What to consider when applying

Academic excellence

This is even more important a consideration than it was at undergraduate level. Although there is a correlation between excellence as an undergraduate institution and excellence as a postgraduate institution, it is not perfect. The rankings that departments usually care about the most (in part because they determine a large amount of their funding) is the Research Excellence Framework (REF), previously known as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The rankings vary from 1 to 5* (where 5* is ‘world class’).

These tables are made infrequently. Here are the results of the most recent assessment in 2021. Results for 2014 are also still available. These results are a good place to start but departments are likely to change.

Here are some recommendations for the content of the graduate Economics core from a group of researchers in the USA. Although the article is directed at lecturers, it will provide you with some direction as you choose your graduate course.

Academic specialisms

These are also important. If you intend to do a PhD after your Master’s, you might already have an idea which general area you would like to specialise in. In this case, it is worth asking your lecturers which departments are particularly strong in a certain field. You might even tentatively identify some academics to approach as supervisors.

Fees and Financial support

This varies considerably, as mentioned above, and you should think about it carefully. Of course, higher fees might be a signal of better quality so don’t just go straight for the cheapest option. More information on funding is available on the funding page.