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Unit information: MRes Research Methods in Economics in 2018/19

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Unit name MRes Research Methods in Economics
Unit code EFIMM0024
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Jon Temple
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Economics
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit introduces students to research in economics, with an emphasis on the practical skills needed to carry out original research. The unit will cover a number of key issues that arise in economic research and will prepare students for writing a PhD proposal and their MRes dissertation. These include:

Alternative approaches to, and key principles for, economic research (different types of theory, alternative approaches to empirical research) and relevant controversies - How to come up with a research topic and a research question, defining its core elements - How to prepare a literature review and access data - Writing a PhD proposal -Writing and presentation skills.

Intended learning outcomes

1. Knowledge and understanding of some standard principles for research design in economics, and the ability to discuss the scope and limitations of these principles.
2. An understanding of the key steps in formulating a research project in different fields of economics.
3. The ability to evaluate critically the advantages and disadvantages of different research methods.
4. An awareness of common problems faced by researchers, and how to address them.

Teaching details

There will be two hours of lectures and one class per week. Coursework will consist of assignments which will also be used for course assessment.

Lectures will introduce and discuss basic principles for research design, including their scope and limitations. They will also discuss the application of these principles to different areas of economics.

Classes will provide the opportunity to discuss the practical application of these principles, partly by teaching the use of statistical software and other relevant skills needed for empirical research.

Contact Hours Per Week 3

Student Input

20 hours lectures

10 hours tutorials

20 hours preparation of dissertation outline

100 hours individual study

Assessment Details

Assignment 1: Report on academic research paper (25%). ​For this assignment, s​tudents will ​prepare a report on one of the academic research papers suggested​, as if they were a peer reviewer. Word limit 1,500 words. This assignment tests ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.

​Assignment 2: Empirical replication exercise (25%). For this assignment, students will replicate results within an existing empirical paper, using Stata, and prepare a report on the results​. Page limit 5 – 6 pages, including tables (1.5 spaced 12-point font with margins of at least 2.5 cm). This assignment tests ILOs 1, 3 and 4.

​Assignment 3: Dissertation outline (50%). Students will prepare an outline of the research project they plan to undertake for their summer dissertation. Word limit 2,500 words​. This assignment tests ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Formative assessment: class participation and discussion. These will provide further opportunities for feedback on the students’ progress.

Reading and References

Kramarz, Francis; Angrist, Joshua D.; Blau, David M.; Falk, Armin; Robin, Jean-Marc; and Taber, Christopher R. (2006). How To Do Empirical Economics. Investigaciones Economicas, 30(2), 179-206. ​

​Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels (1996). Foundations of research in economics : how do economists do economics? Edward Elgar, Cheltenham. [Library HB74.5 FOU] ​

​Dani Rodrik (2015). Economics Rules: why economics works, when it fails, and how to tell the difference. Oxford University Press, Oxford. [Library HB75 ROD]