The Economics Tripos is divided into two Parts. Part I is studied in the first year and Part II over the second and third years.

For Part I students study five compulsory papers which provide a thorough grounding in:

  • microeconomics
  • macroeconomics
  • mathematical and statistical skills
  • the application of economics in an historical and a social context.

Part II is divided into IIa, taken in the second year, and IIb in the third year. Part IIa provides for advanced microeconomics and macroeconomics theory and a paper in econometrics, the ways numerical data can be used to measure and test economic theories. One further paper is required from a choice of four:

  • economic development
  • modern societies
  • mathematics for economists and statisticians
  • labour.

The final year applies the theory gained in the second year to the further study of the core subjects, microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students also take two papers chosen from a wide range of options and write a compulsory dissertation on an approved economics subject chosen in consultation with the Director of Studies.

In addition to lectures and supervisions, the Downing College Mathias Economics Society provides a forum for debate and there are regular guest lecturers from academia, business and the City. The Society also hosts an annual dinner and in recent years Downing Economics alumni have been encouraged to return to share their work experiences with current undergraduates. These meetings and other informal contacts help to create a close economic community at Downing and make the study of Economics here an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Entry requirements

Currently, Downing College admits about eight students annually to read for the Economics Tripos. Over the previous three years, the ratio of the average number of applicants to offers made in Economics has been 64:8.

To be considered, applicants must have studied Mathematics to GCE A2 or its equivalent. While Further Mathematics is not a requirement, if the option is available, it would be very useful given the mathematical content of the courses. Some schools do not offer Further Mathematics at AS or A2 and these candidates will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

Economics undergraduates come from a range of academic backgrounds. While many successful applicants have studied Economics to A2 Level, candidates are often admitted who have not done so and they go on to achieve very good results in the Economics Tripos. Candidates who have not studied Economics before will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

All applicants are required to take the pre-interview written assessment for Economics.  Further information can be found here:

Interview process

Economics applicants receive two 30-minute interviews on the same day, each with two interviewers. Both interviews aim to assess the candidate’s intellectual ability and potential. One interview is largely economics based, although more general questions may also be asked.

The other interview focuses on the kind of mathematical skills needed in the Economics Tripos at Cambridge.

It is expected that those wishing to study Economics at Downing who are studying Economics at A2 or its equivalent will have found time to extend their reading beyond the confines of the syllabus. Those not studying Economics at A2 will be expected to have some knowledge of current economic issues such as would be gained from reading broadsheet newspapers like the Financial Times or the Economist.

Written work is not requested prior to interviews.

Further advice about entry requirements and interviews for all subjects can be found in the Applying to Downing section of this site.

Introductory reading for students

These titles are given as a guide to help applicants gain a better understanding of the subject matter. They are not intended as preparatory reading and interviewers will not expect candidates necessarily to have read any of these titles.

  • D. S. Landes, (1999), The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Are Some So Rich and Others So Poor? Abacus.
  • W. Morgan, M. Katz and H. Rosen, (2006), Microeconomics, European Edition, McGraw-Hill Education.
  • O. Blanchard (2009), Macroeconomics, fifth edition, Pearson Education.
  • R. Easterlin (2004), The Reluctant Economist: Perspectives on Economics, Economics History and Demography, Cambridge University Press.

Further details about the Economics course can be found at the University of Cambridge site.