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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Economics

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
  • FAQs

Why choose this research degree?

  • Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge in economics
  • Gain a deep understanding of modern economic theory, econometrics and applied economic analysis
  • Produce a high quality thesis under the supervision of our academics
  • Access the very latest business research and learn from the high profile academics
  • Be part of the UNSW Business School’s vibrant, globally recognised research community
  • Opportunity to be published in a leading international journal

Who is this degree for?

  • Graduates with excellent results in their undergraduate (honours) degree
  • Postgraduates with excellent results in their Masters by research degree 

Job and career prospects

  • Academic and research positions in Australia or overseas
  • Economics research and analysis roles
  • Research intensive positions in the public sector

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics consists of four core courses, three elective courses and a thesis. Courses are aimed at equipping students with the necessary knowledge to produce high quality economic research and bring students to the research frontier. After completing the core curriculum in the first semester, students must choose at least 3 specialised field courses in their second semester.

Once PhD students complete satisfactorily the required coursework, they work full-time in research to produce a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of a faculty advisor.


The following courses are completed in the first year of study.

Study four compulsory core courses

ECON6001 Microeconomic Analysis

The first part of the course deals with individual decision making and basic game theory. Fundamental topics covered include utility maximisation, expenditure minimisation, duality, welfare changes, and decision making under uncertainty. Producer theory and market equilibrium may also be discussed, along with an introduction to basic game theory which is an essential tool to analyse strategic behaviour.

The second part of the course builds on the first by exploring economic environment with asymmetric information (asymmetric information, signalling and screening), as well as other topics in contract theory such as principal-agent problems and incomplete contracts.

ECON6002 Macroeconomic Analysis

Advanced analysis of macroeconomic issues.

Topics include:

The structure of macroeconomic models, growth theory and capital accumulation, the structure of short run classical and Keynesian models, equilibrium and disequilibrium models of the business cycle, open economy models, fiscal policy and deficits,.monetary policy and stabilisation theory.

ECON6003 Econometric Analysis

This course is designed to provide a rigorous foundation of modern econometrics for applied research in economics. The first part of the course covers classic econometric concepts and techniques, such as moment estimation, maximum likelihood, least squares regression, and hypothesis testing and inference. Where necessary some statistical theory as well as basic matrix algebra will be taught. The second part of the course builds on these sound fundamentals of econometric theory. Topics covered could include instrumental variables, generalized method of moments (GMM), the bootstrap, quantile regression, or panel methods. Students will be required to use statistical packages to conduct econometric data analysis.

ECON6004 Mathematical Economics

This course is an introduction to mathematical techniques that are widely used in economics. We study the properties of sets, vector spaces, functions and equations and use them to describe economic environments. We employ mathematical techniques such as equation solving, static and dynamic optimisation and duality to analyse economic problems.

Then choose three courses relevant to your thesis*

*Course selection in consultation with supervisor or postgraduate research coordinator.

ECON6101 Advanced Microeconomic Analysis

Advanced topics in microeconomics. These may include: existence and uniqueness of competitive equilibrium, the welfare theorems, incomplete markets, games with complete information, games with incomplete information, market equilibria with asymmetric information (adverse selection and moral hazard), principal-agent models and mechanism design.

ECON6102 Advanced Macroeconomic Analysis

Consumption and investment theories including models of optimisation, overlapping generation models with money, real business cycle models, equilibrium asset pricing, multiplicity of equilibrium and bubbles. Recent topics in contracting and market imperfections and the role of policy.

ECON6201 Advanced Econometric Theory and Methods

This course covers a selection of advanced econometric methods such as maximum likelihood, generalised methods of moments, simulated maximum likelihood, simulated methods of moments, Bayesian inference, and bootstrap methods. Irrespective of the particular topics taught in any year, the course will emphasise the theoretical foundations of methods and their application to substantive economic problems in areas such as financial econometrics, micro-econometrics and macro-econometrics. This course is designed for students who want to acquire a higher level of knowledge in the area of econometrics beyond that expected of a good applied economist.

ECON6202 Policy Evaluation Methods

This course provides a set of statistical tools and research designs that are useful in conducting empirical research in applied microeconomics and related fields. Because of the importance of economic research with direct policy implications, the focus will be on methods for estimating causal effects. We will critically discuss various techniques and indicate strengths and weaknesses. We will review several different approaches to program evaluation and apply these methods to real data, in the context of policies and programs in a broad range of areas including development, labour markets, health care, political economy, social welfare and poverty, education, and crime. The course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to be able to conduct program evaluations and to be informed consumers of such research.

ECON6203 Applied Macroeconometrics

This course provides an introduction to econometrics as it is applied in macroeconomics. Emphasis is on hands-on implementation of the methods covered in the course. Topics include macroeconomic data, linear and nonlinear time series models, practical issues with likelihood-based inference for these models, computational approaches to hypothesis testing and model comparison, forecast evaluation, and structural identification. The course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to be able to undertake econometric analysis of the type commonly associated with modern macroeconomic research.

ECON6205 Microeconometric Modelling

This course covers the specification, estimation, and use of econometric methods that are necessary to model discrete choices made by individuals, households, firms, etc. Situations where data are available either as a cross section or as a panel will be covered. Special emphasis will be placed on illustrating the appropriate use of such data and application of associated models using case studies drawn from health, labour, and environmental economics as well as business disciplines such as finance and marketing. The course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to be able to conduct research in the specialised area of micro-econometrics and to be informed consumers of such research.

ECON6301 Strategic Market Behaviour and Government Regulation

Topics covered will be from amongst the following. Theory of the firm, production costs, monopoly, dominant and fringe firms, cartels, oligopoly and monopolistic competition, differentiated products, regulation, advertising, horizontal and vertical integration, strategic behaviour by firms, and R &D. Both theoretical and empirical results will be covered in the course.

ECON6302 International Trade

The theory and practice of international trade. The course will emphasise both traditional neo-classical trade theory as well as the more modern strategic trade theory. The principles and predictions of these theories will be used to consider the recent developments in Australian trading relations and international trading relations in general.

ECON6303 Economics of Labour Markets

Traditional models of labour supply; participation and hours of work, immigration. Provision of training and skills, human capital theory. The theory of screening, specific and general skills models. Demand for labour, marginal productivity theory, labour hoarding, quit rates and turnover. Internal labour markets. The theory of wage differentials and the structure of earnings. Labour market segmentation. Trade unions and theories of bargaining.

ECON6306 Environmental Economics

This course considers the main elements of environmental economics and cost benefit analysis as it relates to the assessment of environmental issues.
Topics include: pollution and pollution policy; environmental cost-benefit analysis and economic methods for measuring costs and benefits; species extinction and irreversibility; environmental ethics and discounting; the environment and developing countries; and the sustainable economy.

ECON6307 Health Economics

The course provides an economic approach to the analysis of health and medical care markets. Topics covered include the production of health, the production and consumption of medical care, the relationship between health and wealth, the health workforce and the training of health professionals, social insurance and the organisation of health insurance markets. Throughout the course reference is made to current government health policy.

ECON6309 Economic Measurement

This course covers the theory and practice of economic measurement, including the measurement of key economic indicators such as the Consumer Price Index, Gross Domestic Product and productivity growth. Approaches employed by international statistical agencies will be highlighted, along with the possibility that policy implications are often reliant on the choice of measurement techniques. The course will be technically rigorous, particularly in the use of microeconomic theory and econometric analysis, and will draw on the latest international research developments.

ECON6310 Advanced Experimental and Behavioural Economics

This course is designed to deepen students' understanding of the experimental method of investigation in economics research. Some prior study of experimental and behavioural economics in undergraduate studies is desirable. In the first half of the course we will review questions of experimental design and implementation such as appropriate procedures of subject recruitment, programming tools, statistical and econometric analysis of experimental data, and other methodological issues in experimental economics. Further, we will survey the topics covered by current research into experimental and behavioural economics, as well as the main results and conclusions.  In the second half of the course, students will form groups and develop their own experimental project, from design over programming and the actual implementation to the analysis and write-up of a research paper. Grading will rely on class participation, exam and the research paper.

ECON6350 Special Topics in Economics

This course provides a comprehensive and in-depth treatment of a topic at the forefront of contemporary research in economics or econometrics.

Potential topics: political economics, auction theory, economic measurement, real business cycle theory.

Note that these are minimal requirements and do not guarantee entry.

  • A four year undergraduate degree with honours class IIA or higher in a related discipline; or
  • A strong masters by research degree in a related discipline; or
  • An equivalent academic qualification or level of experience
  • Applicants must provide results for the GRE unless explicitly waived by the PGRC

English language requirements also apply

Information on how to apply for this degree is available at How to apply for a research degree.

To get the most from your Postgraduate research study, spend some time away from the library or laptop, making the most of UNSW Business School's dynamic learning spaces, facilities and student support services.

Get involved and expand your network

Make lifelong friends (and potential research or academic connections) at a range of social events. Why not join a student club – with more than 180 social, cultural, sports and professional clubs to choose from, it's the perfect way to broaden your experience. The Graduate Student Development office is a great place to enhance your career with leadership development.

All the support you need to achieve

As well as in-depth faculty supervision and support, you can also make the most of our study skills workshops and mentoring programs. Our Meet the Executive series offers unique behind the scenes business insights, and there are a number of orientation, leadership and mentor programs specifically designed for postgraduate students.

Stay active on campus

Exercise boosts your mental wellbeing and can help you deal with exam or assignment pressures. It's easy to stay fit with state of the art sporting facilities on campus, including a 50m indoor pool, fitness centre, squash courts and a range of competitive sports teams.

Everything you need in one place

The UNSW Kensington campus is like a village hub, with cafes, bars, banks, a post office, medical and dental centres as well as retail outlets. It's a short bus trip to Sydney's CBD, many beautiful beaches, the SCG and Centennial Park, and movie theatres at Fox Studios.

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Economics, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
Full-time 3-4 years
Commencing semesters
Semester 1 - March
Semester 2 - July

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

Find a degree, course or interest