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Diplomatic and Development Economics

The heart of international economic issues, development and foreign policy

5 Years
Circa £31,000

plus a London Location Allowance where applicable.

London and East Kilbride

followed by subsequent opportunities overseas


The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pursues our national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. It promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK's security, defends UK values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges with international partners. It is a truly global organisation with 280 posts worldwide.

Economics is central to the work of the FCDO and economists are at the heart of our decision-making on policy, partnerships, diplomacy and aid spending. The FCDO is an international economic department with a global development mission. Economics expertise is in increasing demand, giving Ministers fresh ideas about complex issues and deep insights into policy options.

Economics improves policy and programming by:

  • Understanding the impact economic developments in a country or region have on wider policy interests
  • Diagnosing and prioritising challenges
  • Designing solutions with rigorous evidence, considering trade-offs and incentives and assessing cost-effectiveness of alternatives.
  • Influencing and implementing policy with metrics to measure success.
  • Influencing others through credible data-driven, evidence-based arguments.

Ensuring non-economists understand the implications of economic analysis is vital, and members of the Diplomatic and Development Economist Fast Stream play an important role in building this understanding and capability throughout the FCDO.

Diplomatic and Development Economists work on some of the most diverse and rewarding projects in government. As a Diplomatic and Development Economist Fast Streamer your work will allow you to focus on both country specific and thematic projects that look across international borders. This will place you at the heart of development, global macroeconomic policy and international relations.

All UK based roles involve working with a range of key stakeholders including other government departments, consultancies, international organisations and academia. This provides invaluable experience and training ahead of an economist postings overseas.


  • You must be a British citizen (those with dual nationality may apply)
  • Resided in the UK for at least 5 of the previous 10 years, including a consecutive 12-month period.
  • You need, or expect to have, a 2:1 degree, degree apprenticeship or higher or a post-graduate degree in an economic subject.
  • For mixed degrees, at least 50% should be in economics.

What will you experience?

Diplomatic and Development Economics Fast Streamers are placed in a wide range of roles with the primary purpose of making sure development and foreign policy is underpinned by sound economic analysis. No two Diplomatic and Development Economists will share the same career path and you can choose to spend a large part of your career overseas. The unique benefit of this scheme is that the training it provides allows Diplomatic and Development Economists to apply for both analytical economics roles and policy roles later in their career, both within FCDO or in other government departments. Enabling a great range of career pathways.

All Diplomatic and Development Economist Fast Streamers must be granted 'Developed Vetting' (DV) security clearance before starting. For DV clearance, you need to have lived in the UK for 5 of the last 10 years, including a consecutive 12-month period. Security clearance relies on assurance checks that can only be carried out in the UK - which is why a sufficient UK footprint is a mandatory requirement.

Civil Service Fast Stream

Your progression through the programme

The below outlines the current arrangements within the programme. We are reviewing the programme in light of the creation of FCDO, so this is subject to change slightly before autumn 2021 entrants join the organisation.

Year One: On arrival in FCDO, you will be either assigned to an Assistant Economist role in the central Economics & Evaluation Directorate (led by FCDO's Chief Economist) or embedded within a team in one of the other Directorates across FCDO. Your role will cover a geographical or thematic area for which you will have responsibility. Here you will enjoy a wide variety of work, focused around analysis supporting priority development and foreign policy areas; this will involve leveraging your own expertise (supported by your wider team) and that of the FCDO economics network (UK based and across the world). You will also have the opportunity to provide economic and analytical support to policy teams across the FCDO on your area or working on specific projects.

Supporting your learning

Diplomatic and Development Economists have outstanding access to learning and development (L&D) opportunities, following FCDO's 70:20:10 model (70% of learning through on the job experience, 20% for peer to peer learning, and 10% through more formal courses and tuition):

  • Professional economics and analysis training structured around FCDO economic curriculum, with focused L&D in first two years of Fast Stream, and longer term support to retain and build economics expertise throughout the stages of your career pathway at FCDO. Formal courses are available from the Government Economics Service, FCDO's Economics Faculty and leading external providers. All Diplomatic and Development Economists will be expected to reach post graduate level understanding in key areas of macroeconomics, international economics and development economics by the end of their second year. You will be supported to achieve this through formal post graduate level economics training.
  • You will benefit from a tailored Fast Stream training programme focussed on leadership skills and developing your knowledge of diplomatic tradecraft and international development. The programme is designed to give you the core knowledge and skills to get your FCDO career off to the best start. You will also have access to mentoring and work shadowing opportunities, in addition to on-the-job training.
  • Regular economics seminars from leading academics and peer to peer learning from economists across FCDO's network.
  • Opportunities to carry out short term economics and analytical projects outside your main work area via FCDO's '10% time', helping to build wider skills and application.
  • Access to wider non-economic L&D opportunities provided by FCDO's International Academy and Civil Service Learning, including a large and diverse array of courses, covering the breadth of FCDO policy areas and wider skills such as how to communicate effectively with ministers.
  • You will join a thriving economics community where knowledge is shared through lunchtime brown bag sessions, virtual and in person conferences and Town Halls.

All Diplomatic and Development Economists will sit an economic 'Readiness Panel' technical skills and readiness for expert economist roles at higher grades. Full support will be provided by economics Head of Profession to prepare you for this stage in your career development.

What benefits will you enjoy?

Civil Service Fast Stream

You will have a unique chance to work on international issues that really matter, from alleviating poverty to ensuring security and prosperity for the UK. The programme provides an excellent platform for promotion and long-term progression in both the FCDO and the wider civil service.

Joining as a permanent employee of the FCDO, benefits include the Civil Service Pension Scheme, recognised language qualifications, season ticket loans, sports and social activities, childcare assistance, diversity support/networks/forums and more.

Learning and Development on the Diplomatic and Development Economics Scheme

Alongside the scheme-specific learning offer, you will complete the universal training which provides core foundation skills and leadership & management skills.

Application process

  1. Online assessments

    The online assessments consist of Work Style Questionnaires, a multimedia Situational Judgement Questionnaire, Numerical Test and Work Based Scenarios.

  2. Assessment Centre

    If you pass the online assessments, you'll be invited to undertake a half day assessment centre. This will be conducted virtually on line. The Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC) reflects some of the key elements of a Fast Stream role and will consist a leadership scenario, a team scenario and a written scenario. Information will be presented via an app that you will be able to access remotely.

  3. Final Selection

    If you are successful at the assessment centre, you'll be invited to take part in a final selection process.

    The specialist assessments will assess your broad capabilities and motivation to be part of the profession you've chosen. You'll be sent detailed guidance before the assessments to explain what is involved.

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