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Economics at UCT: A Toolkit
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Economics at UCT: A Toolkit

A Collection of Tips, Tricks and Resources to Help you Get Your Degree

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Table of Contents

Introduction        1

Contributors        1

Coursework        2

Microeconomics        2

Econometrics        2

Other subjects        3

Studying Tips        3

Doing Research: Long Papers and Theses        5

Advice on writing and presenting        5

Finding the Right Supervisor        6

Literature Reviews        6

Support        7

Correct Referencing        7

Software        7

Stata        7

Cloud storage        9

Word        10

LaTeX        11

Reference Managers        13

R        13

GIS        15

Python        15

High Performance Computing        15

Data        15

DataFirst        15

Survey Data        15

NIDS        16

World Bank Data        17

StatsSA        17

EconData        17

People Skills and Building Relationships        17

Sending Emails to Staff        17

Get to know your classmates        18

Getting Involved in the Department        18

Tutoring        19

Essay Marking        19

Research Assistant Work        19

Lecturing Advice        20

Societies        20

General Help        20

Mental Health        20

Discrimination and Harassment        20

Funding        21

NRF        21

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship        21

After UCT: Careers & Further Study        21

Letters of Recommendation        21

Careers in Research        21

Careers in Development        22

Studying Abroad and Overseas Scholarships        22

Additional Resources and Further Reading        23

Printing and Binding        23

Load shedding        23

Recommended Email Newsletter Subscriptions        24

Twitter        24

YouTube Channels        26

Book Recommendations        26

Podcasts        29


This document is intended to help students completing graduate degrees in the economics department at the University of Cape Town, be it an honours, masters or PhD. This document is a collaborative exercise, with several graduate students and alumni contributing the useful tricks, tips and resources that they picked up during their time in the department. We believe that you shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Your program is stressful enough without you having to google “econometrics textbook for beginners” at 3AM. It is also a shame that so many of the tricks we develop over the course of our degrees are lost after we graduate. This is an attempt to preserve institutional knowledge (and is more detailed than Peter Klein's set of resources). Furthermore, it is intended as a vehicle to allow information to spread further and faster. So, please share. There are many links in this document, and it is easier to follow the links by using the web page: . For ease of storage, here is the Google Doc.


Nick Fitzhenry, Aidan Horn, Fatima Docrat, Tafadzwa Jani, Aneeqah Meyer & Emma Whitelaw.

If you have comments, are interested in contributing to this document, or have resources that you would like us to add, please send an email to Aidan Horn at . We want this document to continue to be improved, so we want younger economics students to join the editing team, and to contribute 🙂. You may also leave comments on UCT Economics Society's Facebook post.




Undergrad Metrics Cheat Sheet (US) (Tyler Ransom)

Seeing Theory (Brown University) is a beautiful, interactive, animated website on the fundamentals of statistics.

Ben Lambert's Youtube Channel. Excellent overview of metrics content, grad & undergrad.

Online resources for the Wooldridge textbook (free). Register, log in, and click Free Materials > Save to MyHome.

Causal Inference: The Mixtape (Scott Cunningham), a free ebook on causal research, is an accessible resource on the basics of econometrics. It has a nice subsection on causal diagrams, which is often left uncovered in economics courses.

Interpreting Regression Coefficients (log-log log-level etc) cheat sheet (also in Tyler Ransom’s cheat sheet)

Causal Graphs Seminar (Julian Schessler)

Data Science for Economists (Grant McDermott) All course material freely available: learn about R, Git(Hub), programming, databases, cloud computation Machine Learning, etc.

Causal Inference Animated Plots (Nick Huntington-Klein) animations of different estimation procedures (OLS, IV, RDD, DID). Great learning device.

Other subjects

Studying Tips[1]

I have been asked by some of you how to prep for the test. I think you might have realised I sometimes have an unusual testing style compared to other lecturers. My main focus is that you not only know the key material (there is an element of memorising here), but can also draw conclusions from it and can apply it practically—as opposed to just being able to answer questions from past papers.

My impression is that your current style of prep is giving you a false sense of security—you think you know the material, but you haven't engaged deeply enough. The learning process involves reading, listening, writing, and explaining (not necessarily in that order).  To learn the material, you are going to have to use it. Reading it is not enough. Everyone's learning process differs, but I would recommend any or all of the below:

In general, this is a process best done slowly and methodically, and then ramped up in the week before the test. I used to think my lecturers were supremely boring when they said we should work constantly, but annoyingly enough they were right. Cramming the material (including lecture recordings) into a few days is bad because firstly, you will forget it all instantly thereafter which is annoying for the exam and in general—you're here to learn key skills from this course, and cramming won't do that. Unlike undergrad, where the objective was often just to pass the test, you should really be wanting to grasp this material permanently. Secondly, there is a huge amount of material, and it is highly complex—you simply need time to go through it repeatedly and for the concepts to sink in.

Doing Research: Long Papers and Theses

Advice on writing and presenting

Writing papers

Making Slides/Giving Presentations

Finding the Right Supervisor

When choosing a supervisor, it is important to understand yourself, your interest areas and your work ethic, first. You should reach out to potential supervisors who have written papers that you find interesting or who focus on topics that you would like to learn more about. The more fascinating you find the research area of your dissertation, the more you will enjoy the process of writing it and that will reflect in your paper.

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential supervisors, you should think about how you like to work (Are you a planner or like to complete projects last-minute? Do you enjoy face-to-face meetings or are you happy to communicate over email?) and find some information about the supervision style of your potential supervisors. There are many researchers who produce incredible work but are very busy—this would not work for a student who likes a more hands on approach, but may work for others. The best way to find out about the supervision styles of researchers is to speak to students who have previously worked with them. The supervisor relationship is very similar to a mentorship relationship; your supervisor is there to guide you and push you to produce excellent work; therefore, it is important that you find a supervisor with whom you can have an honest, helpful and supportive academic relationship.

You should feel free to reach out to researchers via email and ask one of them to be your supervisor. The researcher is likely to ask to meet with you to discuss your interest areas and get a sense of whether you would work well together. Often students try to meet with many potential supervisors to learn more about them and choose the best possible academic match; however, researchers can find this distasteful and a waste of their time so this strategy should be pursued with caution. If you do this, be open with those you meet about the fact that you are meeting other researchers.

Not all supervisor searches are as smooth sailing as outlined above. There are times when the supervisor you would like to work with cannot work with you as they are too busy, or are going on sabbatical, etc. Generally, in those cases the researcher will direct you to other potential supervisors who they think can help you, so there is no need to worry.

Most importantly: the process of choosing your supervisor can seem like a daunting task, but you should not be concerned about ending up with no supervision. In the end, everyone finds a supervisor, and if you are proactive and participate fully in the process you will likely find a supervisor who will help you produce interesting, useful and sound academic work.

Literature Reviews

Finding Journal Articles

A lot of articles are available on Google Scholar. If the article is free to the public (e.g. research sponsored by the UN), then a normal Google search works better. If it's not on Google Scholar, try going to the actual journal website, finding the year, version, and title. Finally, there are also other platforms other than Google Scholar such as EBSCO Host, found on the library website, that let you search journal articles, and they come up with different results. You can browse database platforms by going to, hovering over "Search & Find" on the top left, and clicking "Databases A-Z".

Using UCT's institutional licenses off-campus

There are a few ways to use UCT's institutional licenses to access journal articles, when you are off campus. The simplest and easiest way is to use the UCT Virtual Private Network (VPN). To do this, install the Cisco AnyConnect client on your computer as per the instructions at The VPN server name is and you log in with your UCT username and password. This will make your computer connect to the internet via UCT's IP address, and makes it a breeze to download journal articles. Make sure to disconnect from the VPN when you are done, as there is a limit to how many connections ICTS wants to host. You can use the VPN on your tablet to read newspapers on the Pressreader app, for free.

You can also access Stata remotely. See 

Another method, which is not as easy to use, is to change the URL of the journal website. Go to the address bar and type in after the .com and before the first forward slash (/). When the browser gives you a security warning, click on "Advanced" and then proceed. That lets you log in to UCT via the web browser, to get journal articles for free. Alternatively, go to, log in, choose Google Scholar (or the library website), search for the article and click on the PDF link to the right of the search result. Also try the EBSCOhost platform to access PDFs of journal articles. Lastly (and this also works for people outside UCT), one can Google "Sci-Hub" to access pirated journal articles.


Correct Referencing



Online Help

Every copy of Stata comes with Stata’s complete PDF documentation. The PDF documentation may be accessed from within Stata by selecting Help > PDF documentation, or by typing help -command-. The full PDF documentation is also available online, e.g., the User Guide and the Reference manuals are usually a good place to start for general commands. To access the help files for specific commands, do a Google search for the command + "Stata", or form the url as appended with the command name, like regress: .

This subsection (on finding online help) was mostly copied from .

General Tips

Making your Stata graphs pretty

Instead of using the default baby-blue-background Stata graphs, use Daniel Bischof's very attractive graph presets. Here is how to install them. In the stata command module, run:

ssc install g538schemes, replace all

ssc install blindschemes, replace all

ssc install brewscheme

ssc install full_palette

ssc install grstyle

Then go Edit > Preferences > Graph Preferences to change the default graph scheme. From the same panel, you can also change the font.

Stata Project Organisation

Cloud storage

It is advised to use to type up your work, especially when on a UCT computer, as then your work will not be lost if the computer unexpectedly shuts down or crashes. Alternatively, you should regularly save offline files as you go, and sync your computer with a cloud storage service. The best way to back up all your files on your own computer is by syncing them with a cloud storage service. We summarize the main providers below.

You can install Google Drive Backup and Sync on Windows or Mac. Google Drive gives you 15GB for free; 100GB is R290 per year; and 200GB is R390 per year. The advantage of Google Drive is that most people have a Google Drive account, so it is easy to collaborate with others on a document, for a project, or to share files.

You can create a shared Google Drive folder for your class. However, if the link to the folder enables editing, many people can access the folder, and the experience in the 2018 Honours class was that sometimes people accidentally delete items (from lack of experience with using the app). When this happens, you can access the missing items by viewing the "Activity" on the right hand side, in the info about the shared folder. You can click on the missing items there, and then add them back to the shared folder.

To avoid this problem, it is best to use a Shared Drive. You can create a shared drive by signing in to Google Drive using your UCT credentials, as UCT has subscribed all students to 'G Suite'. At the log-in screen, type your UCT email address in, and you will be redirected to UCT's log in screen. Once logged in, view your shared drives by clicking on the "Shared drives" icon on the left hand side. The benefit of a shared drive is that you can prevent collaborators from deleting documents; but they will still be able to add and edit files and folders. Furthermore, there is no risk of the documents being permanently deleted by the original owner, as UCT will become the owner.

In comparison, Dropbox allows one to roll back one's storage to a previous date (an important feature to guard against ransomware), which Google Drive does not offer. Transferring the ownership of many files is much easier on Dropbox compared to Google Drive, and Dropbox offers support for Linux, which Google Drive does not offer. However, Dropbox is much more expensive than Google Drive.

iCloud is designed for Apple devices (5GB free; 50GB for R15 per month) but can also sync on Windows computers. There's also OneDrive.

Backing up all your files for the first time

When you back-up all your files to the cloud for the first time, it will use a lot of data. It is likely that your internet connection has free night-time data usage—in that case, rather only start the syncing process at midnight, as then you won't run out of data for the rest of the month. This can be arranged with the Task Scheduler app that already exists on your operating system, and by preventing the computer from sleeping for that period. InSync syncs more quickly than Backup and Sync, although a one-time purchase is required for it.

Hard drive organization

When using a new hard drive in future, it is not necessary to download all your files—only sync files as you need them, as that way your data usage will be much lower. You will free up a lot of space on your hard drive if your files mainly reside in the cloud. Take time to organize your cloud storage, as this effort will last a lifetime.

Lastly, note that the folder you sync with a cloud is typically in the "C:\Users\username" folder. For example, "C:\Users\username\Dropbox", or "C:\Users\username\Google Drive". This means that "C:\Users\username\Documents" (the Windows default) is not an important folder in this day and age, and you should avoid putting files there. We also suggest that you avoid bothering about syncing "C:\Users\username\Documents" with the cloud, as if you end up using several different computers, each computer's Documents folder will be separated out in the cloud. For example, on Google Drive, the different computers will be in the "Computers" tab in the Web app, and one needs to move the files from there to "My Drive" in future. You will have a more unified cloud storage if all your files are in one place in the cloud. For example, with Google Drive, you should rather move your offline files to the "My Drive" location, which syncs with your computer at "C:\Users\username\Google Drive".



LaTeX (pronounced lay-teck) is a word processor, like Microsoft Word. Documents are written up in lines of code in a program called a 'LaTeX compiler', which produces a PDF as output. Some academics like it because its typesetting is very customisable (and the output is very neat), and some like it because it's easy to write mathematical formulae using it. You will probably recognise the default LaTeX format from tutorial questions and exam scripts. That font is called Computer Modern. You can download it for Word here.

To give you an idea of how it works, here is a screenshot that shows the LaTeX code on the left, and the PDF output on the right:

It is common for people to learn LaTeX on-the-go, learning new commands as they are needed. For this, a Google search is best (including the search term "latex"). This will lead you to , which is the best website to ask questions on if you are stuck. Overleaf's documentation is a nice resource on basic LaTeX how-tos. If you want to learn LaTeX properly, it is a good idea to start reading Guide to LaTeX, by Kopka and Daly (available at the main library at 686.22544 KOPK) because this way you will learn the best or most efficient methods (as opposed to copy-pasting a variety of code and tweaking it to get the results you want). Here is a playlist of 12 useful YouTube videos on LaTeX, in manageable chunks. It is incredibly easy to typeset beautiful mathematics using LaTeX, but only once you know how to type the code.

Why you maybe shouldn’t use LaTeX

If you do want to use LaTeX

An Overleaf account is easy to set up because there is no download. The disadvantage of Overleaf is that compiling the code is very slow (every time you make an edit, you might want to see what that result will look like in the PDF, which takes long to load on the website). On the other hand, the computer program TeXworks will compile the code much faster, resulting in a smoother workflow. You can install TeXworks using the MiKTeX package.


\documentclass{beamer} is the PowerPoint of LaTeX, useful for when you have equations in your presentation. Its default slides look like this. Since LaTeX produces output as PDF, you will need to present your slideshow in Adobe Reader; enter full-screen mode by pressing Ctrl + L. If you want to save time, rather use Powerpoint or Google Slides. Here is Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham's tips and tricks with Beamer for economists (source code).

Reference Managers

Use Mendeley, Zotero or RefWorks to store the journal articles you download. These are all free, and will do a number of essential things.

JabRef is a program which collects together references, creating a BibTeX file that can be used for your TeX documents. This streamlines the referencing procedure when typing in LaTeX, as each citation will simply use a label (e.g. \cite{hamari2010game}), and the bibliography will compile at the end based on the citations used.


R is a language that you can use to do data analysis, like Stata. It is recommended because it is open source, hence, it is free, whereas Stata will set you back several thousand rand. R is growing in popularity and will be one of the main data analysis computer languages in the future.

install.packages("swirl")        # to install the package onto your computer.

library("swirl")                # to load the package into the current session

swirl()                # to start the lessons



High Performance Computing

UCT has a High Performance Computer (HPC), with hundreds of gigabytes of RAM available for use, and hundreds of cores on the server (used for parallel processing, and sharing computing power between users). You can apply for an account if you are at least a postgraduate researcher, with approval from your supervisor. The server lets you run programs for many hours (or even days), without hassles arising from loadshedding, RAM capacity, or keeping your own computer on. It is a free alternative to you paying for cloud computing time. Andrew Lewis (the system administrator) can give you an introduction to using a shared Linux server before you start.

You would connect to with PuTTY, on the UCT LAN. The server uses Linux, so it is recommended that you use Unix commands to navigate the CLI. In terms of the system infrastructure, a head node controls multiple worker nodes. Programs should not be run on the head node, but rather submitted through SLURM (sbatch command) to be placed on a worker node. The server has many interpreter packages installed, including Python, R, Stata15, and Stata17 SE/MP. The Stata MP size can use up to two cores, and the DPRU licensed it. Aidan recommends that you edit your code mostly on your own computer, as that is easier than nano, then send your code (via pscp) to the server.



DataFirst provides research data, and has offices in the School of Economics building (suite 3.48). The DataFirst website hosts numerous useful datasets that you can use for free, including NIDS, PALMS, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, and 10% samples from the South African Census. Go to the Open Data Portal at . These data will prove very useful in your quantitative research. If you find a problem with data they provided, you can ask them about it at .

Survey Data

Richard Williams has produced some of the clearest notes on what you need to know when doing survey data analysis in Stata, as well as just interpreting regression results. Check out his homepage, his Stats 3 course notes and his Stata highlights. His notes on weighting and setting up panel data are excellent references.

Deaton's The Analysis of Household Surveys is relevant to anyone with an interest in using household survey data to shed light on policy issues.

Weighting Survey Data

When using survey data, you need to weight all of your estimates, including calculations of means. This is because the sampled households are not simply pulled randomly out of a hat. Households are selected to ensure that the sample is demographically representative of the population (this is called stratification). The sampled households are all from several, randomly selected neighbourhoods, so that the survey team doesn’t have to travel to lots of neighbourhoods across the country. Unfortunately, people tend to drop out of panel surveys (this is called attrition). If these features are not corrected for, your estimates will be biased. Weighting corrects this. Also, standard errors should be clustered (at the household level) in order to produce estimates that represent the population. Use the svy command to preset weights for stratification, sampling and cluster weights before running a regression. A rule of thumb: use pweight everywhere, unless you can’t. Then use aweight.


The National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) is a comprehensive household survey conducted by the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), which is situated on Level 3 in the School of Economics building. Since 2008, NIDS has collected five waves of data on income and labour force participation, as well as other socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of households and individuals.

It is important to note that DataFirst provides nine .dta files for every wave—not merged! The following screenshot shows this:

It is up to you to merge the datasets together into a cross-section or panel so that you have all the variables available to run regressions on. However, don't waste time writing the code for merging datasets yourself—use the .do files provided on the NIDS website: . The derived variables (in the indderived and hhderived datasets) are created using the .do files on the NIDS Derived Files web page. The "Deflators" .do files guide you on how to deflate nominal variables (to turn them into real variables).

If you go to a NIDS dataset on the Datafirst website, then click on Data Description, it will be easy to search for and look at the variables inside the dataset. This saves you from using Stata to determine which variables exist and what their names are.

NIDS has problematic attrition leading up to wave four, but the fifth wave introduced a top-up sample, which addresses that attrition problem.

The results for Wave 3 ... are not fully representative of the population. This is because Wave 3 was not a random sample of the population as it stood in 2012: Wave 3 is a sample of households who were sampled four years earlier in Wave 1. There is, therefore, a systematic pattern to the sample of households in Wave 3. In addition, there has been non-negligible attrition (compensated, on the other hand, by replacement) to the original Wave 1 sample. This introduces complications in terms of the econometric analysis.

(Chelwa, van Walbeek & Nyokangi, 2014: 215)


Chelwa, G., van Walbeek, C. & Nyokangi, E. 2014. The demand for alcohol in South Africa. In The economics of alcohol use, misuse and policy in South Africa. C.P. van Walbeek & E.H. Blecher (eds.). Chapter 8.

World Bank Data is the easiest place to find macroeconomic data, covering nearly all countries in the world.


Statistics South Africa provides official government data on inflation, economic growth, labour market indicators and more.

EconData is a free repository of South African macroeconomic data enabling automation of analytical workflows that depend on public domain data. The EconData blog, called Randomsample, provides tutorials for using EconData and automating models and charts using the platform.

People Skills and Building Relationships

Sending Emails to Staff

Students: How to email to your professor, employer, and professional peers (Chris Blattman)

Learn the titles of your lecturers. You can find out their title on the UCT Economics Department website staff page. If someone has a PhD, begin your email with ‘Dear Dr <surname>’. If they are a professor, begin with ‘Dear Prof <surname>’. This applies to assistant, adjunct, attending and emeritus professors. The tendency for students to ignore these norms frustrates many academics, especially in light of the fact that female and black academics experience this more often. Of course, if the academic says you may call them by their first name, go for it.

Your UCT email box is at .  

You can view your spam email by navigating to        

> Sign In / ACCESS MY EMAIL > Enter your UCT email address > Mimecast Personal Portal.

Get to know your classmates

They are your best resource, in so many ways, for surviving and flourishing in your degree. Your year will be richer for knowing more than your clique. In later life, whether you are looking for a job opportunity, an opinion from an industry expert, or someone to catch up with during your globe trotting, the people in your class will be a valuable addition to your network.

Getting Involved in the Department

Part of graduate school is about transitioning from being a student into a junior colleague within the department.


Tutoring within the Economics department is a great way to get involved. It allows you to reaffirm your foundations in economics, which can make a big difference in your studies. It also helps you to learn and develop new skills. Being able to communicate effectively, clearly, and confidently in front of groups of people is a transferable skill that will benefit you in every aspect of you life and in any potential career path. Lastly, it is an incredible community of like-minded people with similar interests who are able to challenge your thinking.

Applications usually open the semester prior to the one in which you want to tutor. Look out for announcements from the administrative team or the tutor coordinator on how to apply. The interview process is relaxed and gives you an insight into what tutoring is really about. If you aspire to lecture one day, tutoring is the best place to get teaching experience.

A caveat: tutoring is very time consuming, and is only recommended if you are confident that you can manage your time. This is particularly important in the first semester.

Essay Marking

Signing up to mark essays for the department is another great way to get involved, help and inspire younger students as well as improve your own writing for your dissertation. Critically engaging with the writing process has fantastic benefits for your writing confidence and engaging with students about their work is a rewarding experience.

Look out for announcements from the writing coordinator at the start of each semester to see about the application process for that year. Alternatively, you can email the writing coordinator at to find out about marking opportunities.

Both essay marking and tutoring also offer room for growth and promotion. After tutoring for a while you can apply to be head tutor and later, the tutor coordinator. As an essay marker you can apply to take workshops and gain valuable lecturing and presentation experience and later, you can apply to be the writing coordinator. Leadership positions such as these provide invaluable career experience both inside and outside academia. Essay marking and tutoring allow you to build relationships with academics, which may prove important when looking for a supervisor.

Research Assistant Work

Researchers in the department often need students to help carry out more routine tasks, such as literature searches, data collection, field work, data cleaning, or data analysis. Other than the routine work, researchers often are keen to develop your skills, so will share their knowledge with you and encourage you to learn more about the topic they are researching, offering opportunities for you to take responsibility where you show competence. All this is done for a princely rate of pay, according to the UCT pay schedule for post-grad students, and this offers a stable source of income if you have the time.

You can find research assistant (RA) work by approaching researchers yourself (recommended), or by waiting for announcements from Paula Bassingthwaighte's mailing list for post-grad students. Research assistant work is available in all faculties to all years of students—you just have to ask.

Lecturing Advice


UCT Economics Society

The UCT Economics Society hosts talks about economics and advertises other economics talks happening on campus. To stay informed about the society's events, join the Vula site, subscribe to the electronic calendar, join the WhatsApp announcement group, subscribe to the Telegram channel, like the Facebook page or follow the Twitter profile.

Rethinking Economics for Africa

The Rethinking Economics for Africa UCT society is a student-led organisation at UCT focused on decolonisation, curriculum reform, pluralism and the democratisation of economics. Like their Facebook page or follow their Twitter profile.

General Help

Mental Health

The UCT Student Careline: 0800 24 25 26. You can also SMS 31393 for a call-me-back.

The Commerce Department has free short-term counselling services to all students registered in the Faculty of Commerce. Commerce Student Development & Support (CSDS) offers support for both academic and psycho-social issues. It offers you the opportunity to book an appointment online, which can be a big help if you are too uncomfortable to phone or e-mail someone about it.

Discrimination and Harassment


UCT’s postgraduate funding notice board is a great place to begin your search for funding opportunities. UCT also offers merit and needs-based awards.


Funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF) can generally be done via the university. Alternatively, you may need to apply directly through the NRF. Find more information here.

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship not only funds your studies, but incorporates a fantastic leadership and development program. The Foundation cares deeply about your personal development and growth and provides a wonderful community of support and inspiration not only for the duration of your (postgrad) degree, but for life. If you’re passionate about leadership, education, social entrepreneurship and reconciliation on the African continent and you feel excited about the prospect of engaging with like-minded scholars from across the continent, then this scholarship is for you!

Bear in mind that you will need to think about applying almost a year before you begin your studies. Applications usually open around March. 

After UCT: Careers & Further Study

Letters of Recommendation

Careers in Research

Careers in Development

ODI development fellowship.

Studying Abroad and Overseas Scholarships

The GRE Exam

Many overseas programmes require South African students to have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). While this exam is generally a poor guide to your success or failure in post-graduate studies, it is viewed by many institutions as a screening device for applications. You should be taking this exam early as it can be repeated as many times as you’d like and only your highest scores are submitted. That said, be advised that the exam is expensive and sending your scores to multiple institutions can result in you being charged a fee.

United States



Additional Resources and Further Reading

Printing and Binding

Load shedding

Note that Cape Town's stage is usually one stage lower than Eskom's stage. Listed below are some electronic calendars (on repeat every month) for load shedding at UCT. (See ) I separated out the stages, so that the higher stages don't clutter up your calendar app.

If you're not using an iPhone, you need to copy the link, go to your calendar app on a computer and add a new calendar by URL. Then paste the link there. When load shedding isn't around, you can hide the calendars to have less clutter on your calendar app.

Recommended Email Newsletter Subscriptions


Top economists around the world use Twitter to share key ideas, research, resources, career advice and thoughts on the profession. They loosely congregate under the hashtag #EconTwitter (and many of the links in this document were discovered through that hashtag). Read Matt Clancy's guide if you're a first-timer.

Some South Africans to follow:

A number of academic economists are very active on twitter (mostly US). Here are some interesting people to follow:

Following these academics is a great way to discover more of #EconTwitter—here are @itsafronomics' recommendations.

Check out the top 25% economists by Twitter followers, also, Chris Blattman's favourite Twitterati. Jennifer Doleac's recommended Twitter threads include literature reviews on gender bias, education and violence, and advice for current and aspiring academic economists.

If you prompt ChatGPT with "Recommend 30 Twitter accounts to follow for academic economists, based in South Africa,"  you may get something like the following.

Here are 30 Twitter accounts that you can follow for academic economists based in South Africa:

  1. @econ101SA - Economics 101 South Africa
  2. @UJ_Economics - University of Johannesburg Department of Economics
  3. @econrsa - Economic Research Southern Africa
  4. @SEEC_UCT - School of Economics, University of Cape Town
  5. @ERSA_RSA - Economic Research Southern Africa
  6. @SARChI_Econ - South African Research Chairs Initiative in Economic Development
  7. @SALDRU_UCT - Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town
  8. @ProfJNMoyo - Jonathan Moyo, Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs
  9. @IMFNews - International Monetary Fund
  10. @WB_Africa - World Bank Africa
  11. @BrookingsInst - Brookings Institution
  12. @CGDev - Center for Global Development
  13. @UNCTAD - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  14. @PIIE - Peterson Institute for International Economics
  15. @WorldBank - World Bank
  16. @IFC_org - International Finance Corporation
  17. @AfricanBizMag - African Business Magazine
  18. @FT - Financial Times
  19. @TheEconomist - The Economist
  20. @cnbcafrica - CNBC Africa
  21. @AfricaResearch - Africa Research Institute
  22. @AfricaCheck - Africa Check
  23. @africatechie - Africa Tech News
  24. @LSEAfricaSummit - LSE Africa Summit
  25. @AfricaIntellig - Africa Intelligence
  26. @InvestInAfrica - Invest in Africa
  27. @AfricanBrains - African Brains
  28. @AfricaScience - Africa Science News
  29. @CNNAfrica - CNN Africa
  30. @BBCAfrica - BBC Africa

These accounts cover a broad range of topics related to economics and Africa, from academic research to news and analysis.

YouTube Channels

Book Recommendations

Here are few (short and accessible) books that complement your studies.

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If you want to write a book review here, please contact the editors of this document, as mentioned in the Contributors subsection. 🙂


Don’t read Nudge, read this instead. Nobel medal winner Richard Thaler discusses the development of the field of behavioural economics. In particular he highlights the need for theory to move away from rational agent behaviour and to examine the way actual humans make decisions.

If this name is not familiar to you, it should be. Kahneman and Tversky provided a lot of the psychological research that underpins our our current understanding of human behaviour in an economic context. Most notably is the development of Prospect Theory, and loss-aversion which radically altered the way in which behavioural economists assess people’s decisions about risk.

Probably the most important book I read in the last decade. It makes the case that human decisions are limited by a set amount of “bandwidth” that we have available to dedicate to them. The more taxed our bandwidth, the worse our decision making becomes. This explains why many humans exhibit behaviour consistent with satisficers, rather than optimisers. It goes further to argue that poverty acts as a double tax on bandwidth - it means you have less to begin with, and have more concerns to tax your available bandwidth. Thus, interventions need to account for this fact.


Despite Tristan becoming far less charitable towards Ha-Joon Chang and the field of heterodox economics than he once was, this book is a good introduction to some of the different overarching schools of economics that exist and makes a compelling argument that we ought to treat economic theory as a cocktail menu that allows us to mix and match insights from the different schools when they make sense.


The other book written by these two. It focuses on some of the more interesting econometric techniques such as IVs, and diff-in-diff techniques. This may help if you are struggling in the econometrics course and need a more applied example of how the theory you are being taught works.

Development Economics

About as “seminal” as a work gets. This book outlines the work that won Sen the Nobel Medal as it argues that we should not understand development in terms of such limited measures like GDP per capita, or HDI. Instead, we should see development as the process by which we expand the number of freedoms that people have available to them. What makes this especially interesting is that he advocates that expanding freedoms is both the ends and the means of development.

An extremely compelling look at why the current model of development aid fails to achieve the outcomes it should.

A recent (but dense) compilation of chapters that take a variety of angles on the topic, from the politics of bargaining council agreements in the clothing sector by Nattrass and Seekings, to employment multipliers by sector by Tregenna, to an overview of public employment programmes by Philip.



[1] Katherine Eyal sent the Honours econometrics students this advice in 2018