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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Economics

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
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Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the field of Economics under the tutelage of high profile academics.

The aim of the UNSW Business School's Doctoral Program in Economics is to train you with the skills to identify, analyse and solve problems using original academic research in this field.

In the first year, you will attend rigorous coursework in micro and macro-economic theory, econometrics, and applied economic analysis.

In the second year, you will specialise in one of various fields within Economics by enrolling in field courses and attending field-specific lunches and seminars.

The last two years are completely dedicated to your research project, culminating in a doctoral thesis.

You will be involved in research projects from an early stage and enjoy the interdisciplinary engagement with a high-quality cohort of research students across the whole Business School. There will also be exciting opportunities to develop your teaching portfolio.

Ultimately, your PhD thesis will showcase your research skills and contributions your research makes to knowledge by offering original insights into the field.

Year 1

The first year of study is designed to provide a rigorous foundation to conduct research in Economics using a range of methodologies, as well as helping to build your communication and presentation skills. 

Common core coursework will cover fundamental qualitative and quantitative research methods, and key research skills such as identifying, framing, presenting, and writing academic contributions.

You will also work as an assistant on faculty research projects and start working on your own research as your skills develop. Through your interactions with faculty staff you will use this first year to identify your potential thesis supervisor for the PhD component of the program.

Throughout the first year, there will be invaluable ongoing engagement with a cohort of high-achieving research students, as well as integration into the community of scholars in the Business School.

Under the new UNSW3+ academic calendar, being introduced in 2019, you will study one of the three common core courses in each trimester, as well as additional Economics stream electives.

Upon successful completion of the first year, you will be awarded a Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies and continue into the PhD, Economics stream.

Program typeTerm 1Term 2Term 3
Program CoreCOMM8100COMM8101
Stream CoreECON7001
Research assistance work

Program Core Courses

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

COMM8100 Foundations of Business Research

This course covers the foundations of business research. The course has three parts. The first part of the course covers the intellectual foundations of research - i.e., thesis strategy, topic choice, humanities of science, theory building, academic writing, and research design options. The second part covers qualitative research design. The third and final part covers statistical methods - i.e. an introduction to probability, estimation and inference, hypothesis testing and regression models.

COMM8101 Statistical Methods for Business Research

This course aims to provide a strong background in statistical methods.

It covers the foundations of statistical methods for business research and includes topics such as quantitative research methods, experimental design and analysis, survey design and analysis, linear and multiple regressions and discrete choice models, as well as case study research.


COMM8102 Econometric Analysis

This course aims to provide a strong background in advanced statistical methods.

Students will focus on advanced econometrics such as time-series econometrics and application to financial data, as well as field interventions and policy evaluations.

COMM8103 Business Research Project Seminar

This course aims to help students develop their skills in writing and presenting their own research.

The course includes topics on research integrity and ethics, how to develop research questions and conduct literature surveys, and how to present and provide feedback on research. Students will undertake an individual major written research project, a research presentation, and provide feedback on other students' research.

Stream Core Courses

You must complete the following courses:

ECON7001 Microeconomic Theory I

This course deals with individual optimal decision making and equilibrium. Fundamental topics covered include rational choice, utility maximisation, expenditure minimisation, production theory, and decision making under uncertainty. Partial equilibrium, game theory and non-competitive environments will also be covered. The course also explores economic environments with asymmetric information - adverse selection, signalling and screening.

ECON7002 Macroeconomic Theory I

The first half of course will focus on dynamic macroeconomics based on general equilibrium theory with added emphasis on neoclassical growth models and dynamic programming, models with uncertainty, overlapping generation models, real business cycle theory, and monetary policy models. The second half is on the dynamics of labour markets, unemployment, and micro-foundations of macroeconomics. For each topic, we will also learn problem solving and numerical techniques and apply them in the particular topic in discussion. In the second half of the course, some data analysis is also part of the learning process.

ECON7004 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 solving equations and finding fixed points, calculus and static and dynamic optimisation to analyse economic problems.

ECON7101 Microeconomic Theory II

This course covers 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.

ECON7102 Macroeconomic Theory II

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.

Year 2

During the second year, you continue in the Economics stream with a choice of up to eight additional units of advanced coursework in topics such as Industrial Organisation, International Economics, Labour Economics, Development and Political Economics, Asset Pricing, Behavioural and Experimental Economics, and Econometric Theory. You will also have the opportunity to take subjects outside of your specialised discipline.

Stream Electives

You must also choose up to eight elective courses from the following list or from other advanced courses as recommended by the School's Research Committee and approved by the Stream Convenor.

  • ECON7201 Advanced Econometric Theory and Methods
  • ECON7204 Macroeconometrics
  • ECON7205 Microeconometrics
  • ECON7202 Policy Evaluation Methods
  • ECON7301 Industrial Organisation
  • ECON7302 International Economics
  • ECON7303 Labour Economics
  • ECON7307 Development and Political Economics
  • ECON7309 Economic Measurement
  • ECON7310 Experimental Economics
  • Topics in Microeconomics (course under development)
  • Topics in Macroeconomics (course under development)
  • FINS5574 Empirical Asset Pricing
  • FINS5576 Asset Pricing Theory

Years 3-4

In the last two years in the program, you will primarily conduct full-time research and work towards completing your doctoral thesis.

Your thesis gives you the chance to address some of the biggest challenges in Economics and make a significant contribution to research and practice in these areas. You will conduct original research to explore ideas and generate new knowledge that contributes to ongoing academic debate in your field.

It will offer new critical thinking and withstand critical analysis from expert researchers in the area, setting you firmly on the path to a potential career in a high quality academic institution anywhere in the world.

  • The equivalent of a three-year undergraduate degree plus an equivalent postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline with an overall average grade of at least 75 (Distinction).
  • OR
  • The equivalent of multiple undergraduate degrees (e.g. a dual degree) with at least one in a relevant discipline and an overall average grade of at least 75 (Distinction).
  • OR
  • The equivalent of a four-year degree of Bachelor with first or upper second-class Honours in a relevant discipline.

Applicants must provide results for the GRE unless explicitly waived by the Stream Convenor.

English language requirements also apply.

NOTE: These are the minimum requirements for admission. Admission will ultimately be at the discretion of the UNSW Business School and will rely on the Business School having appropriate research supervision capacity and resources available for the applicant’s research interests.

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

While the UNSW Business School is at the heart of the Kensington campus 'village' that is bustling with cafes, bars and retail, the whole of Sydney is right on our doorstep - including world-famous beaches, a wide variety of food, entertainment and culture, plus stunning scenery to enjoy and explore for free.

There are more than 300 clubs and societies at UNSW covering social activities such as music, movies and sport, but also academic interests including an Actuarial Society, a Business Society, an Economics Society and a Society of Financial Technology amongst many others. Joining a student club is a great way to meet new friends and broaden your experience. But as well as that, you may also make potentially important research or academic connections with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Find out more about UNSW’s Clubs and Societies

Stay active

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

Find out more about the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre


While the UNSW Business School at the heart of the Kensington campus ‘village’ that is bustling with cafes, bars and retail, the whole of Sydney is right on our doorstep including world-famous beaches, a wide variety of food, entertainment and culture, plus stunning scenery to enjoy and explore for free.

Find out more about UNSW Campus Life

Strong support

When you join the UNSW research community, you join a passionate collective of people who are using research to transform minds, transform lives, and transform the world.

We want all our research students to reach their maximum potential and to achieve this we offer in-depth faculty supervision and support, as well as study skills workshops and mentoring programs.

Our ‘Meet the CEO’ series offers unique behind the scenes business insights, and there are a number of orientation, leadership and mentor programs specifically designed for postgraduate students.

Find out more about student support

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Economics, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
4 years full-time; 5-8 years part-time
Commencing terms
Term 1 – February
Program fee (total)*
* Fees are indicative only

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

Find a degree, course or interest