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diplomatic service economics


Diplomatic & Development Economics

The heart of development, global macroeconomic policy and international relations


3 Years



A location allowance is also granted for placements in London.


London and East Kilbride (followed by subsequent opportunities overseas)


The Foreign Commonwealth & 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. Assistant Economists have an exciting career ahead of them in FCDO, 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. Economic analysis matters, giving Ministers fresh ideas about complex issues and deep insights into policy options.

Economics improves policy and programming by:

  • 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.

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

Diplomatic & Development Economists will start their career with three varied and high profile roles within FCDO. Generally, the first two years are spent in UK based roles before having the option to apply for roles overseas. 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 applying for development and diplomatic 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?

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Diplomatic & 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 & 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 & Development Economists to apply for both analytical economics roles and policy roles later in their career, both within FCDO or in other government departments. Allowing a great range of career pathways.

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 Office.

All Diplomatic & 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.

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.

Supporting your learning

Diplomatic & 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 & 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.
  • The International Academy is the home of all learning and development for the FCDO. During your three years on the scheme, there will be five weeks of required learning focussed on leadership and developing your skills in diplomatic tradecraft and international development. This will be supplemented with on-the-job training. This will be followed by induction material and sessions specifically for new entrant economists, covering key thematic areas and technical skills.
  • 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 & Development Economists will sit a ‘Readiness Panel’ after three years on the Fast Stream scheme. This will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the expertise and experience you have developed during your three posts and your readiness to start applying for Economic Advisor roles and be accredited to the GES at Grade 7 level. 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?


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.

Other 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.

Step 1 - Online Assessments

Online assessments

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

Step 2 - Assessment centre

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.

Step 3 - Final selection

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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