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School of Social Sciences

Writing your economics research proposal

If you are applying to the Economics postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit a research proposal with your application.

The nature of your proposal will depend on when you apply.

Year 1

The role of the proposal

For entry into Year 1 of the programme, the proposal is used to:

  • Identify your broad areas of interest;
  • See if you have consulted relevant literature beyond the standard textbooks;
  • Obtain an impression of your ability to think critically;
  • Assess what motivates you to pursue a research degree in economics

Proposal guidelines

For entry into Year 1 of the programme, the research proposal is expected to include the following:

  • The Research Area Group to which you would expect to be affiliated;
  • The member(s) of staff you would like to provide supervision (this information is also requested in the online application form under ‘Proposed research supervisor’);
  • A description of the area in which you expect your eventual research to be. This should describe possible research questions you might address, and describe why you find them interesting and relevant. In so doing, you should relate the possible research questions to the extant literature in this area of economics;
  • A bibliography of any journal articles and books to which you have referred;
  • No more than 1500 words.

Year 2

The role of the proposal

If you are seeking entry into Year 2 you are expected to have more developed research ideas. Your proposal will be used to assess:

  • The quality and originality of your ideas;
  • Whether you are able to think critically;
  • If you have grasp of the relevant literature.

It will also give us:

  • Important information about the perspectives you intend to take in your research area;
  • How you fit into the Economic department’s research profile;
  • An idea how to allocate a supervisory team.

Proposal guidelines

For entry into Year 2 of the programme, the research proposal is expected to include the following:

  • The Research Area Group to which you would expect to be affiliated;
  • The member(s) of staff you would like to provide supervision (this information is also requested in the online application form under ‘Proposed research supervisor’);
  • A detailed description of the area in which you expect your eventual research to be. This should describe the specific research questions you plan to address, the research methods you expect to use, and the expected data source for any empirical work planned.

The proposal should also:

  • Describe why you find these research questions interesting and relevant, and relate the specific research questions to the extant literature in this area of economics;
  • A bibliography of any journal articles and books to which you have referred;
  • Around 1500 words. In exceptional cases proposals significantly exceeding the word limit will be accepted.

Allocation of supervisors

For Year 1 entrants, the proposal is used to allocate a preliminary supervisor to act as mentor during the first year of study. This person will normally also act as a supervisor and may also become your MSc-dissertation supervisor. The exact composition of your supervisory team will be decided by the end of Year 1.

You will not be forced to follow the proposal exactly once you have started to study. It is normal for students to refine their original proposal over time.

With this in mind, the composition of your supervisory team may also change. Please note that members of staff are only expected to provide supervision in areas that are of interest to them and admittance to the programme does not imply the provision of supervision on any topic devised by the student.

Further information