Entry requirements

Admission and Thesis Requirements: A good Masters degree in Economics is usually required for registration for the MPhil and PhD research degrees. Students are normally registered for the MPhil degree in the first instance. Once approval of the Department's Research Student Committee has been received, the student's registration is upgraded to PhD status (and backdated to the commencement of the MPhil registration), usually at the end of the first year of study. The normal period of study for a PhD degree is not less than three years of full-time study. Students in full-time employment or with other significant commitments may register for part-time study, for which the minimum registration period is double that of full-time study. Candidates are expected to present a thesis of not more than 55,000 words for the MPhil, while for the PhD the maximum length is 100,000 words.

Months of entry


Course content

Students whose qualifications indicate that they are able to pursue independent research may be accepted to read for a research degree (MPhil/ PhD). Normally a high level Masters degree in Economics or equivalent is a prerequisite. In general, the MSc as precondition of entry is sufficient to satisfy coursework requirements, especially as far as examinations are concerned. The first year of training involves attendance at courses and/or seminars but not formal written examinations. Almost all students are registered for an MPhil in their first (full-time equivalent) year only but convert to a Phd after their upgrade viva rather than continuing to the MPhil qualification.

There are a number of routes to obtaining a research degree from the Department of Economics. One, currently by far the most common, is to study for a PhD in Economics by being a student within the Department and supervised by a member of the Department. Another is to be within the Department and supervised by a member of the Department but to be attached to the newly created Phd pathway in International Development, ID, which is shared with the Department of Development Studies within SOAS and with other partners nearby through the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre. For details of this, please see: Scholarships and Bursaries. The ID pathway has the advantage of being eligible for award of ESRC Grants (see below on Scholarships and Funding). Last, and least common, it is possible to be a student within the Department studying for a Phd in Economics but to be supervised by a member of staff from another department. By the same token, it is possible for a Phd student from another department to be supervised by a member of the Economics Department. In these cases of cross-departmental supervision, by virtue of more appropriate expertise in another department, both departments must agree to the arrangement and make provision for it (especially supervision in a department other than that responsible for training and administering student progress).

An essential feature of the MPhil and PhD work is the close relationship between research students and supervisors. Supervisors and students meet regularly and consult closely. All research students have a supervisory committee to cover theoretical, empirical and regionally specific supervision, as appropriate. There is a Research Student Tutor with overall responsibility for research students, who is available for discussion of general problems. And the Departmental Empirical Support Committee (DESC) exists to offer detailed and individual advice to students about their fieldwork and empirical analysis as appropriate. As necessary, upon request, DESC will consider individual student needs and allocate one or more members of staff (not necessarily supervisor) to advise.

Students are required to participate in a workshop/seminar in which research topics and results are presented and discussed by staff and students. In addition, there is a regular departmental seminar, to which members of the department and visiting speakers present papers. There is a strong interdisciplinary basis for research and teaching, and SOAS can claim to be the leading institution in the world researching and teaching in political economy, development economics and area or specific country studies. London, moreover, provides an unrivalled opportunity for students to hear papers being read by leading authorities in African and Asian studies. Research students may choose from a wealth of seminars both in the School (especially in the regional and interdisciplinary centres) and in other colleges and institutes of the university.

For more details of the Departmental Programme, please see the 'structure' tab on this page.

Department specialisms

Political Economy; History of Economic Thought; Applied Econometrics; Agriculture; Mining and Energy; Environmental Economics; Foreign Trade; Foreign Investment and Aid; Money, Banking and Public Finance

Information for international students

Information, including English Language requirements, can be found here: https://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/international/

Fees and funding

There are a number of scholarships available to research (and MSc) students at SOAS please see: Scholarships for further information. But it is a condition of acceptance that students embarking upon a research degree have the capacity to fund the full duration of their study. There may be some paid opportunities for teaching, normally not in first year, but these cannot be relied upon and will not begin to cover fees and maintenance fully.

In the past, the Department was recognised by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, ESRC, in its MSc programmes to be eligible for funding of students, and received quota awards for MSc and research student support. Under the new system of ESRC support introduced in 2011/12, comprising Doctoral Training Centres, DTC, the Department is part of the recognised Bloomsbury DTC through participating in a pathway leading to a Phd in International Development. In this, subject to taking certain courses as options, all of the Department’s MScs are effectively recognised as eligible for ESRC funding of students but they must be registered for the MSc in Research in International Development Programme

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months


full time
24 months
part time
36 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Office
+44 (0)20 7898 4700