Initial Plans

An undergraduate economics dissertation is essentially a mini academic paper. It begins with an introduction and ends with a conclusion.

Jon Simon from the University of Hull has designed a model that combines Kolb’s experiential learning cycle and Gowin’s knowledge v components. This model will be very helpful (pdf) not only to analyse the data and information you find from authors and academics but also to scrutinise your own dissertation.

In terms of the main body, academic papers are normally made up of some combination of the following sections (or ‘chapters’):

1) Literature Review

2) Economic theory/model(s)

3) Empirical work

It is possible that a paper will include only one of these, or it may include all three (or any two of the three). You have a certain amount of discretion when it comes to which you include, but bear in mind that some topics lend themselves more to one type of analysis than others. And of course, all dissertations will start with an introduction and finish with a conclusion

You should give careful thought to which of these you want to emphasise, and which of these if any, you should leave out entirely. You are constrained both in the amount of time you have and the number of words you can write (normally between 7,000 and 10,000 for most departments). So when you plan your dissertation you should plan an approximate division of both. For example, if you want to show off some flashy econometrics, you might want to spend three weeks and 3-4000 words (of a 7,500-word dissertation) on it. Alternatively, if you only want to do some simple econometrics, you might spend much less.

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