ECON 7232 - Master of Research Studies Economics Dissertation

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

Each student is to undertake an individual research project that exhibits original investigation, analysis and interpretation. This will be written up as a dissertation. The length of the dissertation will be determined in conjunction with the candidate's Supervisor and the Academic Program Coordinator, and shall be not longer than 20,000 words. The dissertation will be examined by not less than two examiners none of whom have acted as a supervisor for the research.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 7232
    Course Master of Research Studies Economics Dissertation
    Coordinating Unit School of Economics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 12
    Contact Up to two hours per week
    Restrictions MResSt (Economics Masters students only
    Course Description Each student is to undertake an individual research project that exhibits original investigation, analysis and interpretation. This will be written up as a dissertation. The length of the dissertation will be determined in conjunction with the candidate's Supervisor and the Academic Program Coordinator, and shall be not longer than 20,000 words.
    The dissertation will be examined by not less than two examiners none of whom have acted as a supervisor for the research.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Florian Ploeckl

    Course Timetable

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

  • 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)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,3,4,6
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2-6
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 2-6
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 2
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-6
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-6
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1-6
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-6
  • Learning Resources
    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. 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. A regular schedule would be a meeting at least once every 2 weeks.

    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 12 units.
    Learning Activities Summary
    1. The student is to prepare a one page proposal of the research idea no later than one week before the beginning of the semester and submit this to the Course Co-ordinator.
    2. A supervisor will be assigned by the Course Co-ordinator.
    3. The student is to arrange a first meeting with their assigned supervisor within the first 2 weeks of semester.
    4. At the initial (or a subsequent) meeting the student, with approval of the supervisor, will decide on the exact research question, the relevant literature as well as the relevant structure and sections of the dissertation.
    5. 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.
    6. 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 the individual sections, and submit them combined as the final version to the supervisor.
    7. The supervisor, with support from the Program coordinator, organizes two examiners and provides them with the complete thesis.
    8. The examiners mark the thesis and provide a written evaluation of about a half to a full page length 
    9. Throughout the semester students are strongly expected to attend the Monday's Thesis Workshops and the Friday's Seminar.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Students interested in undertaking the dissertation are recommended to consult with the Academic Program Coordinator during the prior semester of the program. They are also encouraged to contact faculty in their area of interest who might be willing to serve as supervisors for their thesis. 

    The usual format of the dissertation is an independent research project. 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 supervisor (for example, someone from the student’s current or former workplace), which still requires some co-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.

    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)
  • 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 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 to be agreed upon length of the dissertation is expected to be approximately 15,000 words and must be more than 12000 but not exceed 20,000 words including footnotes and references but not the title page and abstract.

    There should be a title page showing:
    1. the title in full
    2. the full name and degrees of the candidate
    3. the School in which the candidate submitted the work
    4. the degree for which the dissertation is submitted
    5. the date of submission
    6. the declaration.
    The declaration includes the signature and date and the following prargraph. "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 thesis must be submitted no later than the first Friday after Week 12 to the student’s supervisor. Students must submit two copies of the thesis.

    The two readers 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, who may be the supervisor
    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. Selection of the topic; is it well-conceived, justified, and imaginative?
    2. Design of the thesis; is it logical, well-structured, and well explained? 
    3. Clarity of research questions; are the central hypotheses clearly stated and motivated? 
    4. Literature context; is the question clearly located within the larger literature? 
    5. Skill and originality; how well are the relevant analytical ideas are developed? 
    6. Appropriateness of methods; are the data, empirical techniques or formal models used appropriate for the question and is care and ingenuity demonstrated in their use. 
    7. Sophistication; is the level of sophistication displayed in the empirical work, both in obtaining the data and in its analysis, or the understanding of the academic literature high? 
    8. Interpretation of results; are results and conclusion clearly drawn; are the limitations of the study identified; and are the results coherently answering the research questions. 
    9. 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

    A fail is a rare result, 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.

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