1. Undergraduate applicants to City, University of London
  2. How to do well in Economics

How to do well in Economics

Economics can be a demanding subject to study at degree level, Alumni Andrea gives his top tips on how to stay motivated through your studies and how to make the most of what City has to offer.

I think that the key ingredient is to staying motivated in your studies is to try to find the most intriguing parts within each subject that you study and also to be able to diversify your routine. For example, in my postgraduate studies in Paris I struggled a lot with econometrics, a subject which is generally dreaded and hated by students due to its statistical and mathematical complexity. It is therefore crucial to detach from its purely theoretical and abstract realm and embrace it in its undeniable central role in any real life economic application. Read any political or social news story (or even economic papers dealing with the ex-post evaluations of policies implemented by governments) and it will show how the economy and any actions are measured and the everyday value in econometrics. At the same time, spending too many hours a day on such a difficult topic can be really draining so a break can always help. I’ve always made sure I’ve found some time for a run, a football game or a cinema trip: a few hours outside of the library helped me be much more productive the day after.

My advice for anyone hoping to get a first would be that you need:

  • Commitment, which entails hours of study, 
  • Good reasons to get a first (future masters, career goals)
  • A bit of good luck!

Personally, I do not believe that you need to study all hours of the day, you can still have a lot of fun and do many other activities and get a first class degree, as long as you can keep your concentration and focus when studying.

I had a specific career in mind when I started studying Economics at City. As I’ve always loved reading and writing, at first I wanted to become an economic journalist. I also had in mind some potential employers, such as The Economist or the Financial Times. The BSc. Economics at City certainly gave me the tools to become an economic journalist. However, my plans changed and in my third year when I realised that I wanted to become an economist and maybe work for a government. To do that I felt I needed to pursue my studies and I did my masters at the Paris School of Economics. During the postgrad my career’s plans changed again and now I’ve begun working in development economics and, in particular, for institutions conducting economic research in low-income countries.

To get into my current role at PEDL (Private Enterprise Development in Low-income countries) has been a three step process that took me around ten days, which involved CV, motivation letter, written exercise and final interview. What really made the difference in the final step, was the in-depth knowledge I’ve built at the Paris School of Economics in econometric techniques, development economics’ theory and critical mind-set.

PEDL is a research initiative jointly led by DfiD and CEPR. PEDL’s aim is to provide funding to researchers that are interested in both understanding the barriers and frictions that prevent the private sector in low-income country to sprout, or even to emerge and inform policymakers. A strong private sector is key to sustain the growth of a nation in any country and even more in developing countries, where a larger fraction of the population is privately employed. Since research in private sector development is still lagging, PEDL’s objective is to keep incentivising it.