Economics has a strong tradition in the College, associated in particular with the name of the former Fellow Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), who first formulated many of the concepts still used by economists today. Marshall believed that the purpose of Economics is to improve human welfare based on analytical understanding, and this philosophy still guides our teaching of the subject today. We aim to teach our Economics students how to use the analytical framework of the subject to think about issues such as why some countries are rich and others poor. The ability to reason as an economist and to assess economic evidence is valuable to a student in later life even if he or she does not become a professional economist.

St John’s admits about eleven undergraduates each year. All supervisions in micro and macro are done by Fellows of the College, usually in small groups of about three but also in larger classes or seminars, depending on the subject. The College makes generous book grants available and has a well-stocked Economics section in the library. There is also an active College Economics Society, run by the undergraduates.


Courses in Economics

The undergraduate course in Economics in Cambridge, commonly called the Economics Tripos, is a three-year program that leads to the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics. There is an exam at the end of each year.

The first year (Part I) of the Economics Tripos consists of five compulsory subjects: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative Methods in Economics, Political and Sociological Aspects of Economics, and British Economic History.

The second year (Part IIA) consists of four subjects of which three are compulsory: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Theory and Practice of Econometrics. The optional subject is chosen from the following list: International Trade and Development; Modern Societies; Mathematics and Statistics for Economists; Labour; Modern State and its Alternatives; International Conflict, Order and Justice; History and Philosophy of Economics; and World Depression in the Interwar Years.

The final year (Part IIB) of the Economics Tripos consists of two compulsory subjects, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, two optional subjects, and a compulsory dissertation. A large range of optional subjects is available which can vary from year to year: Economic Theory and Analysis; Political Economy; Banking and Finance; Public Economics; The Economics of Developing Countries; Industry; Theory and Practice of Econometrics; Global Capitalism; British and European Politics; and a number of papers in Sociology and Politics (offered by the Department of Sociology and the Department of Politics and International Studies). The dissertation is on an economic topic chosen by the student and counts for a fifth of the Part IIB coursework.

It is possible to change from the Economics Tripos to other Triposes, for example to Law or History after Part I, or to Management Studies after Part IIA. It is also possible to switch to Part IIA of the Economics Tripos from certain other Triposes, such as Mathematics.

Entry Details

UCAS Code: L100

Typical Entry Requirements

A Level: A*A*A, with A* in Mathematics

International Baccalaureate: 42 points with 776 at Higher Level including 7 in Higher Level Mathematics

Essential Subjects: A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics

Desirable Subjects: A Level/IB Higher Further Mathematics. If your school doesn’t offer Further Mathematics then you can instead follow the Advanced Maths Support Programme.

Submitted Work: None

Pre-interview Assessment: Students must take the Economics Admissions Assessment (ECAA) consisting of an essay (60 minutes) and Maths multiple choice (60 minutes) section. More information can be found here.

We do not require applicants to have studied Economics. We look for strong mathematical and overall academic ability in our Economics applicants. 


Admissions Interviews

There is one admissions interview for Economics, which is held by two Economics Fellows on Zoom and lasts around 35 to 45 minutes. The purpose of this interview is to assess your aptitude for studying Economics at Cambridge. At the interview we usually ask a broad question that gives you the opportunity to show your interest in and general understanding of Economics. Of course, we take into account whether you have studied it at school. In addition, we will ask you questions about an article that we will send you some days prior to the interview. We will assess your understanding of this article, which will be on some economic issue(s). You should study this article carefully in advance, because you will not be allowed access to it during the interview. Furthermore, we will assess your mathematical proficiency at the interview. For instance, you may be asked to sketch the graph of a particular function and analyse other properties of it. You must use a tablet and stylus for this (St John's will help if you don't have access to these). In addition, we may show you a paragraph during the interview and ask you to assess the strength of its argument(s). You may also be asked questions about your personal statement if we would like to know more about some aspect(s) of it.