Searching for inspiration

Even with the criteria for a good dissertation above, there’s still plenty of choice. And many penultimate-year students don’t feel that they have enough knowledge to narrow the many potential topics down to just one.

A good place to start is by looking over your old lecture notes. Was there any topic that really grabbed you, and caught your attention as interesting? If so, it fulfils one of the key criteria for a successful dissertation already.

If not, or if your favoured topics aren’t suitable, then scanning survey journals such as the Journal of Economic Perspectives or the Journal of Economic Literature can give you a flavour of potential topics which have an associated literature. The style of these journals should be accessible to a second-year undergraduate.

Another source of interesting and recent research information are economics blogs, such as These contain brief, non-technical summaries of recent research written by leading academics. They are certainly worth a look if you are struggling for ideas, and even if you’re not – undergraduates often complain that economics is too theoretical and divorced from the real world at degree level (especially compared to A-level or equivalent).

Blogs are an excellent resource to keep in touch with the latest research about interesting issues. And they are certainly not divorced from the real world.

Image by Stephen Poff from Flickr