Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institute of Economic Policy I

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | School of Business and Economics | Institute of Economic Policy I | Teaching | Diplom | Regarding Diploma-Thesis at the Institute for Economic Policy

Regarding Diploma-Thesis at the Institute for Economic Policy

If you plan to write a master thesis at the Institute for Economic Policy or if you wish to receive information about the possibilities, please note the following. click here to get a short description

1. Provide a note to the secretary, that you may plan to write a master thesis at this institute. Provide a printout of your grades from the "Prüfungsamt" (a copy will do). Optionally, include a short note (up to one page), indicating the themes or topics which might be of interest to you. You should have taken "Quantitative Macroeconomics and Numerical Methods I, II", or (NEW!), starting with fall 2005, the new set of courses "Introduction to Advanced Macroeconomic Analysis" (in fall 2005: taught by Prof. Burda) followed by "Quantitative Macroeconomics and Numerical Methods" taught in the summer semester.  The course "Introduction to Advanced Macroeconomic Analysis" can be replaced with "Quantitative Macroeconomics and Numerical Methods I" taken prior to fall 2005. Therefore, provide a note, stating when you took these courses, or explain why you nonetheless wish to write a master thesis at this institute, despite not having taken these classes. One week or two later, inquire with the secretary about the supervisor assigned to you. You may also be turned down at that point, if the necessary requirements are not given.

2. Next and reasonably soon afterwards, speak to your assigned supervisor during his or her office hour to discuss possible topics for your master thesis. Between this conversation and the official assignment of the topic via the "Prüfungsamt"-form, no more than 30 days should elapse, unless you have received a written permission by your supervisor, possibly setting another deadline. In case you do not visit your assigned supervisor or in case you do not return within the assigned 30-day period to officially register your topic, there will be no future possibility to write a master thesis at this Institute. With this rule, we aim at avoiding a "prisoners dilemma", in which all students end up having to spend extra preparation time.

3. For your official registration of your topic, see your assigned supervisor and bring the official "Prüfungsamt"-Form with you to assign the topic and to have the form signed, etc.. From then on, you have 3 months time to finish your master thesis. Which help you may need should be discussed with your supervisor.

4. The master thesis should have between 60 and 80 pages, including all graphics, tables, etc.. The master thesis should be answering some economic question. This provides the "red thread" running through the thesis. Everything in the thesis must serve answering the question. Anything that does not also does not belong there. To provide an answer usually means to choose a particular method. The answer therefore should not be viewed as holding universally, but is always conditional on the underlying method used. Nonetheless, you should argue stringently and convincingly that yours is a good way to proceed.

5. The master thesis should have the following structure.

i) "Executive Summary" or "Abstract", up to one page. You should state your question, your answer and the "milestones" of your argument tightly and succinctly so that someone who does not read the rest of your thesis can have a clear idea of what it is that you show or achieve in your thesis.

ii) "Introduction": 1 to 4 pages. Here, you state your question and motivate it, you provide the answer, you provide an overview and short explanation of the method and steps taken to get to your answer, and you provide a short link to the existing literature. Finally, you provide a critical review of the achieved results. Provide references to the appropriate sections in the body of the thesis.

iii) "Literature". Here you should list, discuss and relate to the relevant existing literature. The current state of knowledge should clearly emerge as well as the progress achieved in your thesis compared to the state of art. An in-depth description of a key model from the literature, on which you are building for the rest of the thesis, might also belong here. Please refer to sources as, say, Uhlig (1999) or Uhlig (1999b), with a list of all sources appearing in part (xi).

iv) "Facts" or "Theory". If your thesis proceeds mainly on the basis of theoretical models, you should provide the key facts here which your model tries to capture or which are of key relevance for your theory. If your thesis proceeds mainly empirically, you should provide the (microeconomic or macroeconomic) theoretical basis for your empirical approach.

v) "The Model". Here, introduce, precisely define and explain your model. Motivate, why this model in particular is well-suited for answering the given question.

vi) "Model Analysis". The model will only be analyzed here. Calculations of derivatives and other intermediate steps belong here, not in part (iv).

vii) "Model Results and Answer". Provide a list or summary of your results and explain them. Provide intuition for the achieved insights! Please note that you are not asked to provide a long sequence of all results found, but rather to provide results which help answering the given question. Answer that question.

viii) "Variations". Possibly further models or variations. Use the same structure as above, although usually shorter.

ix) "Discussion" . Summarize your answer, your arguments and the intuition behind it, based on the analysis provided. Discuss critically, in how far your answer is "reasonable", i.e. in how far your analysis provides the right core argument or whether key aspects are left out. Are you convinced by your own answer? What else could be tried?

x) "Summary and Concluding Remarks". Here you should restate your question, your answer and the main steps of the analysis and possibilities for extension. This part will be rather similar to your introduction, except that it is now all "proven" by the analysis in between.

xi) "References". Here, you provide a list of all sources and literature, which you are referring to in your thesis or which you have made use of for writing the thesis, in alphabetical sequence of the first author.

xii) "Appendix". Here, you can provide additional results or details, etc.., which do not logically or coherently in the main text, or which would water down the argument there. Generally, put the key graphs and tables etc. into the main text. Tedious, but not particularly insightful calculations can be put here.

6. Please be very precise with the sources used. Direct quotes must be visitble as such, using quotation marks ("This is a quote") and precisely providing the source. A summary in your own words of results obtained in the literature or a reproduction of a graph should be clearly indicated as such. It must be clear, which results you have obtained yourself and which results are already available essentially in the form provided in the literature. Ignoring this rule can lead to suspected plagiarism. In case of plagiarism, you will receive the worst possible grade, and further consequences may be drawn. Do not bring yourself and us into this unpleasant situation!

7. Handing in your master thesis. The master thesis needs to be handed in at the Prüfungsamt before or on the deadline. Please follow the rules of the Prüfungsamt in this matter. Additionally, we ask that you provide the institute with a CD-ROM, containing your master thesis as a source file (e.g. a .tex-file or a .doc-file. We recommend writing the master thesis in LaTeX, using LaTeX, MiKTeX or Scientific Word) as well as a .pdf-file, all data and programmes used and perhaps key literature sources as .pdf-files (unless copyrights are violated). For the conversion into a .pdf-file, you can receive help from the student assistants at the institute, if need be. Please provide information on what you will do after receiving your masters and how you can be contacted in the future by e-mail. Please provide a note in case you do not wish to have your master thesis posted on the net. Otherwise we will post your master thesis as a .pdf-file on the internet, together with contact details and next position, see