I have always been interested in what makes society tick; the successful combination of Economics and Management merges two trains of thought into one and complement each other to explain societal interactions, and that drew me to apply.
The two things I enjoy most about the course are the diversity of the people and of the subject. E&M appeals to anyone regardless of background, and many students, including myself, represent countries from all around the world. Additionally, it is a unique subject in which we use both numerical and verbal explanations to show that even intuitive decisions can be reasoned.
E&M students are the only undergraduates with access to Said Business School, which has been one of the perks of the course. During prelim revision, it was refreshing to leave college and nest in the Business School library while finally understanding some of the concepts that seemed impossible when we first learned about them.
The course has been great. The large amount of choice means you can let your interests guide the structure of the course – some opt for mathematically rigorous papers, some shift the emphasis of the course to management, some dip their toes etc. I’ve maintained a focus on the economics but have tilted the emphasis to economic history and development economics, looking closely at issues such as the end of the USSR’s Command Economy and the efficacy of international aid (I thought they had more promise in the ‘interesting pub conversations’ sphere than econometric methodology, but that’s just me). However, while the learning has been great, as a finalist, I’m currently going through the least enjoyable part of the course - the inevitable misery/anxiety of preparing for finals.
In my second year, I got involved in a project with the Oxford Microfinance Initiative. I’d studied about microfinance as part of my course, and this project gave me the opportunity to fly to Egypt (fully funded), collect tons of first-hand data and analyse the expansion proposals of one of the country’s biggest microfinance organisations using what I’d learnt in the Quantitative Economics paper.
E&M is unique because it is a joint subject, and the halves complement each other closely; the programme also contains a healthy balance of both maths and essays. In the first year, students take three compulsory courses: economics, general management, and financial management. In the second and third years, students must take three compulsory economics and two management courses, and three of their choosing. The extensive list of course options allows students to structure their learning through their own preferences of courses. Because the course appeals to people from all different backgrounds and cultures, students learn not only from books and lectures, but also their peers, and E&M students tend to become close with others in the course across the university.
The tutorial system provides an intimate learning environment in which the tutors are truly invested in their students, and being able to work and discuss with peers enhances the learning process. The tutors and lecturers are all experts in their fields and have an abundance of knowledge to pass on. Additionally, the Said Business School has great facilities for E&M undergraduates to use.
As an interesting book, I read the Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, which brings up lots of concepts about poverty and development, some of which may be studied at A level, such as the poverty trap. It also links well with Geography for anyone who also studys that. I found it useful to read articles in The Economist, as well as online, for example on the BBC News website or some newspapers, as they are real life and current examples. Something to do if the school organises it is Target 2.0 (or alternatively Young Enterprise) as this gives hands on experience of economics and business ideas. Target 2.0 is where in a group you analyse real economic data and act as the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to decide on whether to change the interest rate and do a presentation of this to judges in a competition.
My first exposure to economics was the book Freakonomics. It’s a light-hearted easy read that introduces many economic concepts into the daily interactions within society, and it’s also on the reading recommendations by the university.
Taking Economics and Maths at A-level is extremely useful for the work in the course, and there are so many economics-related books to read by authors such as Milton Friedman, Steven Levitt, and more.
For my economics interview, I answered maths questions for one of the tutors. He asked them one at a time and gave me time to think and write down and discuss my answer. The questions started with A2 pure ones and went on to more testing ones where they wanted to see how I applied my current knowledge. The second part was a decision making exercise involving an output matrix and I was given various questions relating to different scenarios. Here they wanted to see my sequence of thoughts and how I got to a concluding answer.
My management interview was completely different! I was asked a variety of questions by the tutors about the subject, such as 'what do you understand strategic management to be?'. Then there were questions about any articles I had read and one or two about the subjects I took to A level and my personal statement, such as 'I see you take physics as an A level. Can you treat physics and management as being similar subjects?' and 'I see from your personal statement you do a lot of extra-curricular activates outside school. Which one would be most beneficial for a group of mangers to engage in and why?'
Applicants that might be offered a place are invited for interview in December.
Make sure you read the official prospectus entry for the course which contains entry requirements, full course structure, additional interesting resources and full details of the application process.
If you're going to apply, you'll want to check which Oxford colleges offer this course.