Economics (Four-Year) PhD

We provide a first-rate PhD programme, training students for both an academic career or for a career in the research units of central banks, governments or international bodies.

João Santos Silva Head of the School of Economics

Why choose this course?

The School of Economics has a leading reputation in research and teaching. In the REF 2014, the School ranked sixth nationally in research intensity, tenth in research output and twelfth overall. This represented an impressive improvement on its position of 21st in the RAE 2008.

Many staff members within the School publish in top academic journals and acting as economic advisors to governments and prestigious international organisations such as the IMF, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and HM Treasury.

Economics research at Surrey has both theoretical and policy-related relevance. The School has expertise in a wide range of areas, including macroeconomics, microeconomics, energy economics, health economics and econometrics.

We pride ourselves on the levels of supervision we provide and on our friendly, highly effective research atmosphere. 

What you will study

Our four-year PhD in Economics aims at producing first rate scholars who are sought-after by leading Economics Departments and Business schools, as well as research institutions around the world.

The first year is dedicated to core modules in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics, and to modules in Real Analysis offered by the Department of Mathematics. The content and the level of our courses are comparable to those offered by other top UK and international institutions. The second year provides specialized training in several areas of economics and econometrics, both from theoretical and empirical perspectives.

The last two years are dedicated to independent research, under the guidance of a supervisor and a co-supervisor. At the end of the programme, students submit a PhD dissertation that is examined by viva voce examination and will generally result in the publication of papers in highly rated economics/econometrics journals.

The Economics faculty includes leading researchers in several fields, including theoretical and applied microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, labour, development and international economics. Most members of the School of Economics regularly publish in top economics and general journals, and their work is recognised worldwide. This ensures first rate supervision in almost all areas.

In addition, the School has several visitors for shorter periods, and hosts regular seminars and field workshops. PhD students have the opportunity to contribute to the teaching and research activity of the School and are welcome to participate in seminars and present their own work in the field workshops.

In addition, students are encouraged to submit their paper to presentation at conferences, and funds are available for that.

Personal and professional development

We take your development as a well-rounded PhD student seriously and have put together a package of development opportunities that we believe will develop your research and teaching skills and put you in the best position to secure employment at the end of the programme.

In addition to the Researcher Development Programme, which is provided centrally to all PhD students at the University of Surrey, we offer a number of other learning opportunities. 

Research assistant opportunities

During the first two years, we will give you the opportunity to work alongside your research supervisor and other academic colleagues as a research assistant. You will be involved in activities such as conducting literature reviews, helping with data analysis and interpretation for current research projects and will play an active role in the research community of the School. These activities will typically be more intensive during the summer months.

Graduate Certificate of Higher Education

In the January of the second year of your programme, we offer you the opportunity to enrol on the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education programme offered at the University by our own highly regarded Department of Higher Education. You will learn about pedagogy, practice your teaching skills and receive a recognised teaching qualification that would allow you to become a member of the Higher Education Academy, which is recognised internationally.

Teaching opportunities

During the last two years of your study, and on successful completion of your teacher training, you will be offered the opportunity to take on a range of teaching activities, fully supported by your academic colleagues. These teaching opportunities will further reinforce your personal and academic skills and help to enhance your understanding of your subject area as well as adding significantly to your curriculum vitae.

Programme structure

Please note, this programme can only be started in October and studied on a full-time basis.

Year one

Core to the first year are PhD Foundation training units. These are the basis of research training, which is required for doctoral excellence.

Semester one

  • Advanced Econometrics 1
  • Advanced Macroeconomics 1
  • Advanced Microeconomics 1
  • Real Analysis 1

Semester two

  • Advanced Econometrics 2
  • Advanced Macroeconomics 2
  • Advanced Microeconomics 2
  • Real Analysis 2

If a student fails a module, then they have the opportunity to resit in the Summer resit period. To progress to the second year, students have to pass  all Year 1 modules.

Year one module overview

Advanced Econometrics 1

The module is organised in two parts. The first part of the module provides the analytical tools needed for deriving the limiting distributions of estimators in the context of linear models (OLS and instrumental variables) and nonlinear models (NLS and Generalized Method of Moments). Since in a finite sample, asymptotic approximations may not be accurate enough, the construction of bootstrap critical values is analysed to provide more accurate inference.

The second part of the module involves forecast evaluations, predictive density constructions, factor models, VAR and dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models, and (partial) identification of impulse response functions.

Advanced Econometrics 2

The module builds on Advanced Econometrics 1 and is organized in two parts. The first part covers recent topic financial econometrics, focusing on GARCH models, Stochastic Volatility, High Frequency Data, Realized Volatility Measure, and Jumps. The second part covers topics in Microeconometrics, focusing on Panel Data, Discrete Choice Models, Censored Models, and Duration Models.

Advanced Macroeconomics 1

This module gives the students a systematic way of thinking about macroeconomic issues by presenting the methodology and the tools used in the analysis of dynamic macroeconomic problems. It will cover a broad range of macroeconomic theories including economic growth, business cycle, unemployment and asset prices.

Topics covered include Markov chains and mathematical preliminaries, discrete time dynamic programming, asset pricing, numerical methods, equilibrium with complete markets, log-linearization and the solution of rational expectations models, the real business cycle model, New Keynesian models.

Advanced Macroeconomics 2

This module continues along the line of Advanced Macroeconometrics 1 and covers the following topics (not exhaustive):

  • Linear quadratic dynamic programming
  • Discretion vs commitment in monetary policy
  • Intro to time series econometrics and vars, as well as cointegration, bvars, svars and identification
  • Continuous time stochastic processes and frequency domain econometrics
  • Techniques for estimating DSGE models without the use of filters
  • Estimating DSGE models via Kalman filters
  • Introduction to nonlinear filtering
  • Numerical quadrature
  • Estimation of DSGE models via nonlinear filters
  • Continuous time optimal control
  • Endogenous growth theory
  • Search and matching
  • Old Keynesian & new Monetarist models
  • Rational expectations
  • Learning in macroeconomics

Advanced Microeconomics 1

This module presents key microeconomic concepts focusing on game theory and information. It presents the four main models in game theory, which consist of static games with complete information, dynamic games with complete information, static games with incomplete information and dynamic games with incomplete information. The treatment is rigorous, at a suitable pace. Emphasis will be given to economic applications.

Advanced Microeconomics: 2 

This module continues the study initiated in Advanced Microeconomics and focuses on consumer theory, producer theory and general equilibrium. Efficiency and social stability of general equilibrium will be addressed. General equilibrium models of pure exchange economies, production economies and economies under uncertainty will be studied. An introduction to incomplete markets theory will also covered.

Real Analysis 1

This module is an introduction to analysis, which is the branch of mathematics that rigorously studies functions, continuity and limit processes, such as differentiation and integration. The module leads, among other things, to a deeper understanding of what it means for a sequence or series to converge. Tools such as convergence tests are presented and their validity proved, and the rigorous use of definitions and logic play a central role.

Real Analysis 2

This module builds on Real Analysis 1 and focuses on continuity, differentiability and integrability of real functions of one variable.

Year two

In the second year, students take advanced topics modules. The modules offered may vary year-on year, depending on the research interests of both students and academic staff. The aim is to provide students with cutting-edge research in various fields, spanning microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. This helps students identify an area/topic of interest which will be starting point of their dissertation. At the same time, it provides them with a large spectrum of advanced topics, thus broadening their knowledge.

In addition, the second year of the programme will deliver specific modules on research training, and on guidance towards writing the research proposal.

Second year modules are assessed entirely by coursework. The Research Proposal is also assessed. Students who fail a module, have the possibility of resitting in the Summer resit period. To proceed to year 3, students have to successfully pass the written final examination and have a satisfactory mark on their Research Proposal.

Semester one

  • Topics in Macroeconomic Theory
  • Topics in Microeconomic Theory
  • Topics in Applied Theory
  • Research in Economics 1

Semester two

  • Topics in Empirical Macroeconomics
  • Topics in Empirical Microeconomics
  • Topics in Econometrics
  • Research in Economics 2

Year two module overview

Research in Economics 1 and 2

The student is introduced to the practical aspects of research, including the formulation of research questions, learning to sift through the literature, preparing a research proposal, structuring a paper, etc. By the end of the first semester the student is expected to have prepared a research proposal for a short piece of research that she/he intends to carry out in the second semester.

In the second semester the student will carry out this research under the direction of a supervisor (who may or may not be the PhD supervisor), which will result in a short paper.

Topics in Econometrics

Big Data and Resampling Tecniques, Spatial Econometrics, Quantiles Regression, The econometrics of auctions.

Topics in Empirical Microeconomics

The problem of econometric identification, Quasi-experimental methods, Structural modelling, Methods to model specific types of data, such as duartion models.

Topics in Macroeconomic Theory

Heterogeneous Agents in Macroeconomics, Optimal Taxation, Learning and Imperfect Information in Macroeconomics, Occasionally Binding Constraints in Macroeconomics

Topics in Microeconomic Theory

Rational choice theory, The consumer choice model, Empirical revealed preference, Non-linear budget sets, Choice under uncertainty, Behavioural models, Models of household decision making

Topics in Applied Theory

Large games, Financial economics, Strategic voting, Strategic experimentation, Mechanism design.

There are no subsidiary exit awards at the end of the teaching elements at Year 1 or Year 2.

Year three and year four

During the final two years, students are working on their dissertation, under the guidance of a supervisor and a co-supervisor. At the end of year 3, students are supposed to present their progress in the appropriate field workshop. Students are also expected to regularly participate in seminars and workshop. At the end of year four, the student will submit a dissertation that is examined by viva voce and lends itself to the publication of papers in highly rated economics/econometrics journals.

Fees and Funding

All students offered a studentship for the programme receive full funding, which includes a tuition fee waiver (UK/EU and International) and a competitive stipend (£17,000 pa). We will also consider applicants who are able to self-fund or bring external funding. For further information regarding the scholarships please see

Students will also get limited funds to present their work at conferences, such as the Royal Economics Society or the European Econometric society yearly conferences.

SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership studentship opportunities

SeNSS offers ESRC studentships to top-quality research students wishing to study economics, linguistics, hospitality and tourism management, environment and sustainability and development studies and related multidisciplinary topics within the social sciences at the University of Surrey.

Related research areas

Related departments/schools

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 30-48 months October

Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, normally with a first class honours (or equivalent).

A minimum of two letters of recommendation should be provided with your application. Applicants are also requested to submit a cover letter specifying their motivation to pursue a PhD in Economics at the University of Surrey and highlighting their broad research interests.

Studentship deadline
To be considered for a studentship the deadline for applications is 28 June 2017 at midnight. Applications received after the stated deadline will be considered only for unfunded places.

GRE criteria

Applicants should also take the GRE exam. Only the ‘Quantitative Reasoning’ part of the GRE test is compulsory. Applications without evidence of GRE (Quantitative Reasoning) will not be considered.

Please note your GRE exam statement should be less than five years old on 1 October 2017.

You should arrange for an official certificate of your score to be sent to Admissions Services of the University from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), as well as entering your scores in the relevant section of the application form.

Please also select the University of Surrey as an official score recipient. You can also find instructions on how to have your scores sent to an institution.

The Surrey institution code for the GRE is 3495; no department code is required as the scores are processed centrally.

For more information about the test please see the GRE website or the ETS website.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

Non-native speakers of English will normally require IELTS 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).

Failure to submit a valid IELTS (no old than 24 months) with required scores can substantially delay the application process.

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time £4195 £16,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2017 entry should please note that annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Doctoral College

Our Doctoral College supports researcher excellence and employability across the doctoral and early career stages of the researcher journey.

Find out more

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.

The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Our academic staff