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Economics & Management – interview with Haseem Shah at Oxford

Can you give us a short introduction about yourself?

I’m Haseem Shah, a second year E&M student at St Edmund Hall (Teddy Hall). I’m from East London (Ilford) and attended a selective grammar school there; Ilford County High School. I studied Maths, Economics and Geography at A-Level. I took a gap year in between finishing my A-Levels and starting university where I did an 8-month internship at Deloitte.

How do you find studying Economics and Management? E&M has a reputation of being easier than other degrees.

I’m constantly reminded of the “Easy & Manageable” reputation of E&M, and granted, it probably has a lighter workload than some of the other science subjects, but you have to remember it is all relative to the Oxford standard. It still requires a great amount of work and commitment if you want to perform well. We generally get set an essay and a problem sheet or two problem sheets a week. I really enjoy my degree and am very glad I chose to study it, it has a great balance of quantitative and qualitative reasoning, with a mix of maths and essays, and you can balance your options to tailor the course to what suits you best, whether you love to write or love to do maths.

How do you think a humanities subject compares to a science?

The main difference is less contact hours. We have an average of 7 hours of lectures a week and 3 hours of tutorials, whereas many science students have packed timetables of labs, lectures, practicals, tutorials etc. Humanities are more of a self study kind of degree with lots of readings and textbook work. There is also the essay writing aspect that you don’t get in science subjects.

Could you tell us more about your course, the content and the structure?

It’s generally split into three areas; Economics, General Management and Financial Management, which are the three modules you cover in first year. Economics starts off with just Micro and Macro, then a whole range of specific options open up in 2nd and 3rd year, from Monetary Policy to Behavioural Economics, Game Theory and British Economic History etc. There are 3 compulsory courses for finalists; Micro, Macro and Quantitative Economics. You then have to choose at least 2 management options, which can be financial (Accounting or Finance) or general (e.g. Strategy, Marketing etc.). It’s important to note that we don’t have 2nd year exams, so you start your “finals” modules in 2nd year, and there are 8 modules you have to do (the 3 core econ ones and 5 options, of which at least 2 have to be management).

What’s your favourite thing about studying here so far?

The Oxford vibe and culture is probably my favourite thing, I love the traditions such as formals, wearing sub fusc, and generally the grand, old nature of the town, the buildings, the libraries. It’s all so Harry Potter, and you really feel a sense of history and achievement here.

least favourite thing?

The workload, although I do E&M, it is still a lot of work and probably more than most other universities. There is a huge emphasis on academic excellence here and you can’t afford to slack for a couple of days, you’d just be playing catch up.

Did you have any expectations about Oxford before you came here?

Lots of work, lots of incredibly smart, interesting people, and an institution steeped in tradition. I also expected everyone to be really posh.

How does the real thing compare?

It’s as I expected except for the preconception of what the people would be like, there are so many down to earth people here, and although there are lots of “posh” people too, generally they’re all incredibly nice and you can get on with nearly everyone here.

Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, try and enjoy the process, especially if you get to the interview stage. Go for a walk, explore Oxford, make friends and try and stay relaxed.

Anything else you want to say?

Good luck with your applications!

Haseem Shah, Economics and Management at Oxford University

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