Dissertation Guidelines for Students

.         What is an MSc Dissertation?


The main aim of the dissertation is to allow you to develop the skills needed to carry out original research in economics. The process of researching and writing the dissertation should provide students with a number of research skills:


  • Learn how to choose a topic that is both interesting, original, and feasible, allowing for time constraints.
  • Learn how to choose research methods appropriate to the topic (e.g. right data, econometrics methods, etc)
  • Learn how to use econometric software, databases, etc
  • Learn how to read, understand, and summarise academic papers at the “research frontier”.
  • Work without the need for continuous supervision.


An MSc dissertation should take one of three forms (or a mixture of these):


(i)      A critical survey of some area of the subject. This should be written in such a way as to take the non- specialist reader from the beginnings of the topic up to the frontiers. It should integrate and synthesise existing ideas and results, demonstrate the relationships between them and assess their significance. It is not enough to simply catalogue previous work. We expect critical evaluation, not description.


(ii)     New empirical work, for example, applying techniques developed by others to a dataset not previously used for that purpose, with a clear motivation for doing so. This might include replicating some earlier study and examining the robustness of its results to variation in the specification and data used.


(iii)    New theoretical work, for example, examining the robustness of an existing theoretical model to changes in its underlying assumptions, with a clear motivation for doing so.


However, you should also bear in mind that you only have around three months to research and write your dissertation, so you should not be overly ambitious. You supervisor is there to help you strike the right balance between originality and feasibility!


  1. Topic Selection and Supervision Arrangements


Your first task is to choose your dissertation topic:1


(i)   You may already have decided on the topic you wish to pursue.

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