In this section of the Handbook, we will provide information about the assessment methods that are used throughout the degree programme, as well as the various policies and procedures that are in place. You can find details of all policies relating to assessment and feedback on our Assessment and Feedback Webpages. In particular, here you will find a link to the Department's Assessment Strategy.
We have always been focused on enhancing teaching and learning. Through the richness of the curricula and syllabi, you are able to develop a range of skills, capacities and capabilities, which are designed to meet the aims and learning objectives of the courses and modules. It is appropriate that different learning objectives are assessed in different ways and this is reflected in a wide variety of types of assessment.
As a Department we are mindful of the different academic backgrounds of our students, particularly those who come to us from outside of the EU. We are aware that the UK higher education system may be very different to systems in which you have previously studied. With this in mind, we do our best to help familiarize you with the academic culture in the UK, particularly around how learning takes place in lectures and classes, approaches to assessment, expected standards of work, marking and plagiarism.
Many modules have coursework. These are summative assessments that contribute to your final module mark and define the progress you have made towards the module's learning objectives.
The assessment methods for each core MSc module are summarised in the table below. Assessment methods for optional modules can be viewed on the relevant module webpage.
|Name and Code of Module||Assessment (weight)||Exam (weight)|
|EC9011 Microeconomics and EC9012 Macroeconomics each have a three hour examination in January 2019 (100%)|
|EC902 Quantitative Methods: Econometrics A||
Two tests on Introductory Maths and Statistics (10%)
Group project (25%)
|Three-hour examination (plus 15 minutes reading time) in May 2019 (65%)|
|EC910 Quantitative Methods: Econometrics B||
Two tests on Introductory Maths and Statistics (10%)
Group project (25%)
|Three-hour examination in May 2019 (65%)|
|EC959 Dissertation||Proposal (1000 words) submitted at the end of June (20%) and Dissertation (8,000 words) submitted in September (80%)|
|Various EC-coded optional modules||Some modules have assessed coursework||Examinations in May 2019|
For MSc BES Economics Track students:
|Name and Code of Module||Assessment (weight)||Exam (weight)|
|EC907 Quantitative Methods: Econometrics A (for MSc BES Economics Track students)||Two tests on Introductory Maths and Statistics (20%)||Two-hour examination in May 2019 (80%)|
|EC987 Quantitative Methods: Econometrics B (for MSc BES Economics Track students)||Two tests on Introductory Maths and Statistics (20%)||Two-hour examination in May 2019 (80%)|
|PS922 Issues in Psychological Science||Class Tests (33%), Matlab Exercises (67%)|
|PS923 Methods and Analysis in Behavioural Science||Three assignments (90%), Homework (10%)|
|PS916 Project||Project (20,000 words) submitted in August (100%)|
|Various optional modules||All modules have assessed coursework|
The pass mark for all MSc modules is 50%. Listed below is the criteria we use in the Department of Economics for marking work on the MSc.
An outstanding piece of work, showing complete mastery of the subject, with an exceptionally developed and mature ability to analyse, synthesise and apply concepts, models and techniques. All requirements of the set work are covered and work is free from errors. The work demonstrates originality of thought, with strong critical reflection and the ability to tackle questions and issues not previously encountered. Ideas are explained with great lucidity and in an extremely organised manner.
An excellent piece of work, showing mastery of the subject, with a highly developed and mature ability to analyse, synthesise and apply concepts, models and techniques. All requirements of the set work are covered and work is free from all but very minor errors. There is good critical reflection and the ability to tackle questions and issues not previously encountered. Ideas are explained very clearly and in a highly organised manner.
A good piece of work, showing a sound grasp of the subject. A good attempt at analysis, synthesis and application of concepts, models and techniques. Most requirements of the set work are covered, but there may be a few gaps leading to some errors. There is some critical reflection and a reasonable attempt is made to tackle questions and issues not previously encountered. Ideas are explained clearly and in a well organised manner, with some minor exceptions.
A satisfactory piece of work, showing a grasp of major areas of the subject, but probably with areas of ignorance. Analysis, synthesis and application of concepts, models and techniques is mechanical, with a heavy reliance on course materials. The requirements of the set work are covered but with significant gaps. Little or no critical reflection and limited ability to tackle questions or issues not previously encountered. Ideas are explained adequately but with some confusion and lack of organisation.
A failing piece of work. There is a weak attempt at analysis, synthesis and application of concepts, models and techniques. Only some of the requirements of the set work are covered. Inability to reflect critically and difficulty in beginning to address questions and issues not previously encountered. Ideas are poorly explained and organised.
A failing piece of work. There are extremely serious gaps in knowledge of the subject, and many areas of confusion. Few or none of the requirements of the set work are covered. The student has failed to engage seriously with the subject and finds it impossible to begin to address questions and issues not previously encountered. The levels of expression and organisation in the work are very inadequate.
Each piece of work must be submitted by a particular date set by the Postgraduate Office and module leader. You will be given notice of these deadlines; the Department’s guidance to markers specifies a minimum of four term-time weeks. It is your responsibility to arrange your own programme and manage your time accordingly. We advise you always to leave a safety margin in case of last-minute difficulties in obtaining books, printing files, IT problems and so on.
Please note that the submission deadlines and test dates can be found in Tabula.
Your work must be clearly and neatly written or typed. Double spacing is preferred as this makes reading easier and leaves space for comments by the tutor. Pages should be numbered.
You should remember that work is judged on quality rather than quantity and word limits must be adhered to. If you feel, however, that you can say what you want to say in fewer words then do so. We do not include a 10% margin above the word count. Excessive length will be penalised and the marker may ignore any material in excess of the word limit. Module leaders will indicate any exceptions to the standard word limit regulations, such as references. Do not include additional material in the form of lengthy footnotes or appendices unless this is specifically authorised by the coursework assignment.
You must provide a general bibliography at the end of your essay, listing all the works (and people) you consulted when researching the essay. Do not omit any sources. Do not ‘pad out’ the bibliography with works you have not consulted.
Correct referencing is important. To quote facts, figures, theories and theorems without accrediting their original source is an academic malpractice as well as being plagiarism. Direct quotations and results must be footnoted stating the author, publication or book, date and page or table number. If you rework published data or use it as the basis of your own calculations, you must identify the source in the same way. If you paraphrase the arguments or theories of other people you should again acknowledge the source in a footnote. Footnotes should be listed at the end of your essay, term paper or project. The following are three examples of the form of the footnotes.
- Layard, R. How to Beat Unemployment, Oxford University Press, 1986, page 34.
- Based on Feinstein C.H., “Capital Formation in Great Britain”, in The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, P. Mathias and M.M. Postan (eds.), Cambridge 1978, page 29, table 2.
- de Meza, D. and Webb, D. “Risk, Adverse Selection and Capital Market Failure” Economic Journal Volume 100, March 1990, pages 206-14.
In practice, you may find that some of the theories you mention have passed into the public domain and appear in any number of textbooks. Hence, it is not necessary to reference statements like: “Economic theory suggests that demand curves for normal goods are negatively sloped.” However, any textbooks you use should be listed in the bibliography at the end of the essay, term paper or project. Where tables of data are presented the source of the data should be stated at the foot of the table. The more widely you read and research your coursework, the quicker and better you will know what is and is not in the public domain and the more safely you will be able to determine what can go without a supporting reference.
Methods of submission
You should submit assessed coursework via electronic submission in Tabula.
Submission is open to access up until 3.30pm on the deadline day. You may complete e-submission earlier than the specified assessment deadline.
It is your responsibility to check carefully that you have uploaded the correct file via e-submission. Failure to upload the correct file will result in a penalty of three marks per day until the correct file is produced. Penalties only accrue on working days (not weekends or public holidays).
Here are some key points to follow to ensure you don't make a mistake:
- You should ensure your document includes your student i.d. number, but not your name, as all marking is carried out anonymously. You should also include the final word count.
- The assignment must be a 100% electronic submission and so any object such as graphs, figures or equations will have to be incorporated into your electronic document.
To submit your document online, you will need to create a PDF document. You can download a copy of the free software ‘PDF Converter’ from ITS and follow the instructions. Alternatively, on a Warwick PC go into Software Center and install Power PDF. You will then be able to create a PDF within Word by choosing the Nuance PDF tab and then selecting Create PDF. If you do not have any PDF software installed and can only use the Microsoft Word SaveAs PDF feature you MUST select the options button and then untick ‘Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded’. If you do not the file will be unreadable and you will be asked to resubmit your work and may receive a late penalty.
- Name the resultant PDF file as follows: module code-assignment number.pdf. For example EC924-a1.pdf would be the name for your first assignment for EC924 Monetary Economics.
- Check the final document before uploading to ensure it has been converted accurately.
- Double check that you are submitting the correct document and that you are submitting it to the correct module/assessment.
- If you submit more than one document for your assignment these should be submitted simultaneously.
- You must take care that you have logged into Tabula using your own username and that you are not logged in using a friend's account who has used the computer before you.
To seek an extension for assessed work you must make a request on Tabula.
Any requests for extensions should be made in a timely manner and ideally before the deadline. However, extensions can be applied retroactively, lifting any late penalty you might have already received for that assessment. You will need to submit evidence to support your request. Should there be an unexplained delay of more than one week before submitting your evidence we may not be able to agree to your extension request.
Extensions are not available for technological difficulties — you should anticipate that your hard drive will crash, your work will be destroyed by a virus, or that your laptop will get stolen. Make sure you back up to a writable CD, or a memory stick, or to your network disk space. Do not store your backup with your computer and definitely not in your laptop bag. Note also that extensions will not be granted on the basis of a student being in full- or part-time employment or on the basis of undertaking a summer internship. For assessments that are spread out over a long period of time, such as dissertations, there is an expectation that almost every student will encounter some difficulties in their lives during this period. As a result, it is anticipated that you will handle these situations without impacting on your final submission. Thus, low-level and short-term illnesses will not be considered as a basis for an extension for this type of work.
If you are taking a module that is offered by a different academic department it is still your home department (Economics) that makes the decision on an extension. In the case of an outside module, you will need to email the Teaching and Learning Manager directly and include your evidence. S/he will consider your request, and if it is approved, you will then need to collect and complete the form (if there is one) from the outside department, ask the equivalent manager to sign it and take it to that department so they are aware of your extension.
Work submitted late will be marked subject to a penalty, unless a formal assessment deadline extension has been granted in advance.
All work submitted on the due date but after 3.30pm will incur a three mark penalty per day with a minimum mark of zero for an assessment. Penalties only accrue on working days (not weekends or public holidays).
A percentage mark will be awarded for each piece of assessed coursework. Marks for all assessed work will be returned to you within 20 University working days of the submission deadline/test date through Tabula. Please note that this excludes weekends and other days when the University is closed. You will receive a notification when your mark is available in Tabula. All assessment and results are only provisional and will not become finalised until after the Exam Board.
Querying of assessed work marks
University regulations state that you may not query a mark awarded on a piece of assessed work or examination on the basis of academic judgement. We will reject any requests by students to have their work reviewed on the basis that they disagree with the marker’s evaluation of their performance. You are entitled to approach the module leader or lecturer to discuss your performance in the assessment, but not to lobby for a re-mark. We will, however, allow a student who believes that the marks for a piece of work in a module run by the Department of Economics have been totalled incorrectly, to request an arithmetic check on the paper. The Department has the right, after such an arithmetic check, to adjust the mark upwards or downwards.
Should you wish to request an arithmetic check of your marks for an assessment, please complete an Assessed Work Mark Check form and submit it, together with the marked copy of the assessed work in question, to the Postgraduate Office within seven working days of the date the assessment feedback was published.
We will then carry out a check of the marks. If no discrepancy is found, you will be advised of this. You will be advised that there is no right to a further check or questioning of marks. Should a discrepancy be discovered, we will calculate the correct mark for the work and adjust this on our systems. You will then be contacted to collect your work, which will have the corrected mark annotated on it.
Feedback on your assessed work
Learning is a dynamic process and feedback plays an important role in helping you to develop your knowledge and build confidence in your own abilities. Therefore our aim is to provide you with as much feedback as is reasonably achievable, given the volume of students taught on any module. The Department takes very seriously the provision of feedback on assessed work. We are sensitive to the importance of this and have mechanisms in place to enhance the quality of the feedback on assessed work.
You will receive a written evaluation of your coursework on a range of relevant criteria including comprehension, analysis, critique and presentation. You may also receive written comments in the margins of your work. These should enable you to understand the basis of the mark you have been given and how you may improve your work in the future. You will also find the mark you received on Tabula.
Where relevant, the lecturer will provide generic feedback about what was expected, together with reflections on what students typically did well or where they might have struggled. You may also be provided with a mark distribution for the assessment (modules with 40 or more students).
Occasionally, you will receive paper feedback on your work. The Postgraduate Office will announce days/times for the collection of specific pieces of assessed work. The Department does not accept responsibility for work which is not collected by students within four term-time weeks of its being made available for collection.
If you are not satisfied with the quality of the feedback you have received, you should approach the module lecturer or tutor. However, prior to doing this, you must be able to demonstrate that you have reviewed your personal feedback, and any generic feedback, and reflected on both through re-reading your work. You are also advised to make use of Advice and Feedback hours to further discuss your feedback, noting, however, that markers are not permitted to re-read your assessment. If you still need more information, go to the Postgraduate Office, who will forward your request for more feedback to the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees).
Other types of feedback
There are many channels through which we aim to give feedback other than at the point of returning assessed work. Here are some of the different ways in which we provide you with feedback throughout your MSc course:
Solutions: Tests/problem sets may have a set of written solutions, which you should use to work back over the test paper and learn from any mistakes.
Module Support and Feedback Classes: These feedback sessions are a prime opportunity to ask questions and generate discussion. Most classes are based on exercises or problem sets which should be prepared in advance. Time during classes is given to working through answers so that you can see what you did well and what less well. The solutions/guidance provided in class are an invaluable source of feedback. We try to keep the number of students in a class as small as possible so that each student’s needs can be accommodated.
Advice and Feedback Hours: These are an opportunity for you to meet with your lecturers and tutors on a one-to-one basis and receive invaluable feedback and guidance or simply discuss interesting topics.
Email: Tutors and lecturers are accessible by email to receive and respond to individual questions. Lecturers are often available at the end of lectures to respond to questions.
Past student performance: The performance of previous cohorts is given on each module webpage.
If you wish to have feedback on more general issues beyond module-specific questions, feedback can be obtained from a variety of sources, including the Postgraduate Office, the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees), your Personal Tutor and the Director of Academic and Pastoral Support.
Feedback and concerns
We want to reassure you that the marking and moderation for all our assessments is fair, consistent, robust and reliable and hence give you confidence that when you receive a mark, the mark has been arrived at following a detailed and rigorous process.
If you have any concerns or feedback about the assessment process then please contact the Postgraduate Teaching and Learning Manager (Taught Degrees) in the first instance. Please see Section 5 for further information on your feedback to us and raising concerns.
In University Regulation 11, ‘cheating’ is defined as ‘an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud. This shall include reproducing one’s own work or the work of another person or persons without proper acknowledgement.’
We define plagiarism as a specific form of cheating, and some examples of plagiarism are:
- reproducing ideas from another published work without citing the source
- reproducing words from another published work without quotation marks and a citation of the source
- copying another student’s work and pretending it is yours, with or without their permission, and whether they are a present or past student at this or any other university
- including sections from a piece of work that you have submitted previously at Warwick or another institution, including school
- downloading part or all of a document or ready-made essay from an internet website and pretending it is your own work.
Plagiarism will be penalised, and penalties are severe. Some forms of plagiarism are more easily concealed and therefore harder to detect. The effort taken to conceal plagiarism will usually be taken as evidence of the perpetrator’s intention. Therefore, the greater the effort, the more severe the punishment when it is detected.
We now make extensive use of the Turnitin plagiarism detection service. This web-based service allows us to submit student assignments for comparison with working papers, existing theses, published sources, web pages and other students’ work. The software produces extremely detailed reports.
Departmental plagiarism procedure
If a marker decides that he or she suspects plagiarism in a piece of coursework, he or she will report it to the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees), or his/her deputy. A review of the work will take place, and you will be invited to a meeting to discuss the work and the allegation. The Director will then make a recommendation to the Head of the Department about whether plagiarism has occurred and the penalty to be exacted. Where the Head of Department decides an offence has occurred and exacts a penalty, there are a number of different types of penalty available to the Department, with a maximum penalty of a mark of zero on the relevant piece of assessed work. Alternatively, the Head may report the matter to the Academic Registrar for consideration by an Investigating Committee of Senate. If the Committee finds an offence has been committed it has the power to impose a mark of zero for the entire module unit or some more severe penalty. At each point you have rights of representation and defence which are described in Regulation 11.
It should also be noted that the Investigating Committee can, and does, refer serious cases of cheating on to the Discipline Committee. The Discipline Committee can impose further penalties, including the termination of your registration at the University.
What if I am accused of plagiarism, but wish to appeal?
If you are accused of plagiarism, the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees) will give you the opportunity to make representations before a decision is taken. Please note that if the Department finds that you have committed plagiarism, but you believe the Department's decision to be incorrect, you have the right to refer the matter to the Investigating Committee. A meeting of the Investigating Committee will then consider the case and take a decision as to whether it believes cheating has taken place or not. If it determines cheating has taken place, the Committee will decide on an appropriate penalty, which may or may not be the penalty previously imposed by the Department. Students have the right to appeal against the decision/s of the Investigating Committee, but only on very specific grounds: please see Regulation 11 (6) and Regulation 11(10).
It is important for you to avoid even the suspicion of plagiarism or cheating in your assessed work. The best way is to ensure that you adhere to good practice. Usually this means that when you first take notes from a book or article you should be careful to preserve the details of author, title, date, and page numbers. Such precision is an important transferable skill in itself, and shows that you are acquiring a professional approach. The Library offers an online Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism Skills Tutorial. This helps you to understand what to reference and how to reference as well as understanding what is meant by plagiarism.
Students who lack confidence in writing sometimes prefer copying or quoting from the textbook to expressing ideas in their own words. Why should they use their own words when somebody else’s words are better? Such students do not intend to cheat. They escape serious consequences by scattering quotation marks and references - sometimes, in large quantities. The marker cannot detect plagiarism, but is uneasy because it is not clear that the student has done more than some intelligent cutting and pasting. It is impossible to be sure that the student has an independent understanding of the topic. Such work may pass, but will not get a good mark.
Copying out lecture notes is something we would especially discourage. Notes provided by lecturers should be only a starting point of your research, not your finishing point. Again, work based largely on lecture notes will not get a good mark.
Discussing your work with your colleagues can be a positive and fruitful learning experience. Often it is enhanced by showing your colleagues what you have done. However, there is no good reason for another student to ask to borrow a disk or file on which your essay or project work is recorded. If your work is copied by another student, and the copying is detected, you lay yourself open to accusations of abetting or colluding with their cheating, or even of engaging in cheating yourself.
Collaboration, or working cooperatively with other students, is an excellent way of acquiring knowledge and testing your understanding of it. Teamwork enables you to cover material more quickly and more efficiently. Having to explain things to others clarifies them and fixes them in your mind. But collaboration can give rise to two concerns. Sometimes students fear that collaboration may lead to accusations of plagiarism, in the sense of passing off others’ work as your own. We think there is a clear distinction between the co-operative acquisition of knowledge and the copying of another’s work and submitting it as your own. If you find yourself in a situation where co-operation with another student has become so close that you find yourselves working towards a joint result, discuss it with your tutor before submitting your work.
Other forms of cheating
Plagiarism and collusion are just two forms of cheating. There are, of course, other kinds, such as cheating in tests or exams. This can take several forms, some of which are listed below:
- concealing information on or near your person during a test or exam and then referring to this information during the test or exam
- by using electronic devices to retrieve information in a test or exam
- copying another student’s work or communicating with other students in a test or exam
- arranging for another student to take a test or exam on your behalf.
The above list is not exhaustive and any form of cheating can and will be punished by the University. As with plagiarism, the penalties for cheating in a test or exam can be severe.
Suspected instances of cheating in an exam will be referred to the Academic Registrar and on to the Investigating Committee of the Senate. If an invigilator suspects a student of cheating in an exam, the invigilator should let the student know that they will be submitting a report to the Academic Registrar. Once the invigilator has warned the student that a report will be made, the student will be allowed to complete the exam. Please refer to the University’s Regulation 11 for more information.
Cheating in a class test is dealt within the Department, but may be passed onto the Academic Registrar and the Investigating Committee. If an invigilator suspects you of cheating in a class test, the invigilator should let you know that they will be submitting a report to the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees). Once the invigilator has warned you that a report will be made, you will be allowed to complete the test. The investigative process and penalties are then the same as those set out for plagiarism and other forms of cheating in coursework.
Where should I go for advice on these matters?
If you have read all of the above and are still not sure what constitutes plagiarism, collusion or other forms of cheating, you should seek advice in good time from the module leader, your module tutor, or your Personal Tutor. For advice on the Department’s Plagiarism Procedure, please refer to the Department’s Quality Assurance Manager.
Dissertation guidelines for MSc Economics and MSc Economics and International Financial Economics
The main aim of the dissertation is to encourage independent study and to provide a foundation for future original research. In terms of learning, the dissertation should provide you with a number of research skills, including the ability to:
- Define a feasible project allowing for time and resource constraints
- Develop an adequate methodology
- Make optimal use of library resources
- Access data bases, understand their uses and limitations and extract relevant data
- Work without the need for continuous supervision
Timetable for Summer Term
Midnight Friday 12 April 2019
Deadline for submission of proposed title of dissertation and prospective supervisors online form.
Friday 17 May 2019
MSc dissertation supervisors announced.
Friday 30 May 2019
Deadline for submitting ethical scrutiny form (if applicable).
Monday 3 June — Friday 14 June 2019
During this period supervisors will arrange for all supervisees to give short presentations of their ideas in a group session.
Monday 24 June 2019
Deadline for submitting Dissertation Proposal by e-submission.
Wednesday 11 September 2019
Dissertation submission deadline for MSc in Economics and MSc in Economics and International Financial Economics.
Wednesday 11 March 2020
Dissertation submission deadline (for resit candidates).
Topic selection and allocation of supervisors
Your first task is to determine your dissertation topic and three possible supervisors. Topics will be suggested by module lecturers, especially on the optional modules, and by members of faculty. Dissertation Research Methods in the Spring Term features lectures that explicitly direct you to sources of inspiration. Alternatively, you may already know the topic you wish to pursue. A word of advice: it is critical that you choose a topic that you are really interested in and not something that you think sounds good.
Information on potential supervisors will be made available in a spreadsheet, which gives you a list of all supervisors available for 2018-2019, along with their main areas of interest and their suggested dissertation topics. Alternatively, you can browse the staff personal web pages for information, or approach members of staff directly with your research ideas.
Once you have decided on a topic and some possible supervisors, you should go to the online form on the dissertations webpage. On this form, you are asked to indicate:
(i) your three most preferred supervisors in order of preference
(ii) your thesis title, and
(iii) a short (max 200 words) description of your planned research. This form must be submitted by Friday 12 April 2019 (week 28).
If you already have an agreement with a supervisor that s/he will supervise you, put them down as first choice and also ask them to email the Postgraduate Office; email@example.com confirming this.
By the end of week 33 of the Summer Term i.e. Friday 17 May 2019, all students will be allocated supervisors. This allocation is based on the information given in the online form, and we do our best to match you with one of your preferred supervisors.
Changes in title must be agreed with the supervisor. A request for a change in supervisor must be made directly to the Director of Graduate Studies (Taught Degrees). Changes will only be made if both original and new supervisor agree.
The role of the supervisor
The role of the supervisor is:
- to advise you on the feasibility of your chosen topic and ways of refining it
- to provide some references to the general methodology to be used
- to provide general guidance to the literature review and analysis of the chosen topic.
Supervision will take place mainly or entirely during the summer term. This means that both you and your supervisor need to use the time efficiently. The role of the supervisor during the summer term is to help you develop your dissertation proposal and then to mark and provide feedback on your proposal. During the summer vacation the expectation is that you will be working independently and your supervisor’s role will be to read and make some comments on a final draft of your work.
Additional support to develop research skills
In the Spring Term and Summer Terms we run Research Methods lectures and workshops to equip you with the necessary skills required for research and help to prepare you for your dissertation. The weekly sessions will explain the dissertation process, how to select your topic, what makes a good dissertation, how to complete literature reviews and identify your data. We will continue to build on you skills in econometrics packages with lectures on STATA and MatLab. Library dissertation training sessions will explain available resources and how to access databases. We also arrange lectures and workshops on academic writing skills. A detailed schedule for the lectures and workshops will be announced in the Spring Term.
We provide weekly surgeries run by PhD students in the summer term and vacation to help answer queries about your topic and deal with software and econometric problems. Full details of this facility will be circulated in week 34 of the Summer Term.
It is very important that you identify appropriate data source(s) for your dissertation if you are doing an empirical topic, and you should discuss the availability of sources with your supervisor an early stage.
Some organisations will only supply data on the condition that it would be stored on the Department's secure servers and that the Department would take legal responsibility for it. Unfortunately, the Department is unable to meet these conditions, and in this situation you would need to use an alternative data source.
Please also be aware that the Department does not typically pay for data sets or cover other costs relating to MSc dissertation data collection (for example, surveys). Therefore, please identify data that are already available or can be acquired free of change. Our Economics Academic Support Librarian, Helen Riley, is happy to help you find the information you need for your research, show you how to use specific resources, or discuss any other issues you might have (Helen.Riley@warwick.ac.uk).
At Warwick, any research, including dissertations for Masters degrees, that involves direct contact with participants, through their physical participation in research activities (invasive and non-invasive participation, including surveys or personal data collection conducted by any means), that indirectly involves participants through their provision of data or tissue, or that involves people on behalf of others (e.g. parents on behalf of children), requires ethical scrutiny.
Note that your research does not require ethical scrutiny if it does not involve direct or indirect contact with participants. For example, most research involving previously existing datasets where individual-level information is not provided, or where individuals are not identified, or using historical records, does not require ethical scrutiny, and this is likely to include most research conducted in the Department. Research involving laboratory or field experiments, or the collection of new individual level survey data, always requires ethical scrutiny.
It is your responsibility to seek the necessary scrutiny and approval, and if in doubt, you must consult your supervisor.
If your research work requires ethical scrutiny and approval, checks are conducted within the Department in line with rules approved by the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee. Please consult with your supervisor and complete the Department’s form for ethical approval of student research.
The form should be submitted to the Postgraduate Office by Friday 31 May 2019 (week 35).
The dissertation proposal
There are two parts to the dissertation proposal: a presentation and a written proposal.
First, you will be required to present your proposed topic to your supervisor and fellow students in a group. This will help you focus your ideas, especially via feedback from other students and your supervisor. The presentations should take the following format:
- You will have 10-15 minutes each, comprising your 5-10 minute presentation followed by five minutes of discussion and comment.
- The presentation should either use Powerpoint or PDF.
- You must identify the title of your proposed research, the research objective, the data and any computing/statistical tools required (for example, Stata).
- The research objective should be briefly expanded into a justification of why you want to study this question — why is it important followed by a short description of what you intend to do.
- One slide is adequate for covering related literature.
Then, based on your presentation and any feedback you receive, you have to write a detailed dissertation proposal to include a literature review and research plan. This should be a maximum length of 1,000 words excluding all appendices, footnotes, tables and the bibliography.
Please note that your supervisor will not comment on a draft of your proposal before you submit it.
The dissertation proposal will be assessed and carries a mark worth 20% of the mark for the dissertation module as a whole. The deadline is Monday 24 June 2019 and you should submit your proposal electronically via Tabula.
The dissertation itself should be a maximum length of 8,000 words, excluding appendices, footnotes, tables and the bibliography. The dissertation is worth 80% of the total mark for the dissertation module. There is no minimum word length and concise expositions are encouraged.
The first page of the dissertation itself should include the title, your name, date and any preface and acknowledgements. We have no particular preference for how you format your dissertation, but detailed guidance on content and presentation will be given in the Dissertation Research Methods sessions.
References should be collected at the back in alphabetical order and should contain sufficient detail to allow them to be followed up if required: at a minimum you should cite author, date of publication, title of book or article, journal of publication or book publishing company.
The type of the dissertation should be double-spaced, font size 12, with wide margins. We recommend that you use Microsoft Word or Scientific Word, both of which can easily insert equations. Pages must be numbered.
Deadlines and extensions
There will be two deadlines each year for MSc dissertations. The September deadline applies to all MSc students who have passed their examinations at the first attempt and are not taking any resits. The March deadline will be for those students who are doing resits in September, and for those who may have asked for an extension due to mitigating circumstances. Students who are doing one resit and are able to hand in their dissertation for the September deadline will be permitted to do so, on the understanding that this is done at their own risk and the dissertation will not be considered if the resit is failed. In the case of two resits, we strongly advise you to defer your dissertation until March of the following year. However, if you really feel you have to do your dissertation over the summer, for example, because you are going straight to a job, or for other reasons, you must discuss the situation with your supervisor, and obtain his/her agreement. If you have failed or missed three or more exams, we require you to defer the writing of your dissertation until after the September exams, without any exceptions.
If you cannot make your September or March deadline due to medical, or other mitigating circumstances, you must fill in an extension request form, available on Tabula. If your application is approved, you will be permitted to submit your dissertation by the agreed extension date or the next biannual deadline (either March or September). You need to supply suitable medical or other evidence within one week of submitting the extension request. The evidence you provide should cover a substantial part of the dissertation period detailing why you were unable to work on the dissertation - extensions for low-level and short-term illnesses will not be granted. Note also that extensions will not be granted on the basis of a student being in full- or part-time employment.
Submitting your dissertation
Your MSc dissertation, programmes and data must be submitted electronically via Tabula e-submission under module code EC959. At the same time you must also submit a completed Dissertation Submission Form. No paper copies of your dissertation are required.
Please note that we reserve the right to ask to see further details of your data and any econometric and other programmes you have used to analyse it. So, we advise you to keep electronic copies of data and programs (including do-files if applicable) until after the Exam Board has met.
Assessment and feedback
To achieve at least a pass, a dissertation must demonstrate a high level of competence in both analysis and expression. This can be achieved in several ways, for instance by:
- Providing a critical survey of some area of the subject. This should be written in such a way as to take the non-specialist reader from the beginnings of the topic up to the frontiers. It should integrate and synthesise existing ideas, demonstrate the relationships between them and assess their significance. It is not enough to simply catalogue previous work. However lengthy the bibliography is, a dissertation which shows no deep grasp of the motivation, content and structure of the literature will fail. Though ‘originality’ in the sense of a demonstrable theoretical or empirical innovation is not required in order to pass, it is expected that some degree of original thought will be needed to place the ideas of others in a coherent setting
- Applying techniques developed by others to a data-set not previously used for that purpose, with a clear motivation for doing so
- Examining the robustness of an existing theoretical model to changes in its underlying assumptions, with a clear motivation for doing so
At least two examiners will assess your dissertation, employing the criteria described elsewhere in this handbook. No feedback on the result of your dissertation is possible until after the Exam Board meets in November 2019, when your mark and comments will be provided through Tabula. Second markers are not required to write comments, though they can do so if they wish. If the second marker does write comments these can be included separately or they can be combined into a joint report.
Research project guidelines for MSc Behavioural and Economic Science
You will carry out novel research in the area of behavioural science. You will work within one of the departments’ labs, designing and running independent empirical work that addresses a current research question. You will have the support of experts in the field and will produce research suitable for publication in an international journal.
- 30 CATS
- Empirical (that is an experiment, computer program, survey or observational study)
- Physically safe and ethically acceptable (conform to the British Psychological Society Code of Conduct)
- Practical in terms of demands on time, equipment, number of subjects required and laboratory space.
Topic selection and supervision arrangements
Potential research project topics will be provided in the Spring Term. When the topics are published, please do contact supervisors. You will indicate your project preferences via an online form, with projects allocated centrally.
You must read the British Psychological Society Code of Human Research Ethics. If you are conducting research using the internet, you must also read the British Psychological Society guidelines on internet mediated research. Both documents can be found on the BPS website.
At Warwick, any research that involves direct contact with participants, through their physical participation in research activities (invasive and non-invasive participation), that indirectly involves participants through their provision of data or tissue and that involves people on behalf of others (e.g. parents on behalf of children) requires ethical scrutiny. It is your and your supervisor’s joint responsibility to ensure that ethical approval is secured, and this should take place very early in the Summer Term.
Note that your research does not require ethical scrutiny if it does not involve direct or indirect contact with participants. For example, most research involving previously existing datasets where individual-level information is not provided, or where individuals are not identified, or using historical records, does not require ethical scrutiny. But almost all field, lab, and online studies will require ethical approval.
If you consider that ethical approval is necessary, please consult with your supervisor and complete the relevant department’s form for ethical approval of student research.
Format and submission
Projects might typically contain one or two experiments or a significant econometric analysis of a large data set. The research in the report should be of a publishable standard. This normally means that the research is relevant and innovative, that there are no major methodological flaws and that the conclusions are appropriate.
With your supervisor choose an appropriate target journal. The formatting of the dissertation must be as for submission to your target journal. Write up your report following the journal submission guidelines. Include on the front page of your report the name of the journal you select. Avoid writing in a more generic 'thesis style' as you may have done for past projects.
Project reports, excluding appendices, should not exceed 20,000 words, and should normally be much shorter. Your target journal may well have a word or page limit which you should follow.
Appendices of test material, raw data, protocols, etc. need not be submitted with your project, but copies of these materials must be given to your supervisor (see below).
No paper copies are required. Please submit online through Tabula as a PDF.
You must retain all of the data that you collect. You must submit all of your data directly to your supervisor when you submit your project. Ideally, you should also submit R scripts (or another language) for the complete analysis of your data.
Deadlines and extensions
There will be two deadlines each year for MSc projects. The first will be in August and the second one will be in March. The August deadline will be for all MSc students who have passed their examinations at the first attempt and are not taking any resits. The March deadline will be for those students who are doing resits in September and for those who may have asked for an extension due to mitigating circumstances. Students who are doing one resit and are able to hand in their project for the August deadline will be permitted to do so, on the understanding that this is done at their own risk and the project will not be considered if the resit is failed. In the case of two resits, our advice is that you defer your dissertation until March of the following year.
If you cannot make your August or March deadline due to medical, or other mitigating circumstances, you must fill in an extension request form, available on Tabula. If an application is approved, the student will be permitted to submit their dissertation by the agreed extension date or the next biannual deadline (either March or August). You need to supply suitable medical or other evidence within one week of submitting the extension request. The evidence you provide should cover a substantial part of the dissertation period detailing why you were unable to work on the dissertation: extensions for low-level and short-term illnesses will not be granted. Note also that extensions will not be granted on the basis of a student being in full- or part-time employment.
References should be in the style of your target journal. Minimally they should contain the author, date of publication, title of book or article, journal of publication and volume or book publishing company. Almost all journals are very specific about referencing. If there is no guidance (very unlikely) follow the APA conventions.
Assessment is based upon the project report. In assessing reports, some of the points markers will have in mind are:
- How well has the student been able to formulate the research question or hypothesis and establish why it is an important question to ask? How precise is the hypothesis?
- How well does the student know relevant theoretical and empirical literature and can they frame the research question in the light of such literature?
- How clearly has the student described the design and procedure of the investigation and specified the subject sample(s) investigated? (Could the reader replicate the investigation on the basis of the information given?)
- How clearly and how thoroughly has the student been able to describe and analyse the data obtained? How well does the student understand the logic of descriptive and inferential statistics? Can the student explore findings intelligently and not simply number-crunch?
- How well does the student interpret the findings in relation to the original rationale for the investigation? How aware is the student of limitations in the design of the investigation (also important for meta-analysis and analysis of existing data sets) or in the way the research question was formulated? How well can the student point to what might next be done in the light of what has been learned from the investigation?
- What is the overall quality of writing, presentation, organisation and attention to detail?
At least two examiners will assess your project, employing the criteria described elsewhere in this handbook. No feedback on the result of your project is possible until after the Exam Board meets in November 2019, when your mark and comments will be provided through Tabula. Second markers are not required to write comments, though they can do so if they wish. If the second marker does write comments these can be included separately or they can be combined into a joint report.