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Our History

Our History 1965-Present

a group of Economics students outside of the Department

The Department of Economics was founded in 1965 at the same time as the University of Warwick came into being. The idea came from Professor Dick Sargent whose ambition was to create a stand-alone department of economics with an emphasis on the need for quantitative methods training, which has become a signature of Warwick's economics, and an essential tool for the economics discipline.

Professor Dick Sargent's vision became a reality and from a small department of 73 students in 1965 the Department of Economics at Warwick has become one of the largest and most successful departments of economics in the UK, with over 2000 students and a strong reputation for outstanding teaching and internationally renowned economic research.

From 73 in 1965 to over 2000 students in 2023

Consistently ranked highly in league tables for teaching and research

All time graduates

"I was becoming increasingly aware that to make progress in economics, one had to have a grasp of analytical techniques which were developing, and that led to the direction of more mathematics."

Professor Dick Sargent - Founder of Economics at Warwick, Head of Department 1965-1970, who passed away in 2022.

Read about Professor Sargent in the article: In Memory of Professor Dick Sargent, published on 22 March 2022 and his recollections, including video interviews and research papers recorded in 2012 in the article: Founding of the Department,

Photo of Professor Dick Sargent

Department of Economics from 1965 to the Present

Early years

  • The first students arrived in October 1965. There were 73 undergraduates registered for degrees in Economics, Economics and Politics or Economics and Sociology, and 3 postgraduate students. There were 9 teaching staff in the Department.

  • In 1967 Professor Sargent was appointed Economic Adviser to the Ministry of Technology and a member of the Economics Committee of the Social Research Council.

  • First important research grants were awarded to Warwick Economics academics, including Professor Pyatt's grant of £9,000 from the Nuffield Foundation to catalogue statistical material donated by the British Museum and Professor Cowling's grant of £22,454 from the Board of Trade to study the economic effects of advertising

  • By the end of the decade, the student and staff numbers doubled reaching 169 UG and 24 PG students, and 18 staff.


  • In 1971 the Department was one of the largest departments in the University with 225 students and around 14 teaching staff. A year later, the Department hosted the annual conference of the Association of University Teachers of Economics which was attended by 370 delegates.

  • In 1973 Professor Sargent left the Department to become Economics Advisor to the Midland Bank and he was succeeded by Professor Pyatt.

  • Several important research grants were awarded to the Department’s academics, including Prof Pyatt, Dr Moreland, Dr Roe, Prof Dixit and Prof Cowling.


  • The Development Economics Research Centre was founded and led by Prof Pyatt with grants received from the ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, the Overseas Development Foundation and the World Bank.

  • Before 1989 students were able to choose whether to be awarded a BA or BSc degree, and after that year, all students were awarded a BSc.


  • Student numbers continued to grow and by the end of the 1990s there were 350 students taking single honours degrees and 54 on joint honours.

  • Prof Ken Wallis took part in the selection process of the best papers for the World Congress of Econometrics Society in Tokyo in 1995.


  • In 2009 an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) bid of £3.6 million was awarded and CAGE (Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy) was set up.


  • In 2012 Prof Mark Harrison was awarded the Russian National Prize for Applied Economics in recognition of his research that looked at the last remaining gap in the national income records of the 20th century Russia.

  • Warwick Economics ranked 4th in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, affirming high calibre of research in the Department with 2nd for percentage of research classified as 4* and 3*, and 96% of research deemed world leading and internationally excellent.

  • In 2015 the Department celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting a number of events throughout the year and participated in the Festival of Social Sciences.

  • In 2016 Professor Oliver Hart, Warwick Economics alumnus, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

  • In April 2019 the Department hosted the Royal Economics Society Annual Conference bringing together over 700 academic and professional economists from across the globe to present current research developments in economics.

  • In June 2019 CAGE Research Centre welcomed international researchers and policy specialists to Warwick to celebrate 10 years of CAGE research funded by the ESRC.

  • In October 2019 a new research centre was established – Quantitative and Analytical Political Economy Research Centre (QAPEC) to coordinate collaborative research with its UK and international partners.

2020 to present day

  • Economics at Warwick was ranked 1st in the Good University Guide 2020 and the Good University Guide 2023.

  • Student numbers reached 2000 in 2022 with 150 staff members, making us one of the largest Economics departments in the UK.

  • Professor Andrew Oswald received a prestigious honour of being selected as a Citation Laureate 2022.

  • Over the years, Warwick Economics has continued to grow in reputation as one of the top Departments for quality of research, currently ranked 2nd in the UK (REF2021).

  • In 2025 the Department of Economics will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding. We are planning a range of celebrations for staff, students and our alumni, to mark this special occasion.

Alumni reflections

Since 1965 we have had 14,933 students graduating from undergraduate and postgraduate courses in economics. We are always delighted to see our alumni back on campus and to hear their stories. Meet some of our alumni who visited the Department in recent years.

Heads of Departments: 1965-present

Dick Sargent (1965-1970)

Professor Dick Sargent founded the Department of Economics in 1965.

Read his recollections of the founding of the Department, including video interviews and research papers.

Sadly, Professor Dick Sargent passed away in March 2022 - please read the article about him In Memory of Professor Dick Sargent - Founder of the Department of Economics.

Graham Pyatt (1970-1971)

Professor Graham Pyatt took over from Professor Sargent as chair of the Department of Economics in 1970. In 1971 the Department was one of the largest undergraduate teaching departments in the University: 161 students were reading for single honours degrees and 64 were on joint honours courses.

Professor Pyatt received research grants from multiple organisations including the Ministry of Overseas Development, the Imperial Tobacco Group and the International Labour Office. In 1980 he became Director of the Department's newly-created Development Economics Research Centre, which received grants from the ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, the Overseas Development Foundation and the World Bank.

Sadly, Professor Graham Pyatt passed away in February 2023. His former colleagues and members of the Department, Jeff Round and Alan Roe have written a tribute to him Tribute to Professor Graham Pyatt.

Alec Ford (1971-1975)

Professor Alec Ford was a founding member of the Department and played a key role in taking Warwick to the forefront of economics practice from its earliest days. He worked in the Department for 25 years, as Reader and then Professor, and was known for his seminal research in international economic history.

In the 1974/5 academic year a new economic history degree course was introduced in the Department.

Sadly, Professor Ford died in 2015. Please see the page In memory of Professor Alec Ford.

Keith Cowling (1975-1978)

Keith Cowling joined the University of Warwick in 1966, where he switched his research focus to the developing field of industrial economics. He was appointed to the Clarkson chair in industrial economics in 1970, and served as Head of Department from 1975 to 1978.

Having developed a reputation as one of Europe's leading industrial economists, he went on to become president of the European Association for Research in Industrial Economics (1987-89) and co-founded the European Union Network for Industrial Policy in the mid-90s.

Sadly, Professor Cowling died in 2016. Read his obituary in The Guardian.

Avinash Dixit (1978-1980)

Avinash Dixit is an economic theorist and distinguished member of the economics profession. He joined the Department as Professor of Economics in 1974, becoming Head of Department in 1978. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Economics at Princeton University.

The University of Warwick awarded an honorary doctorate to Professor Dixit in 2007. Read Professor Mark Harrison's presentation from the ceremony.

John Cable (1980-1983)

John Cable was Head of the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick from 1980-1983.

Alan Roe (1983-1986)

Alan Roe taught economics at the University of Warwick for over 20 years, joining the Department in 1972 and serving as Head from 1983-1986.

In 1994 he was appointed to the role of Principal Economist at the World Bank where he worked for seven years to design and implement large reform projects in the economies of the Former Soviet Union.

Ken Wallis (1986-1991)

Ken Wallis served as Head of Department for five years from 1986. He was also Director of the ESRC Macroeconomic Modelling Bureau, based in the Department, from 1983-99.

He has held positions at the Royal Statistical Society, the British Academy, the Royal Economic Society and the Econometric Society among others. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Econometrics at the University of Warwick. A conference to celebrate his career was held at the University in July 2013.

View Professor Wallis's staff profile.

Nick Crafts (1991-1994)

Nick Crafts first joined the Department as a lecturer in economics in 1972, also holding roles at Berkeley, Oxford, Stanford, Leeds and LSE throughout his career. He returned to Warwick as Professor of Economic History from 1988-95 and again from 2006-2019.

Sadly, Nick Crafts passed away on 6 October 2023. He was Director of the ESRC CAGE Research Centre and held the position of Emeritus Professor at Warwick and a part-time Professor of Economic History at the University of Sussex. He was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014.

View Professor Crafts' staff profile and details of his recent keynote lectures and publications.

View our webpage In Memory of Professor Nick Crafts.

Norman Ireland (1994-1999)

Norman Ireland has been part of the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick for over 30 years, first joining as a lecturer in 1970. His research interests centre on economic theory. He is currently an Emeritus Professor in the Department.

View Professor Ireland's staff profile.

Mike Waterson (1999-2002)

Mike Waterson graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of Warwick in 1971 and was awarded a PhD from the University in 1977. He has been Professor of Economics at the University since 1991 (currently Emeritus).

His research has focused on theoretical and empirical industrial economics, with particular interests including consumer behaviour, energy economics, supermarket pricing and transport policy.

View Professor Waterson's staff profile.

Michael Devereux (2002-2005)

Michael Devereux was Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Warwick from 1998-2006. He is currently Director of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.

Mark Harrison (2005-2008)

Mark Harrison first joined the Department as lecturer in 1974, becoming Professor of Economics in 1998. He has been Emeritus Professor in the Department since 2019 and is also a Research Associate at CAGE Research Centre and the Centre for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham.

His research focuses on Russian and international economic history and he writes regular blog posts on his website.

View Professor Harrison's staff profile.

Abhinay Muthoo (2008-2016)

Abhinay Muthoo was Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick between 2008 and 2022. He stepped down from the role of Head of Department in 2016 to take up the position of Dean of Warwick in London. His research interests include negotiations, game theory and public policy.

During Professor Muthoo's time as Head of Department, CAGE Research Centre was established, the first ever Warwick Economics Summer School was held and the Department affirmed its reputation for research quality in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Jeremy Smith (2016-2022)

Jeremy Smith held the role of Head of Department for six years, stepping down in July 2022.

During this time, Warwick hosted the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference in 2019, the Department's Athena Swan Charter Application was successful in 2021, and the Department was ranked 2nd in the UK for research quality (Times Higher Education analysis of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 results).

After stepping down as Head of Department, Professor Smith will be Director of Undergraduate Studies for 2022/23 and continue his research on higher education outcomes.

View Professor Smith's staff profile.

Read his reflections on his time as Head of Department.

Ben Lockwood (2022-)

Ben Lockwood is Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick, a Research Fellow at at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and a Director of Research at the Centre for Business Taxation, University of Oxford. His research focuses on public economics and political economy.

Professor Lockwood took on the role of Head of Department in August 2022.

View his staff profile.

"I have been immensely proud of having been Head of Department for 6 years. To represent this great Department both within the University and more broadly is something I never imagined myself doing."

Professor Jeremy Smith - Head of Department 2016-2022.

Read the full article Professor Jeremy Smith reflects on his time as Head of Department of Economics, published on 29 June 2022.

Photo of Jeremy Smith

Photo gallery - from 1965 to the present

We share here some photos received from our alumni and some taken by us at recent graduations.

Photo below showing postgraduate students of the Department, May 2018

a group of postgraduate Economics students outside of the entrance to the Department