Students Staff

PhD courses

Postgraduate study

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Learn to look at the world through an economist's lens, taking a critical approach to dismantle a proposition and working with big data and robust methodologies to build an argument.

We're rated 5th in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014), with 93% of our research rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

Located at the heart of an internationally recognised social science network, you receive advanced research training, expert supervision to support progression through the programme and top quality research facilities.

We know you need access to computers and a quiet place to work so we guarantee office space for you in our PhD Research Centre.

Our staff have expertise in a wide range of areas covering microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and applied economics.

Routes to a PhD

We encourage prospective research students to apply for our four-year MRes and PhD route. You study for our MRes Economics in your first year. This is a great route to our PhD and gives you the tools to pursue research at doctoral level, developing your expert research mind-set. You then go on to complete your PhD.

We’ll consider applicants with an exceptional academic record at undergraduate and Master’s level for direct entry to our PhD, either for three years full-time, or five years part-time.

You can only do the part-time PhD from the 2nd year. In the first year of our PhD, all our Economic students need to attend on a full time basis. Once you commence the PhD, the first two terms (Oct-Apr) will consist of modules, seminars and coursework. This includes attending taught course lectures and classes in the autumn term and taking exams in late January. Re-sits are taken in May/June. You can request to change to part-time study away for years two and three however, you would need to make the request to your supervisor, the Graduate Director and then to the Dean of the Education. You will also need to check with our Immigration department to see Tier 4 student visa conditions permit you to study part-time. If you were permitted to do part-time you would need to be available to come onto campus occasionally during the years to attend seminars, supervisory sessions and supervisory board meetings. We would not recommend living out of the country throughout the minimum period of your PhD

An MPhil involves a minimum of two years of full-time research and a thesis with a maximum length of 50,000 words. Each successful MPhil thesis makes an original contribution to Economics, though of a less substantial nature than required for the award of a PhD.

First year

In the first year of the MPhil programme each student must take doctoral modules in the Autumn Term. Examinations for these modules will take place in January/February; continuation in the MPhil programme is conditional upon passing the modules (i.e. obtaining a mark of at least 60). Where necessary, re-sit examinations will be held in May/June. Students are also required to work towards a research paper starting with identifying an acceptable topic for the paper. Students must also obtain a mark of 60 on the paper in order to continue on the PhD programme. Students are encouraged to identify a suitable research topic and a supervisor in consultation with faculty members. This should be completed in the first half of the spring term. The Director of Research Students will act as interim supervisor until a permanent one is appointed Note: the Department does not assign supervisors to students prior to their registration at the University.

You are also required to submit a Research Proposal (EC990) by the end of the first week of the Summer term (late April). In order to progress to the second year, you must obtain a mark of at least 50% (the pass mark) in all of your modules as well as your research proposal.

Second year

You complete your theses with the guidance of your supervisor. You also participate in the Research Strategy Seminar, presenting your research. Your progress is monitored by a Supervisory Board, which meets at least twice per year and reports to the Department's Research Students' Progress Committee.



You can attend our seminar programme where academics from outside Essex present their research. You may also be interested seminar programmes by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Centre for Computational Finance and Economic Agents. You can also attend other postgraduate or graduate modules in the Department of Economics or elsewhere in the University.

Supervision topics

We offer expert supervision on a wide range of applied and theoretical topics, including:

  • microeconomics
  • macroeconomics
  • industrial organisation
  • econometrics
  • economic history
  • economic theory
  • applied economics
  • labour economics
  • financial economics
  • public economics
  • development economics
  • monetary economics
  • management economics
  • international economics
  • game theory and applications
  • search and matching
  • networks
  • family economics

This isn't an exhaustive list, so if you're looking to carry out research in a different area please contact us to discuss it further.

Why Essex?


We play a leading role in the Essex ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The DTC has five fully-funded studentships available for high quality students working in economics and eight available for those working in advanced quantitative methods. You'll need to apply for your course and have a place before you apply for funding.

We also offer many other scholarships and funding opportunities. You can search our Scholarship Finder to see what's available.

Graduate teaching assistant opportunities

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) are vital to the development of our undergraduate students. As well as boosting your funding, being a GTA gives you many transferable skills which will help when you're looking for a job once you leave Essex.

If you'd like to apply, email your CV to Debbie Hall, Senior Graduate Administrator, at If you're an international student, you'll need to check our guidance on working in the UK during your studies.

Present your work

You can take part in our weekly Research Strategy Seminars where you present your work and discuss ongoing or completed research of your fellow students. We also have a weekly Wednesday Workshop to present your work and a weekly Departmental Seminar with academic speakers from outside the University.

How to apply

You can apply using our application form. You'll also need to send us additional information, depending on your circumstances, so don't forget to read the information carefully as we won't be able to process your application until we have the completed documents.

Research degree funding

Scientist conducting experiment

Join our internationally recognised research community. We’re home to several doctoral training centres and offer many research degree studentships and scholarships that could make your course fully-funded.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

Funding and training


Our Doctoral Training Centres offer PhD funding and skills training in a wide range of subject areas. You'll gain the skills and knowledge to tackle important issues facing the world today.



Proficio is our programme of courses and resources for research students. It includes everything available across our University to help you manage your PhD, develop your career potential, and meet and collaborate with students and staff.