Case study

MSc Economics graduate — Oliver Websdell

Oliver studied economics at the University of Liverpool and now works as a data insight analyst at Ombudsman Services

Why did you choose this institution and course?

I really enjoyed my final year of undergraduate study, and some good exam results made me think more seriously about continuing to postgraduate level. I chose to stay at the University of Liverpool because I knew that I liked the lecturers, and the class sizes on the course were smaller than other universities meaning that I would get a more tailored experience.

The University of Liverpool offered a study award of £3,000 towards my fees as I attained a first class in my BSc degree. I also worked full time in a call centre over the summer to pay my tuition fees, and then worked part time at the Guild of Students alongside my studies to fund my maintenance costs. Towards the end of my course I spent the summer working part time for the Business Gateway department of the university while completing my thesis.

What did the course involve?

The course was extremely rigorous and exactly what I signed up for. The first two weeks consist of daily lectures on a range of topics, such as pure maths and statistics, designed to give you the skills necessary to do well on the programme.

There is a clear difference between the undergraduate and postgraduate courses. While assessments in the undergraduate course will often ask students to use a technique to find a solution, the postgraduate course asks students to show, prove, and explain how the technique works and why the solution is correct.

My dissertation looked at the effect of policy in natural monopolies on the consumer. Natural monopolies are economies where it makes sense to allow only one firm to operate, like markets for network goods such as energy and rail. My question asked 'what was the best policy from the consumer's point of view and which was most costly on society'. I was able to put what I had learned about game theory and mechanism design to use by creating a system of equations that model the relationship between the consumer and the firm(s).

How did the course prepare you for employment?

Econometrics is a core part of both the undergraduate and postgraduate economics courses at Liverpool. At postgraduate level, the focus is on understanding information and why we deal with it in the ways that we choose. Outside of lectures, I also learned to use the Management School's Bloomberg terminals which allowed me to export live market data that I used to practice analysis techniques.

The course is designed to prepare people for economic research, so the tools and skills that it provides are particularly useful in problem-solving and investigation industries like consultancy. Mathematics is an important foundation that can be tailored towards many different specific professions, so the options really are open to the individual's interests.

What advice would you give to those considering the course?

It sounds obvious, but make sure that you understand the course that you are signing up for, and that you are signing up for the right reasons. If you love learning, want to challenge yourself, and want better understanding, you will have a great time.

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