ECON 7231 - Economics Dissertation (9 units)

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

Each student is to undertake an individual research project that exhibits original investigation, analysis and interpretation which will be written up as a dissertation under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Students need to consult the Academic Program coordinator before the semester to discuss suitable topics and potential supervisors.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 7231
    Course Economics Dissertation (9 units)
    Coordinating Unit Economics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 9
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites Credit average for other Masters courses
    Restrictions Economics Masters students only
    Assessment Thesis - approximately 6000 to 9000 words
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Florian Ploeckl

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Students are expected to attend the various research seminars and workshops offered in the school throughout the semester.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The purpose of the dissertation is to encourage students to undertake independent economic research and to foster research-related skills, which should benefit future study and employment.

    On successful completion of this dissertation students will be able to:
    1 Demonstrate specialist knowledge in the area of their research
    2 Demonstrate the ability to initiate research and to formulate viable research questions
    3 Demonstrate the capacity to design, conduct and report sustained and original research
    4 Demonstrate the ability to evaluate and synthesize research-based and scholarly literature
    5 Present research findings and argument in a suitably structured and sequenced thesis that conforms to protocols of academic presentation and research practice
    6 Demonstrate the ability to critique literature and conduct analyses at a Masters level.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no required resources for this course.
    Recommended Resources
    A bibliography must be included. Since different journals use different methods, it is necessary to choose one method and stick to it consistently. For some guidance concerning bibliographical methods, consult one or more of the references listed in the Barr Smith Library subject catalogue under the heading "Dissertation, Academic"; for example, Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Dissertations.

    Students are recommended to consult the Writing Centre at the University for writing and language questions.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Unlike standard coursework, research is a relatively unstructured activity. While students of this course may be required to attend a Thesis Workshops, student must self pace and self monitor their own progress. One to one guidance is provided in supervision sessions. Regularity of supervision will be set in accordance with their supervisor.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This course is 9 units and therefore students are expected to devote 36 hours per week to this course.
    Learning Activities Summary
    1. The student is to prepare a short proposal of the research area and central work of literature idea not later than one week before the beginning of the semester and submit this to the Course Co-ordinator.
    2. Approval to enrol must be obtained from the Program Co-ordinator before the semester starts. A supervisor will be assigned by the Course Co-ordinator once approval is granted.
    3. The student is to arrange a first meeting with their assigned supervisor within the first 2 weeks of semester. In this or a subsequent meeting the student and supervisor decide on a structure and sections of the dissertation.
    4. Students are expected to submit written drafts of each section to the supervisor. The supervisor is then expected to provide a constructive and critical assessment of the work submitted and make a note of the comments given.
    5. For each section of the dissertation, the supervisor is expected to read and comment on the section once. The student is then expected to revise these sections, and submit the combined work as the final version to the supervisor.
    6. Upon receiving the final version of the dissertation, assessing the content, and the decision of the final mark, the supervisor is expected to provide direct feedback on the student’s work – including the strengths and weaknesses of the dissertation.
    7. Throughout the semester students are encouraged to attend Monday's Thesis Workshops and the Friday Seminar.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Students interested in undertaking the dissertation must first consult with the Academic Program Coordinator during the prior semester of the program.

    There are two different formats the dissertation might take which will also dictate the kind of research involved in writing the dissertation:

    1. The student works on a project that makes use of original empirical material/data that they have access to. This might involve working with an outside co-supervisor (for example, someone from the student’s current or former workplace), which still requires principal supervision from an academic staff member of the School.

    In this case, students would need to discuss their proposal in detail; first with the Program Coordinator and then, if approved, with the assigned supervisor at the School. Whilst the student would be focused on making use of empirical data, relevant literature would clearly need to be referred to in order to represent thorough research practices. Although an econometric or applied economic investigation is the most common, and recommended, form other acceptable methodologies are conceptual research work, case studies and original surveys.

    2. The student carries out a comprehensive literature review and the dissertation takes the form of a critical assessment of the current state of knowledge, comparable to an article in the Journal of Economic Surveys. The student might suggest one paper (either a journal article or a working paper), book, policy issue or other suitable object whose in-depth, critical assessment will form the central core of the dissertation. Approval by the Program Coordinator requires agreement by the potential supervisor that the topic and/or the core paper chosen by the student contains an appropriate quantity and level of economics and is suitable for such a dissertation.

    To write a critical assessment, students need to carry out background reading, review references listed in the paper and independently identify further relevant works. There is a need for the student to clearly locate the paper being examined within this body of literature, as well as demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical and/or empirical material in the paper, and provide critical assessment and policy implications.

    Topics for Dissertation

    As mentioned above, students are responsible for proposing the topic of the dissertation, although they can discuss their area of interest and a general idea for a topic with the Program Coordinator, who can assist them to narrow down the topic if necessary.

    Some examples of previous dissertations are:

    Theoretical Analysis: The Possibility of a Sino-Australia Free Trade Agreement (2004)

    Empirical Analysis: The Effect of Foreign Direct Investment on the Host Country Export: In the case of Thailand (2004)

    Empirical Analysis: The Causality between income and Energy Consumption: A Panel Vector Autoregressive Approach (2007)

    Literature review and critical critique: Does Good Policy Impact Effectiveness and Allocation of Aid? (2007)
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    100% Final dissertation paper
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Attendance at the Thesis Workshops may be required.
    Assessment Detail
    The standard of English expression is expected to be high. Students may wish to consult references listed in the subject catalogue of the Barr Smith Library under the heading "Style, Literary". While supervisors will offer reasonable assistance, the writing of a dissertation is the student’s task and students must not expect the supervisor to convert careless or poor prose into good English.
    The length of the dissertation will be decided in coordination with the supervisor and the course coordinator, but will be typically in the 6000 - 9000 words range.

    There should be a title page showing:
    • The title in full
    • The full name and degrees of the candidate
    • The School in which the candidate submitted the work
    • The degree for which the dissertation is submitted
    • The date of submission
    • The declaration.
    The declaration includes the signature and date and the following paragraph. "Except where appropriately acknowledged this thesis is my own work, has been expressed in my own words and has not previously been submitted for assessment."

    There should be a brief (less than 1 page) abstract preceding the text of the dissertation. This should indicate the aims, scope and conclusions of the dissertation, as well as the word count.

    The dissertation must also include a bibliography. See under Recommended Resources above.

    The exact submission date and procedure will be posted on MyUni before the start of the semester.

    The supervisor and the second reader will mark the work independent from each other. The total mark is the average of the two marks. If the two marks differ by more than one grade, the course coordinator will reconcile the marks with the help of a third reader.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    In assessing theses, examiners look for the following attributes. Depending on the format of the thesis not all of these criteria are appropriate in each case.

    1. Topic; is it well-defined, justified, and suitably motivated?

    2. Structure; is it logical, coherent, and well explained?

    3. Literature context; does the dissertation exhibit knowledge about the larger literature?

    4. Understanding; is a thorough understanding of the methods and tools used in the literature evident?

    5. Independent thought; does the analysis demonstrate originality and independent thought?

    6. Conclusions; are conclusions and implications clearly drawn and are the limitations of the study identified?

    7. Quality of presentation, is the language clear and understandable, is the use of tables, diagrams and other figures appropriate and well executed, and are formal conventions like footnoting and referencing followed?

    High Distinction:
    The dissertation excels across most of the range of the described attributes and shows at least high competency in all of them Percentage Range: 85-100

    The dissertation will be at least highly competent across the attributes, and probably excel in at least one of them. Relative weaknesses in some areas may be compensated by conspicuous strengths in others Percentage Range: 75-84

    The dissertation will show competency across most of the attributes, though may have inadequacies in a few of them Percentage Range: 65-74

    The dissertation contains some serious inadequacies. However, to obtain a pass rather than a fail the dissertation must show some understanding of research topic and evidence of independent analysis Percentage Range: 50-64

    Given when the student displays little understanding of the relevant economic ideas, and fails to meet the criteria for a pass Percentage Range: less than 50

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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