UCAS Advice for Economics


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Regularly updated advice on making strong applications for economics-related courses.

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UCAS Advice for Economics

  1. 1. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20131Guidance Notes onUniversity ApplicationsAdvice and information on building a strong platform forapplications to the UK and overseas universitiesGeoff Riley FRSAEton College and Co-Founder of Tutor2uSummer 2013 Edition
  2. 2. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20132Section 1: UCAS – Building Blocks to Choosing a Degree1. First, have a look at the UCAS web site www.ucas.ac.uk2. Second, send off for your own copy of a favoured university prospectus that can be browsed at leisure. Neweditions can be ordered online from each of the universities3. Universities cannot see where else an applicant has applied and there is no rank order of applicationsA Selection of Economics Faculties: Click on the links to access the economics faculty web sitesBath www.bath.ac.uk/econ-dev/Birmingham www.economics.bham.ac.uk/index.shtmlBristol www.bristol.ac.uk/economics/Cambridge www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ and www.econ.cam.ac.uk/prospect/ba/index.htmlDurham www.dur.ac.uk/economics.finance/Edinburgh www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/economics/Exeter www.sobe.ex.ac.uk/undergraduate/Lancaster www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/departments/economics/Leeds http://lubswww.leeds.ac.uk/undergraduate/index.php?id=55Liverpool www.liv.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/courses_e.htmLondon School of Economics http://econ.lse.ac.uk/ and http://econ.lse.ac.uk/study/ugpr.htmlManchester www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/disciplines/economics/Newcastle www.ncl.ac.uk/undergraduate/course/L100/economicsNottingham (BA): www.nottingham.ac.uk/ugstudy/courses/economics/ba-economics.aspx(BSc): www.nottingham.ac.uk/ugstudy/courses/economics/bsc-economics.aspxOxford (Econ & Management) www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/index.htmlOxford (General) www.economics.ox.ac.ukOxford (PPE) www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/courses/ppec.shtmlQueen’s (Belfast) www.qub.ac.uk/home/StudyatQueens/UndergraduateStudents/Royal Holloway (London) www.rhul.ac.uk/economics/prospectivestudents/home.aspxSouthampton www.southampton.ac.uk/economics/undergraduate/St Andrews www.st-and.ac.uk/academic/economics/UCL www.ucl.ac.uk/economics/undergraduate/prospectiveWarwick www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/Economics/York www.york.ac.uk/depts/econ/Trinity College Dublin www.tcd.ie/Economics/Columbia (New York) www.columbia.edu/cu/economics/Brown (Economics) www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Harvard (Economics) www.economics.harvard.edu/Princeton (Economics) www.econ.princeton.edu/Yale (Economics) www.econ.yale.edu/Stanford (Economics) http://economics.stanford.edu/site-map
  3. 3. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20133Alternative University Information and Careers Advice:Guardian University Guide:www.guardian.co.uk/education/universityguideIndependent: http://education.independent.co.uk/higher/Open Days www.opendays.com/Prospects: www.prospects.ac.ukMore useful links Why Study Economics: http://whystudyeconomics.ac.uk/ - this is a good site for background on universitycourses and there are some well made videos from current economics undergraduates. Tutor2u UCAS Blog: http://tutor2u.net/blog/index.php/economics/C561/ - containing lots of updatedresources for students during the current UCAS round Complete university guide – information on economics and related subjects available here:www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/single.htm?ipg=8823 Thinking Skills Assessment: www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/Section 2: Studying Economics – Courses and Conditional Offers Economics can be studied either as a single honours subject or in combination with other subjects (these areknown as joint honours courses). Check carefully to see what options are available. Thousands of studentseach year combine Economics with Maths, History, Geography, Law, Philosophy, a Modern Language andalso Politics, Engineering and Management. Course requirements vary by institution and these can change from year to year – you are advised tocontact the university department concerned for precise information before applying. Further details arelikely to be given out at the official university / faculty open days For many of the top courses, a top grade in Further Maths is recommended to give your application astronger chance. For single honours Economics it is rare to apply without an A grade in single Maths.Conditional Offers and Recent Advice (updated: January 2013)For competitive courses, single honours economics will require at least one A*at A2 – probably Maths. You arestrongly advised to take Further Maths for Cambridge, UCL, Warwick, LSE and Oxford Econ & Managemento Bath: Typical offer: A2: A*AA or AAA, Mathematics and Economics A2 is required at grade A or above; AAAoffer in 2013 for Business Administration (Sandwich)o Birmingham: Typical offer: A2: AAA, GCSE Mathematics grade A if not offered at AS or A2 level; AAB forBusiness Management, AAB for Politics and Economicso Bristol: Typical offer A2: A*AA including AAAA in C1, C2, C3 and C4. For Economics and Management: A*AAincluding AAAA in C1, C2, C3 and C4o For Econ and Finance A*AA offers made for 2013. Likewise - Economics with Study in ContinentalEurope (4 years) AAA. Economics and Politics AAA including A in C3 and C4 Mathso Bristol is more likely to make you an offer if you are studying Further Mathematics within the contextof four recognized A-level subjects. Some pure mathematics (mainly calculus) is needed for econtheory which is compulsory in the first year (1/6thof the first year course). Most of the mathematicswill not be harder than you would find in Further Maths A-levelo City University: Typical A2 offer: Economics: AAB
  4. 4. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20134o Cambridge: A-level Maths is essential for thoseapplying for entry. Vast majority of offers foreconomics at Cambridge require A2 grades of A*AAbut for 2012, St Johns College made offer inEconomics of A*A*A (in Maths, Further Maths andEconomics. Clare College made offer of A*AA (with A*in Maths or Economics). Human, Social and PoliticalSciences A*AAo Each college adopts a different entryprocedure: all have interviews (one 25-30minute subject specific, one 15 minutegeneral), some have tests: TSA, Maths or acomprehension/ submitted work.o Cambridge require you to submit AS module scores and as a rule of thumb you should be scoring atlest 93% in each of your AS module units. In December 2011, at Selwyn College 8 successfulapplicants (out of 89) averaged 97.1% across their top 3 AS subjectso Cambridge is looking for students with the intellectual curiosity to investigate contemporary andhistorical patterns of economic behaviour, and a wide–ranging interest in the evolution of the globaleconomy. You should also have good quantitative skills and an interest in applying mathematical andstatistical tools to the analysis of economic issueso Their Tripos system is flexible – e.g. you might study Law or Management Studies in 3rdyearo Durham: Typical L100 offer A2: A*AA. Economics BA (Honours) and for Business Economics; For CombinedSocial Sciences (Econ + Geography) typical offer is A*AA, Geography (single honours) offer of A*AA. Businessand Management offer 2103: AAM2orD3ABo You will need an A* in Maths for Economics but don’t bother applying for PPE if you are doingDouble Maths as they think this shows too narrow a focus. Durham’s PPE admissions advisor wantsstudents to be taking four A2 subjectso If you aren’t taking four subjects to A2, considerapplying for the Combined Social Sciencesdegree which has more places and is fine with3 A2 subjects. You can study the samemodules as the PPEo Edinburgh: Typical A2 offer: AAB or BBB: SingleHonours Economics: Maths: Maths AS or A-leveldesirable. 2013 offer for one student is AApre-uDo Exeter: Typical A2 offer: Economics A*AA. Selectorsprefer applicants to offer grade A at A levelMathematics. Econ and Politics offer: AAB; Businessand Management: AAA; Econ & Finance: AAAo Leeds: Typical A2 offer is AAA for most Economicsoptions including Management. You must have A/A* inGCSE Maths; AAB for Economics and Maths. Economicsand German offer: AABo London School of Economics (LSE): Further Maths is a must for Economics L100, but it is not necessary tohave studied even single Maths to apply for Economics and Government. LSE put a HUGE emphasis on theUCAS statement. They make 2.5 offers for every place they actually have. Recent offers: Government andeconomics AAA, Economics A*AA Philosophy and Economics 2013 offer: AAA
  5. 5. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20135o Manchester: Typical A2: Economics AAB,Development and Economics AAB; Economics andFinance AAB, Management (Marketing) AAB,Modern History with Economics: ABBo Newcastle: Typical A2 offer: AAA excluding GeneralStudies. GCSE Maths grade A and English grade B.Business Accounting and Finance 2013 offer: AABo Nottingham:o For the BA and BSC Honours Economics:Typical A2 offer is A*AA and for thosetaking four full A2 subjects (not includinggeneral studies) A*ABB. An A in Maths at GCSEis required.o Economics with Hispanic Studies (4 years) A*AA; Management Studies: AAAo Oxford (Economics and Management):o Typical offer remains AAA or D3. Candidates are required to have Mathematics to A-levelo Work experience & "extended projects" irrelevant - they read UCAS Statement very carefullyo TSA exam is crucially important for Oxford E&M and also for PPE (read below): They look at your public exam grades and your TSA score and your school reference, and byusing "regression analysis" they produce an "algorithm", from which they give eachcandidate a score. They then rank all the candidates. The TSA is the major component hereo Oxford Engineering Economics and Management (2013): A*AAo Oxford (PPE): Typical A2 offer: AAA (Maths and History are helpful but not essential)o Queen Mary London: Typical A2 offer: Economics L100: AAAo Royal Holloway: Typical A2 offer: Economics: AAB; Economics with Politics: ABBo Southampton: Typical A2 offer: 3 A level subjects: AAA including A level Mathematics; 4 A level subjects:AABB including A level Mathematics at grade B or aboveo St Andrew’s: Typical A2 offer for single honours Economics is AAAo UCL: Economics: A*AA in the first sitting, to include grade A* in Mathematics (and A in Economics if takingthis subject), plus a pass in a further subject at AS level. Philosophy and Economics (2013) AAAo Warwick: Typical A2 offer: A*AAB - For applications to L100 Economics or L112 Economics and IndustrialOrganization you must obtain a minimum grade A in A2 level Maths. A*AAa for those taking 3 A2 subjects.AAA offer for Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and EconomicsLand Economy (available at Cambridge, Reading) Its two primary disciplines are law and economics. Students with interests in economic geography,environmental economics, the economics of real estate and in environmental and property law will beattracted to Land Economy. www.landecon.cam.ac.uk/courses/undergradstudy/introduction.htm The University of Cambridge Land Economy faculty admits around 60 undergraduates per year. The normalrequirement for undergraduate applicants to Land Economy is A*AA at A level. The Department does notrequire applicants to have taken any particular subjects prior to joining
  6. 6. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20136Section 3: Strengthening your University ApplicationFor most admissions tutors, their main concern is your intellectual /academic potential, commitment, curiosity and passion for yourchosen subject disciplines compared with other student applicantsOne admissions tutor said: “we look for intellectual curiosity and awide-ranging view of the subject, i.e. not just focused on the UK.”Good advice, try to show awareness of the big changes happening inthe world!Focusing on your UCAS statementYour UCAS statement should be at least 80% about a genuinecommitment to a chosen subject and must demonstrate evidence ofhaving gone well beyond the syllabus, with a track record of independent study.Enrichment and Extension Activities in your SubjectsHere is some advice on improving the quality of your application – assuming that you have the required gradeso Independent enrichment readingo Try to read articles from a quality newspaper every day. This will give you breadth of awareness andit will undoubtedly improve your written work in your final paperso Develop your own personal learning network using blogs and twitter – for example by followingand engaging in discussions with subject experts.o Watch TED talks and talks from the Royal Society of Arts and the London School of Economicso Read up on critical thinking / thinking skills – consider buying a book on this to prepare for TSA testso Get involved in school societies and make contact with speakers after their visit – follow them on Twitter ordraw on some of their most recent articles and books – this is a great way to immerse yourself in a subjecto Enter at least one external essay competitions such as the one organized by the Royal Economic Societyo RES Essay competition for 2013 – details here: http://tutor2u.net/blog/index.php/economics/C572o Get involved with summer schools that give you fresh insights into subjects you want to take further. Checkto see which UK and US universities are organizing summer schools and apply early!o Challenge the conventional wisdom in the classroom – seek to question what is being taught, haveconfidence to take issue with your teachers and explore different arguments – don’t take a back seat, don’tbe passive – it will help you in interviews and in university seminars, it will improve your self-confidenceo Explore areas of the subject beyond the syllabus such as game theory and behavioural economicso Network - explore opportunities for work experiences with different organizations and people - the morediverse the experience – the better. Working for a charity, with a local newspaper or business start-up ismore valuable than a week sat with boring people in an investment banking office or a firm of accountants!o Travel and seek to understand more about the social, economic, political and historical background of theplaces you are visiting. Read up about them, perhaps contributing to school-based magazines or otherstudent publications. Blog about your experiences and your views.o Attend outside lectures and other events – look for lectures made available to the general public at yourlocal universities or academic organizations: In London for example I recommend the following:o LSE Public Lectures: www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/eventsHome.aspxo RSA Events: www.thersa.org/events
  7. 7. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20137Section 4: Writing a Personal Statement They are a crucial piece of evidence alongsideprojected grades and school reference They must be personal; they must convey genuineenthusiasm for the subject! Some universities allow (like) substitute or additionalpersonal statements:o Durham substitute statement allowedo Cambridge SAQ additional statement allowedo UCL ‘Arts and Sciences BASc’ additionalstatement requiredFirst paragraph What sparked your interest? - talk about how youreached your decision to study this subject How has it been sustained? - Has taking it to A2 levelconfirmed you want to take it even further? Be specific - give an example of something in the course thats really fired your interestParagraph Two - Your Academic and Intellectual Curiosity Books that you have read. Try to think about your independent reading. Give the title, the author, a briefsynopsis and explain what it was about that book that you liked/seemed relevant to you and your course. Ifyou can, try to get to the heart of what the book was about, or take issue with it The journals or magazines or blogs youve read or follow. Why do you like that particular journal, and whicharticles in particular have interested you? How have you carried this interest forward? If you refer to something you have read, say what you think of it, a chance to show critical thought The recent developments in your subject that has caught your eye. Have you studied developments inbehavioural economics? Or read different books on globalisation and the financial crisis?Paragraph Three - Related interest in your subject(s) The work experience or voluntary work that you have completed What it was about that work experience or voluntary work that (specifically) interested you? Any academic competitions youve entered, what did you write about? What did you learn? What extra courses, lectures, summer schools, and seminars have you attended? Who gave them? Whatimpressed you? What did you take from them?Paragraph 4 - Extra Curricular - the subliminal messages The sports you do and the level. Any scholarships you have, and how you have continued to excel in that area. Your orchestras, choirs, bands, societies and say why you like them. Your positions of responsibility or occasions when youve led teams. What did you learn from it? What takes up your free time, and why do you give it so much space in your life? Why you think these qualities will make you a good undergraduate? Some areas of your life that show you can work under pressure, to deadlines.Entry ProfilesOn the UCAS website, every course at every university has an Entry Profile, accessible when you either search for acourse or search for a university. Entry profiles will give a clear statement of the essential and preferred subjects atA2 and AS, as well as the grades and other requirements universities are looking for from applicants. For example, aswell as specifying what grades are required, certain courses may specify required additional tests, skills,recommended evidence of relevant work experience and so on.
  8. 8. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20138Section 5: Sample Personal StatementsStatement 1: History (Oxford)History is an enormously difficult subject to define. To me the most appropriate definition is that offered by Cicero,“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time.” This is because the breadth of the subject means thatthe historian can never be certain of what happened, but tries to give an accurate account based on limited sources.History is something with which to think with; to see how people behaved in the past presents us an opportunity tothink how we behave.My interest in history stemmed from its capacity to develop awareness of differing political, cultural, social andeconomic structures. This was particularly evident when studying the causes of the American Civil War, and theinnate differences between the North and South. My inquisitive nature is a main factor in my desire to study history;I am interested in a broad range of historical topics including the Anglo-Zulu war, the First World War and theAmerican Revolution.I have been appointed Secretary of the History Society of my school. A particularly memorable speaker wasProfessor Richard Holmes, who spoke about the Western Front in World War One. Following this talk I visited thebattlefield’s of the Somme to gain a better understanding of the war. I have enjoyed reading Gary Sheffield’scontroversial book, Forgotten Victory. I was interested by the notion offered that the war represented the greatestmilitary victory in British history and that the First World War was as war that Britain had to fight. I have attendedtwo talks by David Rattray, one at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and the other at the Royal GeographicalSociety. These talks on the Anglo-Zulu war interested me because of their focus on the battle of Isandlwana being agreat victory for the Zulus, and not entirely due to British incompetence. When studying the Causes of the AmericanCivil War, I undertook the reading of The Great Republic –A History of America by Sir Winston Churchill. Thoughmore of a synopsis of American history up to the early twentieth century it offers an interesting overview and a gooddescription of the Civil War.Since coming to the school I have gained an internal scholarship based on exam results. I have also won three Historyprizes in exams as well as in several other subjects. Last year I won the lower-sixth Divinity prize. In this essay I drewon examples from history as a means to explore what may be justified in the future. Looking at key events in history,such as the Industrial Revolution, I concluded that to hold back human development for the sake of futuregenerations would be a mistake.Recently I have entered the Birley prize for an historical essay written and researched entirely independently. I chosethe topic of The Olive Branch Petition and the American War of Independence. I was particularly interested byBernard Bailyn’s book ‘The ideological origins of the American Revolution’, a book which gave great significance tothe political philosophy of the revolution. I was also able to research Parliamentary debates from 1775 at the Houseof Lords Record Office, which was a rewarding and useful experience. My interest in Politics led to my appointmentas Vice-President of the schools Political Society. In this position I am able meet a number of significant politicalfigures. Both the editor of The Guardian and The Telegraph has come offering their views of the role of the media insociety. As I am young for the year I probably need to take a Gap year. For three months I plan to do voluntary workin a Game Reserve in Natal Province, South Africa. From here I will have the opportunity to visit both the Boer andAnglo-Zulu War battlefields. The opportunity to gain some understanding of other cultures should enhance myability as an historian.The Oxford history course’s broad chronological sweep and geographical range, including topics such as Spain andAmerica in the 16th Century, is particularly appealing. I would relish the opportunity to study a history course that isnot focussed merely on British and European histories. Having had a small sample of the tutorial system at myschool, I feel that I would benefit enormously and gain much enjoyment from such a system.
  9. 9. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 20139Statement 2: PPE (Oxford)When I was fifteen years old, I had the privilege of being elected Deputy Young Mayor of the London Borough ofNewham. Engaging with the electorate, senior politicians and media, I experienced some of the links betweeneconomics, politics and philosophy, energising my decision to pursue the subjects academically. I enhanced myabilities through self-study, reading The Times, The Economist, debating and writing an online blog. This initiativehelped me do well at school: youngest Chief Editor of the school magazine, highest achieving GCSE student in theborough and a Sixth Form Scholarship for state school pupils to Eton College.While reading Harford it dawned on me that there is an economist in each of us. I explored the idea in my articlesKOOLonomics by examining how students use economic thinking to make rational decisions in school situations.However, in my essay Tragedy behind the School Gates I investigated the paradox in the Prisoners Dilemma of howreason can be self-destructive and discussed measures to promote cooperative behaviour. In Kings Speech (highlycommended in the 2011 RES essay competition), I echoed Mervyn Kings fear of a repeat of the financial crisis andconsidered how government response has not fully addressed issues such as banks being too important to fail anddeep-rooted global imbalances. I agree with Rajans analysis that serious Fault Lines lay not in economics but inpolitics. I enjoy running the College Economics Society, interacting with the experts and learning from them.In my paper Its the Economy, Stupid I argued that politicians must address the economic aspirations of a society toget elected. However, in the context of the sovereign debt crisis, economic reforms are being undermined bypolitics. In a lecture on the Arab Spring I attended at the LSE, Dr Lisa Anderson cautioned against placing too muchemphasis on the causal relationship between poverty of the masses and political unrest: ideologies play a role. Myessay Fear is the Key (winner, College Politics prize) discussed how conservatism is a positional attitude driven byfear of change rather than an ideology. I have met leading politicians, visited the Houses of Parliament andwitnessed proceedings of the Newham Council. I complemented my experiences and studies by reading WoolfsIntroduction to Political Philosophy. I am a Committee Member of the College Political Society.Philosophy enables us to think critically about some of lifes deepest questions and provides the economist and thepolitician with a moral compass. This encouraged me to think and engage in discussion. Having read WarburtonsIntroduction to Philosophy, I attended his exhibition Picturing Philosophers which inspired me to design Walk withPhilosophers, a new course for the Newham Summer School, which I taught in a Socratic style. Debate ChambersPhilosophy Summer School and a Harvard online course on Justice enhanced my thinking. Then, having read Libertyand Equality edited by Machan, I am scheduled to talk at the College society on how the two can be compatible yetcontradictory depending on their conception.My other involvements and responsibilities included positions as Deputy Head Boy, School Council Chair and jazzband member. At College I revived the Debating Society, hosted Berkshire Schools debating competition and wasranked in the top twelve at England Schools 2012 Debating Team Trials. Outside College I have taught debating at anOxbridge Summer School, GCSE History lessons and other workshops.I volunteered as a primary classroom assistant and had work experience at Freshfields law firm. I have been selectedas a London 2012 Young Leader and host community events associated with the Olympic Games. These experienceshave strengthened my organisational skills and ability to work to tight schedules.
  10. 10. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201310Statement 3: Teacher Reference for Harvard (Economics)Note: Applications to the US differ from the UK system – seek special advice from your school / college on SATs examsand other aspects of the process. This is an example of a reference written for a student seeking an early-applicationplace at a top US university and key is the range and depth of the activities and achievements that a referee can pointto within the body of the application.Student A is an exceptional young man with a breath-taking range of academic and whole school talents andinterests. I recommend him to you in the strongest possible terms and I do so without reservation. My hope is that,as my reference pans out, you will get a true sense of his commitment to academic excellence all of which isbalanced and blended with a delightful lightness of touch and integrity in his day-to-day work within the schoolcommunity.Academic resultsSince arriving at Eton Student A has occupied a lofty place in our internal academic rankings. He has been awardedstraight Distinctions in our end-of-term exams winning a scholarship along the way. In the last year alone he haswon school prizes in Economics, French and Physics. At GCSE, Student A secured the highest possible set of resultsand he was also placed in the top ten in the United Kingdom for his performance in Biology and Chemistry.It was no surprise that he emerged from his AS exams (taken at the age of 17) with a clean sweep of top grades andwe have no doubt that Student A will reach the highest standards in his 2010 papers. Student A was a natural choiceto be included in Sixth Form Select – an elite group of our most academic students that meets regularly to read anddissect essays written by members of the group.His written work for me is accomplished, full of genuine insight and beautifully easy to follow. He has a natural giftfor absorbing complex issues with the minimum of fuss and in developing a narrative and sustaining an argumentwith a telling phrase or supporting evidence. He carries this pursuit of interesting ideas into the schoolroom wherehe does not seek to dominate discussion for its own sake; instead he chooses his moment to capture the essence ofan issue. He is without doubt an outstanding academic leader in a fine school.Beyond the classroomStudent A has managed to achieve all of this without compromising for a second his outstanding contributions to thebroader life of the school. We have a long-standing tradition of encouraging students to stretch their academicwings by entering an eclectic mix of essay competitions in different subject domains. Earlier this year Student Aentered for the Newcastle Scholarship – a grueling three-day exam that tested his understanding of the writings ofKant. At the same time he was researching an essay for the Royal Economic Society’s annual competition on theintriguing title “Are economic recessions inevitable?” A few weeks later we learned that his essay had been awardedthird place nationally and that Charles Bean, Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England and one of the judges hadcommented that Student A’s essay was the most well written answer he had seen from over five hundred submitted.Student A will receive his award from Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University at a special lecture thiscoming November.I was delighted to appoint Student A as Secretary of the school’s Keynes (Economics) Society. This student-run bodyinvites external speakers and Student A and his team has already arranged a program of meetings that isunparalleled in my ten years at the school. Student A has also been editor of Etonomics – our in-house economicsmagazine, contributing articles as well as editing the contributions of his peers. When time allows you can findStudent A attending society meetings – from Politics and Philosophy to Science - and as a leader in the developmentof a new school group – the International Forum. Student A appreciates the value of these meetings and he builds afirst-rate rapport with our guests during their time at Eton.
  11. 11. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201311We are proud of the range of activities that students at Eton can get involved with and Student A has entered intothe spirit of these opportunities with gusto and relish. He devotes one afternoon a week to our Social Serviceprogram helping to care for elderly stroke victims at a local Concern Centre. He has played violin in our ConcertOrchestra, joined the chorus in a house production of the Threepenny Opera and he had helped form a team for thehouse close harmony competition. He can be found playing soccer for his house on a Tuesday and Thursdayafternoon and he has also tried his hand at rowing, shooting and school tennis, his talents at the latter gave him theopportunity to attend a school tennis training camp in Florida last Easter.Embracing the triumph of the cityFrom where does Student A draw the energy to do all of these things? He clearly has exceptional organizational skillsbecause, beyond Eton’s doors, he makes frequent trips to London’s South Bank to attend theatre, dance and filmevents. He has also completed a summer sculpture course in the capital and he has enjoyed completing sailingtraining in Norway, Outward Bound events and he has found time to complete his Drivers License in quick order! Youwill relieved to know that Student A still has time at the end of the day to dive into a good book. He has readCandide in French and is currently enjoying the works of Philip Pullman and the writings of the renowneddevelopment economist Jeffrey Sachs.Our school has provided Student A with a wonderful and eclectic balance of life opportunities that are difficult tofind elsewhere and he has set a terrifically high standard in the schoolroom whilst savoring and contributing richlyacross a broad canvas of other activities. I have no doubt that Student A will do the same at university for his senseof collegiality is embedded deeply in everything he does. His inter-personal skills are of the highest order and hisintellectual curiosity and drive to understanding more about an ever changing and turbulent world order will leadhim into even more areas of academic debate and discourse.This summer Student A spent several weeks in Tanzania, first working at Mvumi School where he taught English andAccounting and then a week at the Tanzanian central bank in Dar El Salam. This was truly a life-changing period forStudent A; he has written that the experience ‘devastated my perception of equality, the axiom to which I supposedwe are all subscribed’. He is now deeply interested in the complex inter-relationships between politics andeconomic and social policy-making and it will be fascinating to see where this new focus takes him in the months andyears to come.In twenty years as a Head of Faculty at two of the top academic schools in the United Kingdom, I have rarely comeacross someone with such a range of interests and talents. Expressed simply Student A is absolutely outstanding andI am delighted to offer this reference to you in support of his application.Geoff Riley FRSAEton College
  12. 12. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201312Statement 4: Economics and Management (Oxford)It is difficult to think of a more important and interesting time to study and understand Economics. As the coalitiongovernment embarks on the biggest spending cuts since the time of Thatcher and the world looks set to plunge backinto recession through the instability within the Euro Zone, one cannot ignore the impact of economic policies on allour lives. This is what draws me to the subject.Since taking up Economics at AS level, my main interest has lain with the evolution of innovation which is especiallyapparent in the past century. "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley is a book that addresses the adaptability of thehuman race to overcome the obstacles of the past and argues for optimism when looking to the future as humaningenuity and innovation will provide a basis for continued growth despite issues like food shortages and strainedresource supply.To develop my understanding of this subject, I researched and wrote an essay for the schools Economics prize onthe importance of urbanization to provide the high density living that is required to spark innovation, boostproductivity, and ultimately fuel growth. I concluded from this research that urbanization is one of the mostimportant factors for continued growth due to the increased creativity and enterprise experienced in high densitylocations. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly important from an environmental stand point in order to reducethe future carbon footprint of developing countries such as China and India. I ended up winning 1st prize for thiscompetition, examined by Professor Paul Collier.For me, what makes the subject so fascinating is its dynamic nature due to the irrational actions and decisions of theglobal populace. As a mathematician, I was fascinated to find that even this irrationality can be modeled andcalculated through the application of Game Theory which has become something in which Im especially interested."The Art of Strategy" by Dixit and Nalebuff was one of the most useful books I read in relation to this subject as usethe of extensive case studies practically demonstrates the principles of Game Theory to everyday human decisionmaking. Furthermore, Leonard Mlodinows "The Drunkards Walk" gave me an insight into how ineffective the humanbrain is at understanding probability and statistics which can explain why many of the irrational choices we make aregoverned by the view that these instincts are in fact rational. In this book Mlodinow shows through the manipulationof statistics that the chaos of randomness can be understood through awareness of the chance affecting ourdecisions.Over the summer I spent 2 weeks working for Ceres Fund Ltd. I found the work rewarding as an experience whichgave me an insight into how complicated the workings of the market are, reinforcing all that I have learnt of theirrationality of most consumer choices. Furthermore, I worked for African Access Holdings (Pty) Ltd for 3 weeks,being seconded to a group company specializing in travel and event managing. This was a particularly enlighteningexperience as it made me aware of the importance of such demanding managerial structures in larger companies. Ialso managed a shop on Portobello High Street which was interesting to experience first-hand the role of economictheory in practical situations.At school, I am Secretary of the Advertising Society, on the committee of the Model United Nations, the PsychologySociety and the Entrepreneurship Society as well as being Secretary of the more informal Meditation Society. I enjoythe responsibility of organizing house games, captaining my house football and cricket teams while also representingthe school in both sports. I am looking forward to the challenging nature of an Economics and Management courseas it will allow me to study the theory which fascinates me in tandem with the practical side of economics, which isso relevant to every choice I make.
  13. 13. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201313Statement 5: Economics – CambridgeI first became aware of the importance of Economics when I represented Iraq at a Model United Nations conferencein Edinburgh. I debated issues ranging from the problem of aid dependence to the economic impact of terrorism,and won the “Best Delegate” award in the Economics Committee. Since then, I have extended my knowledge ofdifferent areas of Economics by reading the Financial Times and The Economist, and by attending open lectures atthe LSE and RSA. In my gap year, I am working as an economic research assistant for the International Growth Centre(at the invitation of Professor Tim Besley) in a team planning to measure private returns to education, with theexciting possibility of undertaking fieldwork in India.My interest in Game Theory as a method for understanding strategic decision-making encouraged me to read ‘TheArt of Strategy’ by Dixit and Nalebuff. I am intrigued by how empirical evidence seems to refute the assumptions ofRational Choice Theory, leading us to question how rational we are and how useful the assumption of self-interest is,given the strong social, cultural and moral influences promoting altruism. Game Theory also appeals to me becauseit provides an opportunity to use my aptitude for Mathematics to analyse economic problems. I am working through‘Mathematics for Economics and Business’ by Ian Jacques, and have enjoyed applying calculus to problems such asthose encountered in constrained optimization. I am eager to develop my Mathematical skills and their applicationto Economics at University.Recent turmoil in the global economy led me to read Animal Spirits by Akerlof and Shiller, which introduced me tothe intriguing manner in which psychology affects the performance of the macro economy. In my essay for the RESYoung Economist of the Year Competition, entitled "Are Economic Recessions Inevitable?” I argued that there wasconvincing evidence to suggest that underlying psychological factors, rather than policy failures, cause the businesscycle. Since then, I have begun to explore rival theories of business cycles, including Keynesian, Monetarist andAustrian ideas.Amartya Sen’s ‘Development as Freedom’ sparked my interest in the role of economic and social liberties to increasethe advancement of poor countries, via the market mechanism. However, I found that much debate surroundingdevelopment is concerned with the time frame in which transitions towards market-based economies occur, ratherthan simply evaluating the benefits of free markets. The development of social capital appears to be a challengingbut essential part of this process. My belief that it is necessary to adopt a bottom-up approach to improving livingstandards of citizens in developing countries was reinforced by reading ‘The White Man’s Burden’ by WilliamEasterly. My interest in microfinance came from reconciling this approach to development with the improvement ofeconomic freedoms and my entry for my school’s Economics prize focused on the recent boom in microfinance tofund small Indian businesses. I concluded that regulation of microfinance lending should be increased to ensure thatcredit bubbles do not grow, burst and cause havoc, as they have done in the developed world.In my view, education is the best remedy available to improve global living standards. Through mountaineeringexpeditions to the Himalayas and the Andes, I have raised $12 000 to help educate orphan girls from the Masaaitribe in Tanzania. I will be teaching in Tanzania for three months from next April.As the secretary of my school’s Economics Society, I sought out inspiring speakers from varied academic andbusiness backgrounds to enthuse budding economists from several local schools. This experience has helped todevelop my organisational and time management skills. I am keen to make the most of the opportunities that auniversity education can offer, and hope one day to pursue a career in academia.
  14. 14. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201314Statement 6: PPE at OxfordThroughout my academic career I have tended to favour subjects that impact upon, or seem relevant to, my ownlife. This was certainly a crucial influence in my choice of A level programme and university course. I have a strongcommitment to understanding the world as it operates today; the more I have learned, the more I have come toappreciate that such an understanding often requires explorations of a more abstract than practical nature and thattheoretical approaches can unlock an appreciation of real world scenarios; but I remain someone whose primaryfocus is the here and now.I have enjoyed a number of books that have helped me to develop my thinking beyond the specific requirements ofthe A level syllabuses. Michael Lewis’ The Big Short, which I reviewed for an economics journal, revealed the cultureof moral depravity and lack of accountability that has caused so much turmoil. My interest in the current economiccrisis was given an historical and theoretical context by Keynes: The Return of the Master; this book certainlyadvanced my appreciation of the debate between ‘classical’ and ‘Keynesian’ economics.I am also interested in Development Economics, and my school economics prize essay: “Is there room for Ethics andMorals in Economics?” concluded that it is impossible for any economic or political system to function efficientlywithout a basic moral foundation. Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion explained how political and social factors haveprevented the economic development of the poorest nations, and I am interested in Dambisa Moyo’s view that theway out of poverty for Africa is not through aid, which encourages corruption and conflict, but through investment ininfrastructure and encouraging free trade.Early in my study of Economics I came to appreciate the diversity of applications of the subject: it is influenced by,and in turn influences, almost every sphere of human activity, not just the business and financial world. In trying tounderstand the forces that shape financial markets or economic developments, one engages with a broad range ofenquiry. My reading about Keynes has encouraged me to realise that Economics is a “moral science” that “deals withmotives, expectations, psychological uncertainties”. As such it is obvious that it is a subject that feeds off otherdisciplines and I am very excited by the possibility of being able to extend my examination of the modern world bypursuing philosophical and political courses, where possible. In my last year at school I took an optional course inphilosophy; by reading a wide range of texts starting with Plato and finishing with a taste of Wittgenstein, I began toget a feel for philosophical methods and a basic outline of a developing history of ideas in areas of metaphysics andmoral philosophy.In order to expose myself further to political debate I campaigned in the borough of Richmond in the 2010 GeneralElection. I met hundreds of residents and discussed their political hopes and concerns. Not only was I often asked todefend the government’s social policies during my encounters with the electorate, but the process of campaigning ineconomically deprived areas one day and in privileged suburbs the next made me aware of how far economicinequality had helped to cause the present political instability in the UK. Recently I have worked in a political think-tank, which has given me a fascinating insight into the workings of government and policy motives, sparking a desireto pursue this avenue of study more exhaustively.Whilst at school I involved myself in many worthwhile ventures, I worked for Starlight charity organising distributionof gifts to disabled children, and I cycled across Ireland in aid of Cancer Research raising £9,000. I am currentlyemployed at Sloane Robinson in the City, as a researcher, writing reports on market activity. In the New Year I will beworking at an orphanage in India, before travelling in the Far East.
  15. 15. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201315Statement 7: PPE, OxfordParticipating in an election campaign for the Thai Democrat Party (TDP) this summer has cemented my decision toapply for PPE. The experience not only enabled me to realize what is required to enter the Thai Parliament – mydefinite ambition – but it also exposed the undeniable connections between the three disciplines. Not only was Ioften asked to defend the government’s handling of the recent demonstrations on ethical grounds during myencounters with the electorate, but the process of campaigning in deprived areas one day and in nearby up-marketshopping complexes the next made me aware of how far inequality had helped to cause political instability inThailand. Indeed, the pursuit of income equality was the subject of my essay for the Royal Economic Society’scompetition, which was Highly Commended. My main attraction towards PPE thus lies in the synergetic linksbetween the three branches.In economics, I am fascinated by the extent to which the simple price mechanism unconsciously affects numerousfacets of our everyday lives and have extended my understanding of the subject through reading Sandelin’s A ShortHistory of Economic Thought. Studying economics in the midst of the current financial crisis has led to me followingmany topical issues, including the possible trade-off between a quick economic recovery and a sustainable budgetdeficit – the topic of a recent school prize that I won. Dixit and Nalebuff’s The Art of Strategy provide an intriguinginsight into game theory and behavioural economics. In addition to running the school’s Economics Society, I alsoexplored how ethics can enhance several areas of economics through Amartya Sen’s On Ethics and Economics andanother prize essay.As for politics, I attended an internship programme at the TDP. Shadowing the current Thai Prime Minister alsoexpanded my understanding of how leading a coalition government with a small majority forced him to resort to acabinet government. Political newspapers and magazines have interviewed me, defending the PM’s refusal to give into the protestors in order to avoid setting a precedent for ochlocracy over parliamentary democracy. Studying UKpolitics has allowed me to investigate the ideologies behind the UK parties’ policies in the general election, as well asto examine how far Parliament serves its purpose in the Westminster model. Political philosophy appeals to me noless than contemporary politics: Woolf’s Introduction to Political Philosophy spurred me to explore various originaltexts, such as Rousseau’s Social Contract.My participation in the Dicey Conference at Oxford further expanded my knowledge of civil liberties. Although thereis not enough time to study philosophy at school, it is not exclusive owing to the universal ability to think. WhileWarburton’s Philosophy: The Basics provides an overview of major philosophical issues, Bertrand Russell’s TheProblems of Philosophy has given me a taste of the style and framework of original works of philosophy, especiallyon aspects of epistemology. Hodges’ Logic introduced me to formal logic, including the tableaux test forinconsistency. My enthusiasm and aptitude for philosophy are also reflected in me winning a school philosophy prizeon the importance of doubt towards philosophy.I believe that I have demonstrated the all-round academic capabilities needed to cope with the broad nature of PPE,having finished top of my year academically over the past 3 years. Taking part in the Mathematical Olympiad and myschool Maths team that came 4th in the UK will also help me with the numerical skills required. Outside theclassroom, I am captain of my House’s football team and editor of my school’s academic yearbook. In addition torunning Community Services, my organizational skills and responsibility are reflected in my appointments as anAcademic Prefect and Head of the Scholar’s House.
  16. 16. Geoff Riley – UCAS and Economics – Summer 201316Section 6: Recommended Reading for EconomicsHere is my selection of economics books for students keen on deepening their understanding1. 23 Things They Dont Tell You About Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang), ISBN: 18461432842. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure (Tim Harford) ISBN: 14087015293. Art of Strategy (Dixit and Nalebuff) ISBN: 978-0-393-06243-4 – especially good for Game Theory4. Assumptions Economists Make: (Jonathan Schlefer), ISBN: 06740522695. Carbon Crunch: How Were Getting Climate Change Wrong (Dieter Helm), ISBN: 03001865926. Development as Freedom: (Amartya Sen): ISBN: 01928933007. End this Depression Now! (Paul Krugman) ISBN: 978-03930887798. Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction: (Ken Binmore) 978-01992184629. Grand Pursuit: The Story of the People Who Made Modern Economics (Sylvia Nasar) ISBN: 184115456310. How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (John Cassidy) ISBN: 184614300411. Keynes – the Return of the Master (Skidelsky) ISBN: 184614258X12. Made in Britain: How the nation earns its living: (Evan Davis) ISBN: 034912378013. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, (Chris Anderson), ISBN: 184794065X14. Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order (Philip Coggan) ISBN: 184614510415. Poor Economics: Rethinking Ways to Fight Global Poverty (Banerjee & Duflo) ISBN: 978158648798016. Positive Linking – Networks and Nudges (Paul Ormerod) ISBN: 0571279201 (forthcoming in 2012)17. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (Dan Ariely) ISBN: 978-006218359018. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis) ISBN: 184614257119. The Economics of Enough: (Diane Coyle) ISBN: 069114518020. The Idea of Justice (Amartya Sen): ISBN: 014103785721. The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity with Nature: (Paul Collier) ISBN: 184614223722. The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off, (Justin Lin), ISBN: 069115589523. The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction (Nate Silver), ISBN: 184614752224. Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow: (Daniel Kahneman) ISBN: 184614055225. Worldly Philosophers: Lives, Times, and Ideas of Great Economic Thinkers (Heilbroner) ISBN: 0140290060Reading list last updated Tuesday, May 07, 2013The Enlightenment Economics blog written by Diane Coyle is excellent for keeping up to speed with the flow of new economicsbooks that are being published at the moment: http://www.enlightenmenteconomics.com/blog/Superb regular articles available from the Project Syndicate website: http://www.project-syndicate.org/I post regular university and economics subject advice on my Twitter feed: @tutor2u_econI also curate the Tutor2u economics blogs – available here: http://www.tutor2u.net/blog/index.php/economics/