Economics at Peterhouse is one of the smaller subjects, with roughly an intake of 3 to 4 people a year, with the whole economics course having a strength of roughly 160 students. The University of Cambridge has introduced a pre-interview Written Assessment Test for those applying to study economics starting from 2016 and aside from that Peterhouse asks you to submit one example of recent written work (usually any essay written for school) which can be advantageous as you can send your best graded essay and possibly strengthen your application.

The Course

In the first year there are 5 papers, all of which are compulsory: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative methods (half maths and half statistics), Politics/Sociology and British Economic History. The last 2 papers on this list are essay based papers, which usually involves quite a bit of reading to do the supervision work. However, the variety in the papers has the massive benefit of preventing boredom occurring, as you will switch from doing work for each paper to another regularly. Also, the variety of the papers will help you decide what optional papers you want to do in later years. In the second year there are 3 compulsory papers (Micro, Macro and Econometrics) and you choose 1 optional paper from 6 choices, where three are borrowed from the HSPS department. In the third year there are 4 papers, of which you get to choose 2, plus a 7,500 word dissertation on an economics topic of your own choice.

How the course is taught

Lectures take place in the Sidgwick Site. The lectures will usually all take place before lunch (Earliest starting at 9am and latest will finish at 1pm) Monday till Friday. This will leave your afternoons pretty much free to do what you want (sport /work/going to the JCR etc.). Early morning lectures can sometimes be annoying if you've been out the night before and had minimal sleep. You will have roughly around 12 hours of lectures a week in Michaelmas and Lent term.

As you have a quite a few papers to do in the first year, you will find that you will have quite a few supervisors. You will roughly have 3 supervisions a week and expected usually to complete a set of questions for it. But for Politics/ Sociology and British Economic History you will usually have to write an essay for each supervision work. Your Director of Studies (DoS) is responsible for organising all your supervisors, who are likely to be from other colleges. They are very helpful if you have academic concerns, and you are likely to see them fairly regularly since normally they will supervise you for at least one paper in first year. Your supervision group, in the first year, will usually just consist of Petreans, but you may be mixed with other colleges occasionally.

Economics at Peterhouse

Studying economics at Peterhouse certainly has its advantageous. The relatively small group size means you easily get to know the other economist and there is good communication between students in different years. Nearly all of the books that you need to complete supervision work will be available in the Ward (Peterhouse) library. A lot of articles which are on the reading lists will also be available online. Going to the faculty library (located at the Sidgwick Site where lectures are held) is required every now and then to retrieve some books, but often you will find that the Ward library is usually well stocked up. The Sidgwick Site itself is luckily not too far away from Peterhouse; it only takes 5 minutes to get to if you go by bike and about 15 minutes to walk. Also Peterhouse is only about 5-10 minutes from the HSPS department and Library which does sometimes helps especially if you choose papers from the HSPS department in second year.

Advice for applicants

Like any other college, you must have maths at A-level standard or equivalent, due to the mathematical content in the course. Additionally, you might find it useful to do economics A-level and/or further maths A-level or their equivalents. Applying to Peterhouse will mean, unlike most other colleges, you will be asked to send a previously written essay before the interview which can easily be any essay you’ve written for school. If however you don’t have any essay based subjects to send as essay off, you should contact the Admissions Team. Most people consider it to be advantageous, since its gives the college more information to make its decision aside from your application and interview. You no longer need to do the Cambridge thinking skills assessment as part of your application however there is a new pre-interview assessment exam, and if invited for an interview, you can expect one half an hour interview, with about 15 minutes of general interview and the other 15 focusing on subject based questions. The latter is similar to what economics supervisions would be like, thus seeing how well you suit the supervision style of learning. The application process is holistic and all things are taken into account so the opportunity to send your own essays may prove very helpful especially if said essays have received high grades in school. Also the interview is the best place to stand out and the most important thing is to show how you think and look to solve problems.

Advice for offer-holders

You don't necessarily need to purchase any books as all are available in the libraries but buying some of the core text books can be convenient. It is particularly useful for skimming over notes before supervisions and also useful to have given that the Ward and faculty libraries are not open 24 hours a day. Also befriend your fellow Petrean economists; you will find that sharing books that you have taken out will be a lot easier than competing for those scarce faculty library books and additionally those in years above you may have some old books from previous years they no longer need and would be willing to let you borrow or buy off them.

Daniyal Ali
Economics Rep 2016-17

[Updated 2016]