Are you curious to know what it is like to study Economics and Management at Oxford?
Reading about a course only tells you so much, you do not get the reality that those who are studying it can provide.
Third-year student Ethan Dodd talks us through what life as an Economics and Management student at Oxford is really like.
Life at Oxford As An Economics and Management Student
E&M is a great course, offering depth in both subjects and a great deal of choice over what you study. Whilst applications are competitive, securing a place will lead you to an academically challenging but enjoyable degree, with like-minded people, and fantastic opportunities.
Lifestyle at university is, in general, pretty great. You’ll have more freedom than ever before, you’ll be studying a subject that you have chosen, and you have the space to grow into an adult.
In this article, I hope to give a flavour of what a day studying at the University of Oxford has to offer, but by no means does every day look like this. I would also like to state on record that structure and routine are not my strengths, so I will include some strategies I have found helpful in getting around this.
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10:30 AM - Wake Up
I am not a morning person, and I don’t want to be. I find I have better days if I allow myself to sleep until mid-morning, rather than forcing myself up at some ridiculous hour. I’ll shower, have some food, and get ready for the day.
Music is on at this point, I recommend Kanye for optimal motivation.
12 PM - Economics and Management Lecture
St Hilda’s college is about ten minutes away from a building called Examination Schools in Oxford, where lots of lectures take place. Unlike most students, I don’t have a bike, so I get to lectures on foot.
This term, one of the modules I’ve chosen to study is in public economics. This is the microeconomics of the public sector, and we study topics like income tax, healthcare, pensions and education. It is my favourite module – I am really passionate about policy and economics, so studying policy through formal economic analysis is great.
During the hour-long lecture, I have the lecturer’s slides open on my laptop whilst I take notes – this allows me to dip back to previous sections if I missed anything, whilst the lecturer continues to move forward.
1PM - Lunch
Lecture over, I’m hungry again. I’ll normally grab something in the centre of Oxford . Taylor’s is very popular amongst students, a chain of coffee and sandwich shops across Oxford – their baguettes are legendary.
After lunch, I go to one of the big University libraries, called the Radcliffe Camera. Here, I dig into my Economics work for the week, which usually involves a problem set and a short essay. To answer the problem questions, I constantly refer to the lecture slides, a few different textbooks, and the internet. Learning to harness the full set of resources available to you is so important to a productive workflow.
I have a tutorial soon, so I only spend about an hour in this library. Some might think this is pointless, but it is actually one of my main tips for people who don’t thrive under strict work routines: whenever you have a bit of random spare time in your day, get out your laptop and do some work.
It doesn’t have to be long at all. Even 20 minutes waiting for the bus is enough time to read and make notes on a few pages of an article. The marginal gains stack up.
4 PM - Economics and Management Tutorial
Tutorials are organised by your college, but often your tutors teach at other colleges too. My tutorials are on the far side of Oxford from St Hilda’s, at Worcester. I don’t mind this at all because it gives me an opportunity to see a different college.
There are two of us in this management tutorial, and we take turns answering the tutor’s questions. The topic is corporate strategy, which has strong overlaps with economics (using bits of game theory).
We finish by 5:30 PM, and my tutorial partner suggested we go to do some work together. He is from a different college and we met through these sessions. This is another cool feature of sometimes having tutorials outside of your own college – expanding your social circle.
5:30 PM - The Business School
We realise we are near Oxford’s Saïd Business School (SBS), which is by the train station. The Management side of the E&M course is administered by SBS, which means we have access to their building and all its incredible resources.
In fact, E&M is the only undergraduate course taught by the Business School, so we are the only undergraduates who are allowed in.
Probably the best thing about this, and the most infuriating thing for students on other courses, is that we get free coffee. It’s quite good too. My friend and I fill up our Saïd Business School branded coffee cups, and head to the library.
This is one of my favourite libraries in Oxford because there are two levels: in the lower level, some light talking is allowed, but upstairs is for intense silent study. We grab a table in the lower level so we can chat whilst we work.
I am still working through my Economics problems, finding them very tricky. The work at Oxford is tough, not only in quantity but also in difficulty. I think this is why the application process is so rigorous – colleges want to find students who are adaptable and passionate enough about their subject to stick with it when the going gets tough.
7:30 PM - Formal Dinner with college rugby team
I return to my accommodation with enough time to get changed into a suit and my gown (something you have to get used to at Oxford) and walk to college for a formal dinner. I live in off-site accommodation owned by St Hilda’s, but the main college site is only five minutes away.
One strange feature of Oxford life is that you can have a seemingly normal day, and then find yourself in suit, tie and gown, listening to a latin prayer before dinner is served. Tonight, I am with the college rugby team. I never played before university, but the team welcomed me in my first year, and now I love it. College sport is a great entry-level opportunity, and is something unique to Oxford – everyone can have a go, regardless of ability.
A formal dinner at St Hilda’s is renowned across Oxford because our tables are circular. Most colleges have long benches (think of the classic Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter series), but our round tables allow for a more personal meal with friends.
Dinner with the rugby team is always good fun and I enjoy the community feel.
9 PM - Attend Debate at OUS
Straight after dinner I rushed with a few friends to the Oxford Union Society to watch a debate. This is not to be confused with the Students’ Union, but is rather a society hosting debating, speaker, panel, and social events for members.
The latest debate motion was about ethical consumption and capitalism, which appeals to the economist in me. They usually have a good line-up of speakers, and the debates are thought-provoking.
This lasts a few hours. Afterwards, we enjoy a drink in the Society’s bar. Some of my friends decide to go to a club, but it is home time for me. This is another crucial tip: balance.
I had a slow start to the day, and have had time for social activities. But looking at my work output, I realise it would probably be the best option for me to go home, do a bit more work, and then sleep, rather than a lengthy club night.
Having balance in your work and social life is crucial – you have to be honest and hold yourself accountable.
11 PM - Home
Once home, I work for an hour and a half, finishing off some Economics problems. I am usually quite productive in the evenings, and so I like making time to do work here. I understand that mornings are better for some people, but that’s just not me.
I finish work, and then go to bed, tired from another busy Oxford day.
Final Thoughts Of An Oxford Economics and Management Student
I think university is the time where you come to understand yourself better than you ever have before. At a university like Oxford, it is so important to find a system that suits you and then stick to it – you have to find a way to work.
For me, it has taken some time. But now, approaching my final exams, I look back and appreciate the great time I’ve had at this university.
I’ve changed a lot. Had lots of new and exciting experiences. It can be very tough, and it will stretch you, but ultimately I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
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