Our Economics course provides a rounded, rigorous education in economics which is valuable for a wide range of career paths. Our course provides a sound understanding of core, pure and applied economics. However, while you study economics in considerable depth in this specialised degree, you employ ideas and techniques from many other disciplines too; including history, sociology, mathematics and statistics, and politics. Therefore, our graduates are extremely well qualified for a wide range of jobs and further courses.
There are three parts of the Economics Tripos. In Part I (the first year) everyone takes the same five papers: microeconomics, macroeconomics, quantitative methods in economics (basically maths and statistics), sociology and politics, and British economic history since 1750. In Part IIA (the second year) you must take papers in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, and you choose one (or exceptionally two) papers from the following: mathematics, sociology, economic development and labour economics. In Part IIB (the third year) you take papers in microeconomics and macroeconomics, choose two further papers from a long list of optional papers, and write a dissertation.
Teaching is divided between the Faculty and the College. Lectures, normally given in the morning, are provided by the Faculty. Students attend lectures with Economics students from all the Cambridge Colleges so numbers attending lectures often exceed 150. Supervisions, normally in groups of three to four students, are provided by the College and give students the opportunity to discuss topics with experts in the field. You are normally expected to submit written work in advance of each supervision. There are two or three supervisions a week, so the pace is tough!
King's College has a long tradition in Economics. It has been the home of many great economists, such as Richard Kahn, Nicholas Kaldor, John Maynard Keynes, Arthur Cecil Pigou, Joan Robinson, Richard Stone and Oliver Hart - the latter two of whom have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Among Cambridge Colleges, King's currently has one of the largest number of Economics Fellows who also teach and research in the University Faculty of Economics. They make up a vibrant, international and diverse group, with a variety of research interests such as macroeconomic and microeconomic theory, labour economics, game theory, market design and macroeconomic history. King's also has a large and friendly group of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Economics, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and receive careful support from the Fellows in College.
Fellows at King's in Economics:
The numbers admitted in Economics vary from year to year, but we rarely admit fewer than seven or more than ten undergraduates. We welcome candidates from all over the world.
As well as proficiency in English, qualifications in Mathematics are important and you need an A-level (or equivalent) in Maths - or better still Further Maths. You do not need to have studied Economics formally, but you will need to be fascinated both by how economic behaviour can be modelled in the abstract, and in past and present real-life economic behaviour.
All candidates for Economics at King's are required to take the pre-interview admissions assessment for Economics, which will take place in schools and other assessment centres. You must be registered in advance to take the assessment.
You will not be asked to submit any written work as part of your application.
If you are selected for interview in early December, you will be asked to arrive one hour before your interview. You will be given some reading material (a set of questions and some general reading), and you should then use the preparation hour before the interview to:
prepare answers to the questions. These will be problem questions, meant to test your analytical ability. They will not require advanced knowledge of Economics or Mathematics.
read and think about the reading material provided. This is usually a recent article from a newspaper or a magazine. Again, you may make notes if you wish to.
During the interview, amongst other material we will discuss your answers to the analytical questions and also talk about the reading you were given. We may also ask you to solve some new problems during the interview. Our Directior of Studies for Economics has provided some example questions for this which you can find in the downloads tab below.
Will has written about their experiences of studying Economics, including what attracted him to the course, the transition from school, supervisions and lectures, balancing the workload with extra-curricular activities, and the community at King's. His account is well worth reading to get a sense of what studying Economics at King's is really like.
There are no particular books which Economics applicants are required to read, but the Faculty provides reading advice and suggestions. George Polya's book, How to solve it, is a very useful book for Economics students to read in relation to problem solving, and the Director of Studies has provided some sample mathematical and analytical questions (see below).
Your school work in Mathematics is essential preparation for the Cambridge Economics course. If you are studying in a different qualification system and would like to consult an A-level textbook, we suggest L. Bostock and S. Chandler (2013) Core Maths for Advanced Level, 3rd edition. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. If your school does not offer Further Maths, you may be able to get support through the Further Mathematics support network (see the flowchart below). There are also Maths extension resources on the NRICH website :see particularly Maths for Economics, the explanation of 'rich' tasks, and curriculum links.
Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, CU Masterclasses and King's Open Days. UK Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.