If you have to do a dissertation, or you opt to do one, your first decision is to choose a title or topic.
This is perhaps the most daunting step of the dissertation process, and it puts many students off doing a dissertation at all. This is a pity, as there are plenty of reasons to do a dissertation even if you don’t have to (see ‘Should I do one?‘).
Some universities allow students free rein to choose a topic, although many provide a list of prescribed titles (often with associated supervisors) from which students choose. Regardless of which method your department uses, you may still have some discretion in choosing a topic, and this needs to be thought about carefully.
Choosing a title and topic are crucial to writing a good dissertation and achieving the mark you want. Topics which are ill thought through do not often lend themselves to the strengths of the student. It is worthwhile spending some time thinking about which topics might be appropriate before you settle on one. Choosing a title or topic hastily can hamper you from the start.
Having said this, a wide range of topics lend themselves to economic analysis of one sort or another. Economics is resented by other social sciences as the ‘imperial discipline’ as it colonises topics of investigation which had nothing to do with economics a few years ago: economists now study determinants of fertility and happiness as well as labour markets and economic growth.
It is this choice which can seem daunting. How can an undergraduate narrow down all the possible topics available for economic investigation, and choose just one?