For anyone wanting to study economics, finding the top university for the subject is one of the most important considerations. Our list breaks down the best universities for economics in the UK, according to rankings by the Complete University Guide. Incorporating factors like student satisfaction and graduate prospects, these universities come out on top for economic students overall.
The 10 best universities for economics in the UK 2024
1. University of Cambridge
Always at the top of university league tables, the infamous Oxbridge universities are once again high on the list. The University of Cambridge came out as the best university for economics in the UK overall, which is mainly thanks to its entry standards. It’s obviously a well-known university so if you do attend here, you can expect the economics course to be rigorous too. Cambridge University claim that lots of their graduates go on to further training in accountancy and actuarial work or find employment in financial institutions, government, management consultancy and more. Basically, with an economics degree from the University of Cambridge, you’re well on your way to a high-paying and successful career.
2. University of Oxford
And yes, second on our list of the best universities for economics in the UK is the University of Oxford, the other half of Oxbridge. With an overall score of 98%, it’s clear that economics courses at Oxford University are highly regarded. Just to name drop a few famous Oxford economists – Sir Roy Harrod, Jacob Marschak, Nicholas Stern, and Sir David Hendry. Many economists affiliated with Oxford have also become Nobel Prize winners – just sayin’!
3. London School of Economics and Political Science
As a school of economics, London School of Economics and Political Science (or LSE) is obviously going to have a great tailored economics programme and department. It actually scored higher than both the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford for research quality, coming out as the best university for economics in the UK for this area. It also fared pretty well across areas so it’s definitely a university worth considering if you want to study economics.
4. University of Warwick
Another great university for research quality and all factors, the University of Warwick is the 4th best university for economics for 2024. In particular, it’s among the top of the economics league table for graduate opportunities – and it’s clear to see why. Many of their alumni have gone on to have impressive careers, such as senior parliamentary assistants, solutions engineers for renowned companies, assistant economists at the Department for Business and Trade, and more.
Like many of the best universities for economics in the UK, UCL also comes out top of university rankings for economics globally too. It’s also slightly less competitive than the likes of LSE or Oxbridge too, which means it’s a great option to apply to. You can also choose specific programmes tailored to your interests such as economics with finance, or statistics for example.
6. University of St. Andrews
The University of St. Andrews rose up a place for economics university ranking in the UK. It’s now the 6th best university to study economics in the UK, and the best if you’re looking for a university in Scotland. The School of Economics and Finance at the University of St. Andrews was the best according to Guardian economics league table in 2023, so it’s a great place to be if you’re looking to do postgraduate study and PhDs too.
7. Durham University
With an overall score of 92% and 91% for graduate prospects, Durham University has some of the leading economics courses in the UK for students in 2024. They focus on real-world applications of economics, which may explain why graduates are so successful in finding a job. You can also select many of your own modules so you can really tailor the programme to the career you want to build.
8. University of Bath
Speaking of graduate prospects, the University of Bath was the best economics university in the UK for this area. It scored 97%, which is pretty impressive – and also reassuring for any University of Bath students worrying about jobs and careers afterwards. In your third year, you’ll be able to choose if you want to study abroad or complete professional work experience. Previous students have done so at firms like Amazon, Bank of England, ONS and Microsoft. If you want to study abroad, you can channel former University of Bath students and head to countries like Singapore, Italy, South Korea, Canada or more.
9. University of Exeter
Not only is the University of Exeter one of the best universities for economics in the UK, it’s also one of the best Russell Group for all areas related to student satisfaction. This is important, as you’ll not only be getting one of the top economics courses but all round good student experiences. Some of the graduate roles include working as an analyst in risk or business, or project management. Former students have also gone on to secure roles at Goldman Sachs, Facebook, HM Treasury, Bloomberg LP, and the Royal Bank of Canada.
10. King’s College London
King’s College London is the 10th best university for economics in the UK, and like others, has been recognised in global rankings for the subject. It sits within the Department of Political Economy, which KCL claim is the only one of its kind in the UK – so you know you’re getting tailored teaching, support and resources. And if you weren’t convinced that it’s a prestigious school, you’ll need three A Levels graded at A*AA to get on the course.
Top 20 universities for economics in the UK
The table below shows the top 20 universities for economics in the UK, ranked by The Complete University Guide’s 2024 ratings. The top 10 are predominantly southern England unis with some exceptions, but it’s clear to see that when you look at the top 20 highest-ranking universities, they’re more spread out. Moreover, the overall scores don’t differ that much. So if you’re not from the South and are thinking of applying to a uni closer to home, don’t worry.
|University of Cambridge
|University of Oxford
|University of Warwick
|University of St. Andrews
|University of Bath
|University of Exeter
|King's College London
|University of Leeds
|The University of Edinburgh
|University of Nottingham
|University of Glasgow
|University of Bristol
|University of Birmingham
|University of Sheffield
|University of Surrey
Why study economics at university?
Studying economics at university can lead to a wide range of rewarding careers. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Business Analyst
- Technology Risk Analyst
- Sponsorships Executive
- Commercial Project Manager
- Actuarial Analyst
- Assistant Economist
- Parliamentary Assistants
- Solutions Engineer
- Business Manager
They’re all about understanding, interpreting and analysing the world, and applying those skills to an organisation, group of people, product or other situation. You can also specialise, gaining more insight into the type of profession you would like to have (see below).
Specialisations within economics
- Business Economics: Focuses on the economic aspects of business operations, market structure, and corporate strategy.
- International Economics: Deals with economic interactions between countries, covering trade policies, global finance, and international market analysis.
By studying economics, you’ll develop so many interesting skills and perspectives that you might not have thought about otherwise. After all, there’s some logic behind the phrase ‘money makes the world go round’, so economics is essential for understanding the cogs and wheels that drive our world.
Some of the benefits of studying economics include:
1. Understanding the world around you
Economics isn’t just about money; it’s the study of resources, how they’re distributed and consumed, and what influences these processes. By delving into economics, you gain insights into why things cost what they do and what determines living standards across different regions. It’s like having a map to navigate the complexities of the world.
2. Enjoying a range of career opportunities
With a degree in economics, you’re not pigeonholed into a single career path. The skills you acquire are in high demand across various sectors. Whether it’s finance, public policy, consultancy, or even law, the doors are wide open. Economics graduates are known for their analytical prowess and problem-solving skills, making them attractive to a broad range of employers.
3. Honing important critical skills
Economics is not just about understanding supply and demand curves. It hones your problem-solving, analytical thinking, and research skills. These are transferable skills that are highly valued in any professional setting. Plus, your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively is a cherry on top!
4. Interdisciplinary learning
Economics pairs wonderfully with other subjects. Interested in psychology, politics, or international relations? Economics complements these fields beautifully, offering a more rounded and comprehensive understanding of how societal factors interplay with economic principles.
5. Developing a global perspective
In our increasingly interconnected world, understanding economics provides a global lens to view various issues. It’s a subject that transcends borders, making it an invaluable study for those looking to make an impact on an international scale.
6. Preparing for further study and/or an academic career
If you’re considering further academic pursuits, economics is a solid foundation. It prepares you for a range of postgraduate programmes, not just in economics but also in fields like law and international relations.
In short, studying economics is not just about graphs and numbers, or market trends and financial principles. It’s actually an insight into how our societies operate, locally and globally. It combines analytical thinking, statistical competence, and strategic planning, equipping you with skills that are applicable in a lot of professional scenarios. Moreover, you’ll have lots of experience with interpreting complex data, which really is invaluable in modern jobs.
Choosing the right economics university for you
Although the universities above are considered the best for economics in the UK, it’s important to consider different aspects to find the one that’s good for you. Oxbridge is great on your future CV, but the workload that comes with it isn’t for everyone.
When selecting a university, consider the following aspects:
- Course content: Ensure the curriculum aligns with your career aspirations.
- Location: Consider the university’s location and its impact on your lifestyle and study.
- Facilities: Look for universities with state-of-the-art facilities, including libraries and research centres.
Choosing the right institution for studying economics in the UK is a decision that shapes future career paths. By considering the detailed insights provided in our league table, students can make an informed choice, selecting a program that not only aligns with their academic interests but also prepares them for the dynamic and challenging world of economics. But also do your own research, attend open days, network and ask any questions you have to make your decision.
Here are some more tips on how to choose a university.