Modern economic theory and development

December 2, 2015
Slide 9

The MSc is a taught graduate degree in development economics with strong emphasis on bringing methods of modern economic analysis to development theory and policy. It aims to prepare students for further academic research and for work as professional economists on development issues in international agencies, governments or the private sector by providing the rigorous training in economic analysis and quantitative techniques that research and applied work in the development field now requires. The course is taken in one year and normally admits around 30 students a year.


The course is taught through a combination of lectures, classes and essay writing with individual supervisors. The tutorial system (writing essays for the supervisor) is used to build critical and analytical skills, and is particularly beneficial to students from a different background of instruction (typically these comprise over three-quarters of the MSc student population). There are weekly classes and lectures in economic theory (split between macro and microeconomics) and econometrics, and a sequence of elective development modules taught by lectures, seminars and student presentations. The quantitative methods course includes hands-on training in the use of specialist statistical software. Specific issues in development economics cover such topics as poverty, inequality, education, health, rural development, political economy institutions, risk, globalisation, corruption and macroeconomic management. Students receive further teaching from individual supervision.

A central component of the course is a 10, 000 word Extended Essay written on a subject chosen by the student in consultation with the supervisor, and agreed with the Course Director. The MSc examination at the end of the summer term currently has three written papers (Economic Theory, Quantitative Methods and Development Economics); the Extended Essay is assigned one quarter of the weight of the final result.

Entry Requirements

It is essential for applicants to apply early and respect the deadlines.


Graduates of the MSc are well received by the job market: for instance, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) regularly takes MSc students for overseas postings, and graduates have been employed in international institutions working on development. Significant numbers of MSc graduates now work in the Department for International Development and in the major international financial institutions (World Bank, IMF, UN organization). Two to three graduates each year are accepted to read for the DPhil in Economics at Oxford, and some return after a few years of work experience to start on doctoral work.

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