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Spring & Summer Term

MSc Economics (BUEM032S7)
MSc Financial Economics (BUEM030S7)

Dissertation Guidelines

  • Two hard-copies - preferably spine bound (this service is offered at ULU)
  • A disk or USB key with all your data and dissertation needs to be handing in along with a hardcopy of your dissertation
  • Format: font and spacing should be clear
  • Referencing should be included
  • ONLY your student number and title of dissertation should appear on the front paper
  • For guidance on how to write a successful dissertation, please read 'What about the Dissertation' click here to view slides
  • Former, MSc Economics student Samuel Tombs won the Rybczynski Prize awarded by The Society of Business Economists for his 2011 dissertation. Please click here to read the dissertation in full.
  • Please read more about Plagiarism


  • The Dissertation requires students to apply the techniques and knowledge acquired from the taught courses. Students should show that they:
  • have a good knowledge of the relevant literature on their chosen topic
  • can identify an interesting question associated with that topic and analyse this question either in a new way or with new data
  • can demonstrate a good grasp of techniques (statistical, numerical or theoretical) relevant for analysing the question
  • can present the results of their analysis in a clear and convincing manner, within the word limit (8,000 words excluding bibliography)

There are three routes students might choose for the dissertation:

  1. to extend their Econometrics project.
  2. to develop a topic from their option course in conjunction with the option course supervisor.
  3. to do an independent topic in consultation with a member of staff.

Any subject that relates to material covered in the Programme is admissible, but it is generally sensible to stick to projects which contain some substantial element of statistical or numerical analysis. Theoretical projects are more difficult although occasionally students are able to produce good work of this type. Purely institutional topics are not permitted.

On data, it is important not to be too ambitious. Often students spend inordinate amounts of time collecting large datasets and then find they have no time to perform analysis. Interesting analysis motivated by some genuine, substantive question earns high marks. Whatever is done, it is important that students time their work realistically. Aiming to complete the report in the last fortnight before the deadline is a recipe for trouble. If you are unfamiliar with econometric packages, everything takes longer than you expect. A good source of financial and economic data is DataStream, which can be accessed using a computer in the Library.

All dissertations should have:

  • A well defined research question about the topic
  • A review of the relevant literature showing familiarity with recent published research
  • A review of the theoretical issues relevant  to the topic
  • A review of the empirical evidence relevant to the topic. This may (but need not) include econometrics. It could look at history, institutions, case studies, etc. Even theoretical dissertations need some empirical context. If students do econometrics they need to follow the econometrics project rules, provide data etc.
  • Clear conclusions which discuss the extent to which they have answered the question posed.
  • Adequate referencing and a clear academic literary style.


Students must submit a one-page proposal (see section 1.2). This proposal should state the basic idea of the project, what data and computing facilities will be required and whether or not these are known to be available. Please submit an electronic version of your proposal to Moodle.

The dissertation is intended to demonstrate their ability to work independently. There will be a couple of lectures after the exam period (late June) giving students’ general advice on how to write a dissertation. They will not be allocated supervisors. Students are responsible for getting informal advice from staff members before end June. To facilitate this, we will assign a faculty “point of contact” based on the proposal submitted. July and August are for completing the research, and for writing up the Dissertation. The dissertation has a limit of 8,000 words. Note that many staff members are away in July and August; therefore it is advisable to get in touch with your point of contact as early as possible.

Two bound copies should be submitted to the assignment box and an electronic version should be submitted to Moodle by the submission deadline.