UCL Department of Economics


About the Department

REF 2014 ranked the Department of Economics at UCL the top Department in the UK in the field of Economics and Econometrics as well as the top Department in any field in any university in the UK.

The Department of Economics has an outstanding international reputation in key areas of current research. It is the only department of economics in the UK to have received the outstanding grade-point average of 3.78 (out of 4) in the 2014 REF with 79% of all indicators of output rated at the highest 4* level.

Before the foundation of UCL in 1826, the benefits of a university education in England were available only to men and only to those who were members of the Church of England. UCL, the first university established in England after Oxford and Cambridge, was founded to provide academic opportunities to non-Anglicans and placed no restrictions on race, class or religion of its students. In 1878, it also became the first British university to admit women on equal terms to men. Its academic programme was also innovative in its recognition of new disciplines, including many of the social sciences.

The Chair of Political Economy at UCL was created in 1828 with the help of funds raised in memory of David Ricardo, establishing one of the first departments of economics in England. Here you can read the letter from Jean-Baptiste Say to Jeremy Bentham regarding the establishment of the Department of Economics. 

Ricardo plaque on Drayton House

Famous Economists

London has been associated with many pioneers in economics and statistics. Many of whom have associations with University College, either as students or teachers there. Have a look at our time-line and find out more about these fascinating individuals

Earth Leaf


Find out more about what the Department of Economics is doing to help create a Sustainable UCL.

Sophie Bryant

Women, Economics and UCL in the late 19th Century

The first coeducational class, not only in UCL but in any British university, was held by John Elliot Cairnes, Professor of Political Economy, in October 1871.   Discover more about the history of women and economics at UCL.

Sophie Bryant (1850-1922), born in Dublin, was teaching mathematics at North London Collegiate School when she enrolled at UCL to study mental and moral sciences and mathematics. Progressing to doctoral studies she became the first woman to achieve a DSc in England in 1884. She was promoted to headmistress, served on county council boards and commissions on education and became the first woman to be elected to the senate of the University of London.

Economics walk

UCL Economics Walking Tour

This walking tour, lead by Dr Ramin Nassehi, will take you onto an intellectual journey from 1828, when the UCL was established, until today. Walking in the streets of Bloomsbury, we visit places associated with Jeremy Bentham, David Ricardo, Vladimir Lenin, John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and other profound thinkers. We will explore how these thinkers shaped the history of the 19th and the 20th century and will discuss the relevance of their ideas to today’s world.

No knowledge of economics is needed for the tour; you just have to be interested in politics, economics or intellectual history. The tour is for free and will take about 90 minutes. Details of the next tour coming soon.


The Department of Economics at UCL is located at 30 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AX, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)203 549 5375
Fax: +44 (0)207 679 5489

UCL's Public Transport Guide