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Studying Economics at Cambridge or Oxford?

Economics at both Cambridge and Oxford have enjoyed worldwide unrivalled reputation, and have seen the most intense competitions for admission every year. Since top-notched candidates could apply to only one of these two universities in the same entrance, they should know to distinguish the differences and find out which programme fits them best before the application.


Undergraduate Economics studies at Cambridge University provides a sound understanding of core, pure and applied economics while Oxford economics does not offer a single-honours degree for Economics; there are three bachelors programmes where students can study Economics alongside another subject: Economics & Management (E&M), Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), and History & Economics (H&E). By combining Economics and other disciplines, these programmes offer a balance of different perspectives and approaches that complement and equip students with a broad scope of knowledge and applications.


However, Cambridge economics provides their own flexibility in a different direction. While focusing on one subject initially economics, the university the allows students to combine Economics with another subject at a later stage. For example, by taking 1-2 years of Economics before transferring to another subject such as Law or Management Studies. Students can also study another subject such as Mathematics for one year before transferring to Part IIA Economics.


Admission Requirements

Both universities set high standards for admission requirements, with the most distinct difference lies in Mathematics.


A-level or IB Higher Level Mathematics (or an equivalent qualification) is essential for the application for Cambridge economics. Offers to admitted candidates are typically conditional on achieving an A* for A-level Maths or 7 for IB Higher Level Maths. E&M at Oxford requires candidates to have Mathematics to A-level (A* or A grade), Higher Level in the IB (score 6 or 7) or another equivalent while PPE and H&E do not have specific requirements.


Cambridge also suggests candidates to take Further Maths at AS/A level or IB Higher Level, which is very useful considering the mathematical and statistical contents of the course, while the three programmes at Oxford do not have specific requirements for it.


Hong Kong applicants who take HKDSE are required to take extended Module 1 or 2 to apply for Cambridge economics; while Oxford does not have such requirements.


Pre-interview assessments are also required by both universities. Please refer to our previous posts https://www.nh.edu.hk/post/university-pre-interview-assessment-series-tsa and https://www.nh.edu.hk/post/cambridge-economics-admission-series-ecaa for details.


Which to Choose?

We strongly suggest candidates do through research and take following factors into consideration before making application decision:

  • Mathematical ability: admission requirements, pre-interview assessment and course study at Cambridge demand stronger mathematical ability;


  • Pre-interview assessment: which one that candidates are confident to take? ECAA at Cambridge tests Maths and writing, and TSA at Oxford focuses more on critical thinking and problem solving skills;


  • Admission rate: the three-year (2018-2020) success admission rate is 6% for E&M Oxford, 11% for PPE and H&E respectively; the success rate (2020 enrollment) is 12.1% for Cambridge economics;


  • Interest and passion: interested in studying economics or in other fields such as management as well?


Are you more suitable for Cambridge or Oxford? Won't know until you dig deep into their differences and also see whether you have what it takes, right?


Norton House has helped many candidates to gain admission by Oxbridge economics and other courses and universities. Please feel free to contact us if you need professional coaching and planning services.

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