Trinity College Dublin

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Economics (TSM)

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+ EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO

+ Non-EU Applicants

+ Mature Student - Supplementary Application Form

+ Advanced Entry Applications

What is Economics?

Many of the problems that dominate our newspaper headlines are economic problems. Why are some countries poor with very low growth rates while a small number of countries enjoy high living standards and high growth rates? What is the role of international trade and finance in explaining these global inequalities? Why are some countries so much more successful at creating employment or reducing unemployment than other countries? Within countries, why do some people earn so much more than others, and what are the best ways to tackle and reduce poverty? Is it possible to pursue economic growth and still protect our natural and physical environments? How should governments try to raise the finance needed to pay for health and education services and income-support programmes? What is the proper role for government in the economy? Would we be better off with higher taxes but also better social services than we presently enjoy?

Any society has to address the problem of how and what to produce for its material survival, and how the goods and services that are produced should be distributed among its population. Economists explore how people and institutions behave and function when producing, exchanging and using goods and services. Economists’ main motivation is to find mechanisms that encourage efficiency in the production and use of material goods and resources, while at the same time producing a pattern of income distribution that society finds acceptable.

Economists aim to develop theories of human behaviour and test them against the facts. These theories are summarised in economic models that best explain the events we observe. An important part of the work of an economist is collecting and analysing data about economic phenomena - prices, employment, costs, etc. The art of the economist is to blend together theory, data and statistical techniques to arrive at a new understanding of economic problems or to make policy recommendations that hopefully will improve the welfare and living standards of our society.

Is this the right course for you?

Economics at Trinity College appeals to students with a wide range of interests. If you are interested in current economic affairs, both national and international, in understanding how government action might be used to pursue economic and social goals such as lowering unemployment, reducing poverty or assisting the Third World, you will find the Economics curriculum stimulating. If you enjoy abstract thinking and are considering engineering or physics, for example, you should also consider Economics as a degree option.

Course content

The Freshman years

Economics teaching in the Freshman (first two) years emphasises the understanding of the basic principles of economics and the acquisition of the quantitative skills in mathematics and statistics necessary for more in-depth study. In the Junior Freshman year, students have approximately 7 hours of lectures and 3 hours of tutorials per week in economics. In the Senior Freshman year students also study the main features, performance and associated policy issues of the Irish economy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Students have approximately 6 hours of lectures and 3 hours of tutorials per week in economics. Students will, of course, have a somewhat similar amount of lectures and tutorials in their other subject.

The Sophister years

The great strength of the Sophister (third and fourth year) programme in economics is its flexibility. There is a wide range of courses on offer and, within the framework of either a single or joint honors degree, you can put together a package that best reflects your interests and future career goals. Those interested in banking, finance or accountancy can choose a finance-orientated set of options; those interested in a career in politics, journalism or the public sector will find a range of courses that integrate analysis and policy; those intent on a business career or a position in industry can opt for a package emphasising courses in industrial economics and industrial organisation; while those wishing to pursue a research or academic career might wish to choose the more quantitative and analytical courses.

Within the Junior Sophister (third) year students have approximately 6 hours of lectures and 2 hours of tutorials per week in economics. Within the Senior Sophister (fourth) year, students have approximately 4 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorials per week in economics. Students will, of course, have a somewhat similar amount of lectures and tutorials in their other subject. Those students specialising exclusively in economics have approximately 8 hours of lectures and 2 hours of tutorials per week in the Senior Sophister year.


All courses in the first three years are assessed by a combination of continuous assessment (tests or essays) and the formal end-of-year examination. Fewer courses are required in the Senior Sophister year so as to facilitate time for more independent work. Project work is a very important component of almost all courses within the Senior Sophister year; this project work allows students to achieve a very high level of expertise in a number of specific areas and greatly facilitates students when setting out on their career paths. In addition, students specialising exclusively in economics in the Senior Sophister year may choose to complete a dissertation on a chosen topic.

Study abroad

Students have the opportunity to spend some time in their third year studying in partner institutions in Australia, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands for either an academic year or for half an academic year; the majority of outgoing students go abroad for half an academic year.

Career opportunities

About a third of graduates go on to further study either in Ireland or abroad. Over the years Trinity's economists have made distinguished careers all over the world in business, finance, journalism, law, politics, the public service, and in leading universities.

Did you know?

  • The courses and programmes offered by the Department reflect its excellent record of research and publication, particularly in international macroeconomics, applied economics, economic history, and the history of economic thought.

  • Trinity College Dublin is ranked in the world top 100 universities for Economics and Econometrics (by the QS World University Rankings 2014).

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1043


Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateOC3/HD3 Mathematics
GCSEGrade B Mathematics
Other EU examination systemsSee

Student Profile