Economics is the study of how people behave and how societies allocate scarce resources among competing uses.
Every day, people and society are confronted by choices. Should you go to university or start a career? What should you do with your next dollar? Should the government raise the minimum wage, or not? How do we address the big issues in the world such as poverty and climate change?
Economics is the study of how people and societies make such decisions in the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Central to economic analysis is the study of how people respond to incentives in a market economy, how these incentives may be modified by government intervention, and whether and how government intervention is warranted.
At Canterbury, emphasis is placed on the three core areas of study. These are:
- Microeconomics - examines the behaviour of individuals, households and firms, and their interactions in markets. Microeconomics examines economic choices in decentralised markets and reaches conclusions about economic welfare. Markets which are regulated by government, or have only a few participants, or are characterised by different amounts of information, are also examined.
- Macroeconomics - examines the performance of an economy as a whole, and provides insights into the reasons for fluctuations and trends in national income, unemployment, inflation, interest rates, and exchange rates. It also involves examination of a government's taxation, expenditure, monetary and exchange rate policies.
- Econometrics - brings economic theories to the data. It is the study of methods aimed at i) testing economic theories and ii) providing quantitative information on economic relationships for policy analyses and decisions. Courses provide both an accessible amount of available econometric methods, and numerous illustrations of these methods with applications to real data sets in hands-on laboratory classes that introduce students to the latest developments in computing and web technology.
Study opportunities for Economics students include hands-on learning in internships or consultancy projects and a study tour to South America.
Graduates will find careers in a wide range of sectors depending on their interests and complementary skills. Industries that employ Economics graduates include banking, insurance, the energy sector, government and policy, education.
The compulsory second year courses for the Economics major are:
- ECON 206 Intermediate Macroeconomics
- ECON 207 Intermediate Microeconomics - Households and Government
- ECON 208 Intermediate Microeconomics - Firms and Markets
UC Economics courses cover a diverse range of current topics such as , and more. Explore the full list of courses offered in Economics
Economics can be a major in the Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. Which degree you take depends on your interests and the other courses you intend to combine Economics with. Common combinations include:
- BCom: Finance, Marketing, Accounting
- BA: Political Science, Philosophy, History
- BSc: Psychology, Geography, Mathematics, Statistics
See the Useful Links section of this page for all required courses in each degree
Economics is also an excellent second degree for those students undertaking the Bachelor of Laws. Economics is also available as a minor in the BA and is a great addition to an Arts degree.
This degree plan is for those students who wish to keep open the option of entering postgraduate study in Economics. It is also advisable to have studied Mathematics, Calculus and Modelling in Year 13.
Economics is offered under the following research-focused Master's degrees: MCom, MSc and MA.
Master of Commerce (MCom)
There are two pathways leading to the MCom in Economics.
A. For students with an undergraduate degree, or equivalent, in economics or another approved subject
MCom in 180 points – students complete 12 months of further study comprising 120 points of 600-level papers (from ECON 601-379) and a research dissertation (ECON 691; 60 points). For fulltime students requiring no additional preparatory work, this pathway can be completed in approximately 12 months: two semesters of coursework followed by the research dissertation over the summer.
Requirements for admission to this pathway are:
(i) B+ average in final-year economics courses
(ii) Successful completion of core papers in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and econometrics, at both the intermediate- and advanced-undergraduate levels.
B. For students with an honours degree, or equivalent, in economics or another approved subject
MCom by thesis - students complete two further years of study with the second year being by thesis. This pathway is designed for students who have previously completed a graduate-level coursework programme, and consists solely of a thesis (ECON 695; 120 points) on some topic in economics. The main purpose is to demonstrate an ability to undertake a significant piece of independent research (under the supervision of two academic staff members), using the established methods of research appropriate to economic analysis.
Requirements for admission to this pathway are:
(iii) Award of honours, or equivalent, at the second class (division 1) level or better (approximately B/B+)
(iv) Availability of an appropriate supervisor.
The Graduate Studies Coordinator (Economics) will help students who qualify under (iii) to establish if there is a suitable staff member able to act as their supervisor. This cannot be guaranteed. The minimum study period for full-time students is 7 months, and the thesis must be submitted within 12 months to be eligible for Honours, and within 24 months to be eligible for a pass. Part-time students have twice the time limits of full-time students. Most full-time students take approximately 12 months.
Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc)
For students with an honours degree or equivalent who wish to do a thesis-only (120 point) masters degree, the MA (Economics) and MSc (Economics) are also available. Requirements and prerequisites are very similar to those for the MCom. For more information, contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator (Economics).
Applications are welcome at any time. NOTE: international students should apply at least four months before the desired semester start date. The University Calendar contains the regulations for all study undertaken at the University of Canterbury, and should be consulted carefully by all students.
There are three requirements for admission into Part II (Masters by Thesis) of the Masters degree.
- Applicants shall normally have qualified for an Honours degree or passed Part I of the Masters degree, in Economics, with at least a B average. Applicants for the MCom degree must have passed at least two graduate papers from the three core subjects of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and econometrics.
- The candidate shall normally have demonstrated their ability to write in clear and accurate English by providing an original essay or research project written by the candidate as part of a graduate course in economics.
- The candidate shall have obtained the agreement of an academic staff member of the Department to provide direct supervision of the research. This may involve agreement on a proposed direction for the candidate's research programme.
The Graduate Studies Coordinator (Economics) will help students who qualify under points 1 and 2 to establish if there is a suitable staff member who is willing to act as their supervisor. Note that some staff members may not be available because they are due to take overseas sabbatical leave, or because they already have substantial supervising responsibilities. Therefore the Department cannot guarantee that an applicant will be allocated his or her first choice of supervisor.
A candidate for Part II of a Masters degree is expected to be a full-time student. Part-time study is permitted for employment, health, family or other reasons, but requires approval by the Academic Board. The minimum time for full-time study for Part II of the MA degree is 1 year; and a full-time student must submit his or her thesis within 2 years to be eligible for Honours, and within 3 years to be eligible for a pass. The minimum time for full-time study for Part II of the MCom degree is 7 months, and the thesis must be submitted within 12 months to be eligible for Honours, and within 24 months to be eligible for a pass. Part-time students have twice the time limits of full-time students.
The Master of Applied Finance and Economics (MAFE) is a coursework-based masters degree that combines traditional postgraduate training in finance and economics with intensive, hands-on applications of tools and techniques relevant to the business, financial, banking, and public sectors.
International student applications for next year's MAFE intake must be received by no later than 1 October. Domestic student applications must be received by no later than 1 December.
Who is this degree for?
Applicants must have a completed undergraduate degree from a recognised tertiary institution. Other than that, the MAFE is designed to accommodate a variety of backgrounds. For students with an undergraduate degree in just one of finance and economics, it offers an ideal way of getting “up to speed” in the other discipline. For students who have little interest in the significant research component of traditional postgraduate degrees, it offers a wholly coursework-based alternative. And for students with only a limited background in economics and finance, it provides the opportunity to become professionally qualified in these areas.
The MAFE consists of a total of 10 courses. A capstone course that involves hands-on applications of advanced tools and techniques is compulsory for all students. In addition, most students will be required to take a preparatory course in January-February. The remaining eight (for students required to take the preparatory course) or nine (all other students) courses must be split evenly between offerings in finance and economics.
The MAFE allows students to obtain in-depth knowledge and understanding of various areas in economics and finance, including asset pricing, behavioural and experimental economics, international money and finance, microeconomic theory, monetary economics, quantitative methods and modelling, and risk management.
For full-time students, the MAFE is intended to be completed in 12-13 months. Students enter in January or February (depending on background) and finish in February of the following year. Admission to the MAFE is generally only possible in January or February. UC undergraduate students completing an economics or finance major may apply to begin in July, but permission to do so is not guaranteed.
The minimum entry requirements to be eligible for admission to the MAFE are:
- At least one university course in microeconomic theory or applications at the intermediate (post-introductory) level.\
- At least one university-level course in business finance or financial management.
- At least one university-level mathematics course containing calculus.
- At least one university-level statistics course containing estimation and hypothesis testing.
The MAFE is designed to produce graduates who are both ‘work-ready’ in the short run, and have the intellectual foundation to succeed in the long run. Graduates will be qualified to pursue careers in both private and public sectors; for example, in commercial and investment banks, corporate treasuries, government ministries and central banks, consultancies and think-tanks, and international organisations.
Want to know more?
The Department of Economics and Finance offers the PhD in Economics, and students with a postgraduate degree of a suitably high standard in Economics are eligible to apply for admission.
The PhD degree is by thesis only, although preparatory coursework may be required. The purpose of the thesis is to undertake an extensive, sustained and original piece of independent research (under the supervision of 2-3 academic staff members) that makes a significant contribution to intellectual knowledge. To determine whether suitable supervision is potentially available, please consult the Department’s researchers.
Enquiries and Applications
Potential applicants in Economics should contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator in Economics and provide the following:
• Complete academic transcripts, including course outlines for advanced economics courses
• Examples of any formal written work, such as a masters thesis
• PhD research proposal
An interview may also be required.
The PhD typically requires the equivalent of 3–4 years full-time study.
Fees and Financial Assistance
The University offers PhD scholarships for both domestic and international students, and there are also scholarships from external organisations. For a list of doctoral scholarhips available visit www.canterbury.ac.nz/get-started/scholarships/
In addition, the Department of Economics and Finance provides the following sources of funding to PhD students in Economics:
1. A scholarship to cover tuition fees for 3 years of fulltime PhD study; and
2. For students with good performance and without other substantial University of Canterbury sources of funding (such as the UC Doctoral Scholarship), $5,000 per year in their 2nd and 3rd years of study in return for research/teaching/administrative assistance. This is conditional on sufficient Departmental funds being available.
Find out more
For more detailed information about the UC PhD visit www.canterbury.ac.nz/postgraduate/phd-and-doctoral-study/
What is an internship?
An internship is an opportunity to get some practical experience in a business or organisation. Internships are for educational purposes only and there is no expectation of reward or pay and you are not employed by the host organisation or the University. This can be varied by special arrangement and some internship opportunities can be paid (Five summer opportunities arise annually with ANZ bank for Economics majors. These are paid roles.)
There are two types of internships:
- Project based – you will work on a project, usually as part of a team of students, for a business or organisation. The project will address a real world question that the organisation wants answered. Organisations that have engaged students for projects include World Vision, Bradley Nuttall Finance and Ngai Tahu Properties.
- Work-place based – you will be located in an organisation in a “work experience” environment. These opportunities will often occur over the summer. Students have been placed with ANZ Bank (this is a paid opportunity), Environment Canterbury and ACC (students in the latter two received a $1000 fees scholarship).
How do I get an internship?
Students who have completed or who are enrolled in both Intermediate Microeconomics courses ECON 207 and ECON 208) or both level-200 Finance courses FINC 201 and FINC 203, are eligible to apply for any opportunities that arise. Priority is given to Economics majors and Finance majors.
Can I get academic credit for an internship?
Who do I contact about internships?
See Industry and partners for more information or contact Stephen Hickson for more information.
The Economics Study Tour to South America is an annual summer semester programme that provides students with a unique opportunity to learn about the wine industry on location in Chile and Argentina. The course uses economic thinking to understand the business of produing and selling wine.
Prior to departure students will study similar facets of the Canterbury/Marlborough wine industry such as pricing, competitors, output and other economic decisions. On return they will produce a report comparing the industries in the two regions.
Students who participate in the tour will gain significant experiences and strengths to boost their degrees and CVs:
- They will be able to apply economic concepts to the given industry.
- They will be provided with a firsthand and detailed look at the wine industry.
- They will gain experience in cultural engagement including language and negotiating with people from other countries.
This course is limited entry. The maximum enrolment is 30.
In this challenge for Finance students, teams compete to present the best company analysis, research report, and presentation for an opportunity to vie for the regional and global titles. For business and finance students, it’s an extraordinary CV builder and a chance to interact with the industry’s top firms.
The UC team competes against six teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students from other New Zealand universities. Each team prepares a sell-side investment report and presents their work to the judges, who are CFA Charter holders and work for top fund managers in New Zealand.
UC student teams have consistently featured in the top three since the competition began in 2008.
The Erskine Fellowships are used to bring distinguished visitors from around the world to UC to contribute to our teaching and research.
- See Erskine Programme for more information.
Previous Erskine visitors:
- Professor Paul Heald, University of Illinois, America
- Associate Professor John Landon-Lane, Rutgers University, New Jersey, America
- Associate Professor Ryan Whitby, University of Utah, America
- Professor Ehud Ronn, University of Texas, Autin, America
- Professor Doug Allen, Simon Fraser University, Canada
- Professor Andy Puckett, University of Tennessee, America
- Professor James Alm, Tulane University, America
- Professor Louis Murray, University College Dublin, Ireland
- Professor Ray Rees, Ludwig-Maximilians Unversitaet Munchen, Germany
- Professor Anindya Banerjee, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
- Professor Aaron Smith, University of California Davis, America
- Professor Guido Erreygers, University of Antwerp, Belgium
- Professor Dr Martin Bohl, Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster, Germany
- Professor Rossitsa Yalamova, University of Lethbridge Alberta, Canada
- Professor Nicolas Schmitt, Simon Fraser University, Canada
- Associate Professor Christina Atanasova, Simon Fraser University, Canada
- Professor William Schulze, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, America
- Professor Dr Daniel Schunk, Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany
- Professor Dr Juergen Wolters, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
- Professor Roger Stover, Iowa State University, America
- Professor Richard Froyen, University of North Carolina, America
- Associate Professor Robert Mohr, University of New Hampshire, America
- Professor Ray Rees, University of Munich, Germany
- Professor Ajai Singh, Lehigh University, America
- Associate Professor John Spraggon, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, America
- Professor Douglas W. Allen, Simon Fraser University, America
- Associate Professor Joel Harper, Oklahoma State University, America
- Associate Professor Duncan James, Fordham University, America
- Professor Kenneth M. Kletzer, University of California, Santa Cruz, America
- Professor Michael LaCour-Little, California State University, Fullerton, America
- Professor Ruth Towse, CIPPM Bournemouth University, United Kingdom
Economic Society Prize
- 2017 Damien Looi
- 2016 Benjamin Davies
- 2015 Beini (Echo) Guo
- 2014 Nick Mulligan
- 2013 Nathan Chappell
- 2012 Lewis Kerr
- 2011 Hayden Skilling
- 2010 Ross Kendall
- 2009 Nicholas Sander
- 2008 David Baqaee
- 2007 Brendan Kite
- 2006 Worapree Maneesoonthorn
- 2005 Shangqin Hong
- 2004 Richard M. Bramley
- 2003 Catherine Sleeman
- 2002 Nicholas NcNabb
- 2001 Isabelle Sin
- 2000 Michael Wilkinson
- 1997 Kerry Papps
- 1996 Christian Hawkesby
- 1995 Richard Edlin
- 1994 Mark Pilbrow
- 1993 Graeme Guthrie
- 1990 Mark Carrodus
- 1989 Julian Wright
- 1988 Kelly Tonkin
- 1987 Philip Gunby
Archibald Charles Callaway Prize in Economics
- 2017 Nicholas Gunby
- 2016 Damien Looi
- 2015 Benjamin Davies
- 2014 Sam Wyma
- 2013 Amy Rice
- 2012 Nathan Chappell
- 2011 Lewis Kerr
- 2010 Hayden Skilling
- 2009 Ross Kendall
- 2008 James Graham
- 2007 Scott Bowman
- 2006 Brendan Kite
- 2005 Katherine Kok
- 2004 Jake Sunderland
- 2003 Richard M. Bramley
- 2002 Catherine Sleeman
- 2001 Gareth Jones
- 2000 Isabelle Sin
- 1998 Blair Adams
- 1997 Julie Tam
Prize in 200-level Finance
- 2017 Bing Wan
- 2016 Yue Gu
- 2015 Kestrel Ritchie
- 2014 Beini Guo
- 2013 Rachel Zhong
- 2012 Nicky Xiu
- 2011 Mei Lim
- 2010 Hayden Skilling
- 2009 Clyde Bowes
Prize in 300-level Finance
- 2017 Joshua Allan
- 2016 Nanxi Dong
- 2015 Marilyn Woo
- 2014 Ran Zhong
- 2013 Nicky Xiu
- 2012 Mei Lim
- 2011 Chris Simcock
- 2010 Julian Bennett-Longley
- 2009 Samuel Clement
John McMillan Scholarship in Mathematics and Economics
- 2013 Rebecca Burgess
- 2011 Alex Warnaar
- 2010 William Lentjes
- 2009 Samuel Corbett-Davies
- 2008 Katy Bergstrom and Ross Kendall
Madam Tiong Guok Hua Memorial Prize
- 2017 Adam Cox
- 2016 Shayna Black
- 2014 Logan Donald
- 2013 Rebecca Burgess
- 2012 Richard Ashby
- 2011 Alex Warnaar
- 2010 Lewis Kerr
- 2009 Hayden Skilling
- 2008 Ross Kendall
- 2007 Daniel Woods
Northington Partners Scholarship
- 2016 Michael Jolly
- 2015 James Hill
- 2014 Bryn McLennan
Seamus Hogan Memorial Prize
- 2015 Amy Rice
- 2015 Amy Rice
Motu Environmental Economics Essay Prize
- 2017 Rosa Bella Hill and Rosemary Irving
Why participate in Economics experiments?
- Make money
- Earn $14 - $18 on average per hour
- Fun and interesting
- Be a part of current economic research
- Typically, experiments range in length from one to three hours
Learn from our students' experiences
'The academic staff at UC are very understanding and accommodating with students at postgrad level...'
'We are constantly meeting new people, including CFOs and senior managers of large companies...'
'I enjoy exploring economics and finance related theories and applying them to daily experiences...'
'Economics and Mathematics provide powerful tools for solving problems in lots of fields…'
'With Economics and Finance, I can go into banks, consulting, and even investment banking...'
'It’s cool when you start to understand the underlying causes of what is happening in the world...'
'I have fun learning the ways in which numbers can represent the real world...'
For more information on studying Economics
contact a member of staff
News, events and seminars
Business and economics at UC first equal in New Zealand according to recent university rankings.
The series brings leading economists to Canterbury to provide a lecture highlighting their recent work.