalised regression methods, time-series, panel-data, and microeconometric methods, and specialised econometric methods.
Econometric Analysis
Gives an advanced treatment of the theory of estimation and inference for econometric models.

Second year (MRes)

In the second year, you will typically take two PhD field courses and write a research paper in your major field. Currently, there are economics PhD field courses covering: econometrics, international, labour, public, development, industrial, microeconomics, macroeconomics, political economy. In addition, there are PhD field courses offered in Corporate Finance and Asset Pricing. From the second year onwards, you will also participate in a departmental research seminar and a work in progress seminar allied to your major research field.

Research Paper in Economics
A research paper, between 5,000 and 10,000 words, related to the student's designated major field, to be submitted mid-way through the summer term.

Two courses from a range of options


Upon successfully completing the MRes and progressing to the PhD, you will work on your research and write your PhD thesis. You will also take one further PhD field course. You will also attend Work in Progress seminars, where you present your research, as well as the weekly departmental seminar series closest to your major field.

One course from a range of options.

Second and subsequent years of the PhD programme

You will continue to work on your research and write a PhD thesis. You will also continue to attend Work in Progress seminars, where you present your research, as well as the weekly departmental seminar series closest to your major field.

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises. 

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment


You will be assigned a lead supervisor (and a second supervisor/adviser) who is a specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. Lead supervisors guide you through your studies.

Progression and assessment

In order to progress to each subsequent year of the programme, and to progress to PhD registration, you will need to meet specific progression requirements, such as achieving certain grades in your coursework.

Your final award will be determined by the completion of an original research thesis and a viva oral examination.

More about progression requirements

Preliminary reading

Readings are included in the respective course guides in the Calendar


Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career.
See information on the placements of previous students on this programme

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme


Starting from the second year of the MRes, students are encouraged to undertake some class teaching in the Department, as this represents useful professional training. Additional information about teaching in the Department.

Support for your career

Many leading organisations in the field give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Student stories

Hanwei Huang
MRes/PhD Economics, 2018

Hanwei Huang

I am a PhD student studying economics in the LSE. I am also affiliated with the Centre of Economic Performance (CEP), one of the largest research centres in the LSE. My main research interest is international trade.

One thing that I have learned from the faculties is that economics is not just about mathematics, it should answer interesting economics questions. Over the past few years in the LSE, I have been conducting a few research related to China. This is not surprising given my Chinese origin. Given the anti-globalization current that we have been witnessing, it is also quite relevant to the academic and policy circle to understand how China has become a global manufacturing power house and the champion of global trade.

My work features a close link between theory and empirics, another lesson I have learned in the LSE. My first piece of work done in the LSE focuses on the evolving structure of Chinese production and export. My second paper, which is a joint work with my supervisor Professor Ottaviano, studies how Chinese exporter producing multiple products respond to competition due to comparative advantage. My current research project studies how the domestic infrastructure construction boom that has been taking place in China has enabled China to make better use of globalization.

The most exciting part of LSE is that we are seated near the centre of the UK policy-making. I am fortunate enough to be able to be on a team from the CEP which has been studying various issues related to Brexit. It is only by doing this bit of work that I have seen how LSE research has shaped the debate in the media and the UK parliament.

As a one of the largest economics departments in the world, with numerous seminars and visitors every week, you bump into various people all the time. You might run into a workshop introducing machine learning. You might also hear people talking about big data in the Bean Counter, where we have our coffee. And I am very glad to be one of them here.

Stephan Maurer
MRes/PhD Economics, 2017

Stephan Maurer

I came to the LSE in 2011 after having completed my MSc in Economics at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. Already during my undergraduate studies in St. Gallen, I had gotten hooked to economics and to the idea of doing a PhD, and my time in Barcelona further confirmed this.

My research is in applied economics broadly, at the intersection of labour economics, political economy, and economic history. Economic history is for me both a tool and an end itself - I am interested in better understanding historical events, but I also frequently use exogenous variation provided by history to study questions in labour economics and political economy.

What I really like about research and the academic profession is that it offers a lot of freedom and allows me to work independently on a variety of issues. For example, I have studied determinants of city growth in Iron Age Europe, but also local economic effects of resource booms in the early 20th century US South. I also enjoy teaching - during my time here, I have taught various courses and have found it very enriching. Being asked to explain concepts such that students can understand them often has deepened my own understanding. In this respect, I particularly enjoyed teaching in the MPA and MSc Programmes.

Research can also be frustrating. It involves a great deal of failed projects, ideas that do not materialize, and work that does not reap rewards. It is also very discontinuous - you can make great progress in few days, or feel like you’re banging your head against a wall for months. I was lucky to have two very dedicated supervisors to guide me through my PhD, helping me triage my ideas, strengthening my results by constantly questioning them, but also cheering me up when needed. My colleagues and friends at the LSE have also been a great help, not only but especially those from my cohort. Studying for the first year exams and going through the first research steps together has created a lot of cohesion and friendships that I am sure will continue to last for a long time.

After finishing my PhD, I will be joining the Department of Economics at the University of Konstanz as an Assistant Professor. I am very much looking forward to this new endeavour, but I will make sure to be back in London and at the LSE from time to time!

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2020/21 for MRes/PhD Economics

UK/EU students: £4,435 for the first year (provisional)
Overseas students: £19,368 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges UK/EU research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £13 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, the EU and outside the EU.

This programme is eligible for LSE PhD Studentships, and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding. Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.  

For the MRes/PhD Economics, the funding deadline is the same as the application deadline for the programme: 12 December 2019.

The Economics Department also has a number of scholarship packages for direct entry MRes/PhD students. After the first year of the MRes/PhD Economics, there are teaching and research assistantships available in the Department. Read more about funding opportunities through the Economics Department.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

External funding

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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