ECN305 Research Methods in Economics

Credits (ECTS):5

Course responsible:Kine Josefine Aurland-Bredesen

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:125 hours

Teaching and exam period:The course starts in the Autumn paraallel. The course has teaching/assessment in the Autumn parallel.

About this course

The course will cover the following topics: How to find good research questions? How to write a literature review? How to write a thesis and research proposal? In addition, the course will cover: General writing rules; Field research methods; Social science surveys, including sampling, questionnaire design and analysis; Secondary data; Experimental methods; Impact studies; and an Introduction to Stata.

Learning outcome

In this course, students should be able to find and present a researchable topic within economics and to write a research proposal for their thesis. They need to be able to:

  • Demonstrate command of existing knowledge within their research topic and write an integrated literature review of this;
  • Use existing knowledge to explore the issue of interest, formulate researchable research questions and construct hypotheses;
  • Identify relevant data sources, either accessing existing data sources or through a plan to collect their own data and understand the methods used to compile and analyse the data; and
  • Identify appropriate methods to analyse the data to answer the research questions and/or test their hypotheses.
  • Lectures, and short videos for students must watch beforehand to then solve group tasks. Presentations with discussion, and responding to comments provided by peers. Individual supervision while writing the research proposal for the master thesis.
  • Students will be allocated a supervisor for their MSc thesis in the beginning of this course. The supervisors will discuss research topics and give close supervision during the writing of the research proposals. Please note that the project proposal the students conduct in this course might not end up as the problem statement for their master thesis. Hence, the supervisor might be changed in accordance with the changed problem statement.

    For students starting the program during the 2023-24 academic year, a mentoring system will be created to help with the research process during the whole of the program. It works in stages as follows:

    [1] During orientation in August, when new students arrive, students will be asked to write a paragraph stating their research interests (or areas of interest). From this statement of interest, a faculty mentor will be assigned as well as a 2nd year student.

    [2] The faculty member shall provide at least a 2 hour commitment per student, per semester to provide guidance and make suggestions about the possible research, choice of specialization or courses, etc. The student is expected to reach out to the faculty mentor and student mentor.

    [3] During ECN305 faculty members are to be involved during sessions in which the faculty are programmed to be involved: e.g., a session involving "speed dating" in which the faculty can introduce themselves and meet with students; and when the faculty is called upon to present potential thesis topics. This should help pairing potential advisors to students' research proposal.

    [4] In spring of the 2nd year, during the thesis semester, an assembly of M-ECON faculty and students will be arranged whereby 2nd year students present a preliminary version of their thesis. Attendance is mandatory of M-ECON faculty and all M-ECON students.

  • Basic knowledge of economic theory and method, e.g. ECN211 Intermediate Microeconomics - Institutions, Games and Market Failures or ECN210 Intermediate Microeconomics- Consumers, Producers, Market and Welfare and ECN222 Macroeconomics II - Models and Policy, ECN201 Econometrics.

    Only for master students in Applied Economics and Sustainability.

  • A semester assignment (research proposal) is given before the end of the semester and makes up 100% of the final grade (pass/fail). No re-examination.

  • Internal examiners will be used to assess the semester assignment.
  • There will be mandatory group assignments throughout the course. In addition, there will be two individual mandatory activities: (1) a preliminary research proposal; and (2) a Stata exercise. Mandatory activities are valid until the next time the course is offered. All mandatory activities must be approved to pass the final examination.
  • The course is in English. Incoming students can contact student advisors at the School of Economics and Business ( for admission to the course.

    The course gives an introduction to research methods that are relevant for the Master thesis. It is particularly useful for students planning to collect own data, but it also covers research methods more generally. The project description is the first step in the work on the master thesis.

  • Classes during the first 6 weeks of the term (2x2 hours per week).
  • Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse).