SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Independent Study Project In Economics

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

The Independent Study Project (ISP)  in Economics is a 10.000 word essay (dissertation) on an approved topic in economics. The ISP gives students the opportunity to develop, implement and write up an independent research project on a topic of their choosing under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Students learn how to ask a pertinent question and how to go about answering it through research and writing. Research for an ISP in Economics may be based on original theoretical analysis and synthesis of secondary materials, on original fieldwork, on the critical analysis of statistical data, or on the critical evaluation and analysis of primary documentary sources.

The ISP in Economics is open to students of the BSc Economics, the BSc Development Economics and the two-subject BA in Economics in the final year of their undergraduate degree studies.

Preparation and approval of an ISP proposal

Students who would like to pursue the option of an ISP in Economics in their final year can select the course through pre-registration. After the end of course signup, those students who selected an ISP will be sent an ISP Proposal Form. The completed and signed ISP Proposal Form has to be submitted NO LATER THAN BY THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK OF TERM 1 OF THE FINAL YEAR of their studies. The ISP Proposal Form will have to include a title and a short synopsis (max. 300 words). The ISP form has to be signed also by the prospective ISP supervisor.

The ISP course convenor will then meet with interested students on an individual basis to discuss the feasibility of their research idea and topic and to suggest suitable supervisors.  Following this initial meeting, students are expected to consult potential supervisors to further discuss and develop their ISP proposal, and to obtain an agreement to supervise their planned ISP from a potential supervisor.

Final approval of an ISP in Economics by the ISP course convenor will take place between the start of enrolment week and the deadline for changes to a student’s course sign-up in the relevant academic year. Final approval will depend on the attainment of an average 65% grade in the second year of studies (or the third year for students enrolled in a four-year undergraduate degree course), and on an appropriate supervision arrangement being in place by the start of the academic year, in which students wish to undertake the ISP in Economics.

It is therefore very important that students wishing to undertake an ISP in Economics, and who have followed the above procedure, make an appointment with the ISP course convenor during enrolment week of their final year, or in the two weeks following this, to OBTAIN FINAL APPROVAL for their ISP.


Students wishing to undertake an ISP in Economics must have attained an average grade of at least 65% in year two of their studies (or in year three for students enrolled in a four-year undergraduate degree course).  Prerequisite courses for admission to an ISP are:

(153400123) Macroeconomic Analysis


(153400130) Microeconomic Analysis

(Note: For BSc Economics and BSc Development Economics students both these courses are core courses in year 2 of their degrees, but BA two-subject degree students can only take EITHER of these two courses in their year 2)

In addition, approval of an ISP proposal is conditional on the availability of appropriate supervision. Please note that the ISP course convenor cannot assign supervisors to individual students. Instead, students wishing to undertake an ISP in Economics are required to consult potential supervisors with guidance from the ISP course convenor.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of an ISP in Economic students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate a substantial understanding of a key issue, topic or theme relating to economic theory or policy
  2. to plan, develop and present a coherent and structured written argument on a key issue, topic or theme relating to economic theory or policy
  3. effectively gather, synthesize and employ relevant empirical and theoretical materials in support of their written argument
  4. demonstrate their capacity to work independently under the guidance of an academic supervisor
  5. show that they understand and have followed good academic research practice and have achieved a good level of competence in academic writing.

Method of assessment

The method of assessment is 100% coursework, consisting of a 10,000 word dissertation due on the first Friday of Term 3. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules