Guidline for composing a master thesis at the department of International and Institutional Economics

1. What kind of competencies are to be examined by a Master thesis?

During a Master thesis you should be able to show your ability to orientate yourself in the given field of research and the recent research discussion. Further you should be capable of interpreting the given material according to your own research question and of developing and evaluating your own theses. You should analyse secondary sources in detail. Further it is possible but not necessary to collect own data as well as to make an application of the theory (e.g. Case study) or to just have a purely rhetoric research question.

2. Finding a topic

First of all a suitable topic needs to be found. At our department only economic-related papers can be supervised. The driving force in the process of finding a topic shall be the student himself/herself. We would like to encourage you to tell us about your own ideas and fields of interest. Topics in the areas of international, institutional and development economics are preferred. The list of former Master theses topics shall give you an idea about how a suitable research questions could look like.

Most topics evolve during the ?Ping-Pong-Process? of exchanging ideas and comments between student and professor. This process of exchange goes on until the student and the supervising professor agree on a research question. After a topic has been set it can only be revised in exceptional cases and under approval of the supervisor and the SPA (Service Center for Examination-Related Questions).

In addition, we propose some topics for bachelor theses to be written in the first half of 2014. Should you not wish to come up with your own topic and be interested in one of our proposals, you might apply until 01 February 2014. After this date, topics will be distributed on a competetitive basis. (In case topics remain, you might still work on them later). You should note that there might be more content-wise guidelines and requirements from our side if you work with one of our topics. Furthermore there are requirements regarding your pre-knowledge and courses you must have taken. Please apply with a short motivation statement and information about your meeting the requirements until 01 Feb. We will come back to you with our decision in the first week of February. After topics are redistributed, your working time starts shortly thereafter.

3. Composing the research proposal

After a topic has been set the regular processing time for composing the research proposal starts. The time provided is up to 4 weeks. Formally you will achieve the 3 CP of methodology for the proposal. Typically the following elements are included:

  1. Problem definition and lead questions
  2. State of research/Literature Overview
  3. Methodology
  4. Working schedule
  5. Preliminary structure

Problem definition and lead questions. Please describe your field and topic of research. Important: Try to use exact and hierarchically structured lead questions as guidance (main questions/sub-question). You will have to think about a good leading idea first. Also it has to be considered whether and how the questions will be answered at the end of the paper.

State of research/Literature review. A first idea about the area of research shall be provided. Please discuss with regard to your lead questions. Try to have a look for which points you might need more materials. To be able to handle a lot of literature in a short time try to use reading techniques like SQR³. A Bachelor thesis is wide deeper than the theory learned in lecture but does not necessarily completely relate to the state of research.

Methodology. This part is about methodology in the narrower sense of word. Of course the basis for all papers is represented by the critical reflection of secondary sources. If you are further going to apply one of the following methods during your paper you should consider the following questions (and display your ideas in this part of the proposal).

  • Case study: How to work with a case study? What kind of methodological requirements are to be met?
  • Expert interview or similar methods: Questions of qualitative social research
  • Quantitative data analysis: statistic procedures

Please be aware that a research paper can also be solely based on secondary literature. It is not necessary to collect and process own data.

Working schedule. Working schedule refers to a list of weekly structured activities. Please always consider some additional time for potential delays. A point of reference could be to calculate 50% more time than you think you will need! If you plan to travel, also think about and plan the costs.

A research proposal consists of 10 to 15 pages. It is not allowed to include parts of your research proposal directly in the final paper due to the fact that the proposal represents a separate examination performance.

4. Composing the actual paper

After handing in your research proposal the processing time for the Master thesis of 6 months begins. Please register the title of your work and the starting date at the SPA (Service Center for Examination-Related Questions) for Spanish-studying students or at the Danish office for Danish-studying students. You should request your supervisor to discuss your proposal with you as soon as possible. During the processing time the supervisor will be trying to help you with your questions ? normally during office hours. Nevertheless a pre-correction will not take place. While you are working on your thesis, please try to check every 2 to 3 weeks if you are still following the roadmap given by your research proposal. You should also check whether you are fine with your working schedule regarding the time. If there are inconsistencies, adjustments are to be made.

Please see the Guidelines for Composing an Academic Paper.