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MSc Economics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Topics in Applied Economics

Unit code ECON60482
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Economics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The aim of this course is to equip students with the tools necessary to understand and evaluate applied economic research, and lay a foundation upon which they can develop and carry out their own high quality research. Students will learn the importance of causal identification. The course will combine the discussion of different econometric methods used by economists to identify causal relationships with the analysis of specific applications of those methods to a number of topics in applied microeconomics. The methods covered will include randomised control trials, difference-indifferences, regression discontinuity and instrumental variables. The applications will be drawn from various fields, including labour economics, political economy, health economics, and development economics. Students will also learn how to use econometric software (Stata) in order to apply the techniques covered in practice.






Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the students will have a solid understanding of different empirical methodologies used in applied economics research and will be capable of applying that toolkit to the types of questions they will encounter in public sector work, economic consultancies, private firms or in further research projects. They will also be comfortable performing data analysis using Stata. Students will work on a referee report, a paper replication project, and a research proposal where they will apply the concepts and techniques developed in class.



A preliminary list of topics includes:

  1. Importance of identifying causal relationships
  2. Descriptive data analysis with an application from labour economics
  3. Randomised control trials with an application from development economics
  4. Differences-in-differences with an application from health economics  
  5. Instrumental variables estimation with an application from labour economics 
  6. Regression discontinuity design with applications from political economy and public economics 


Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and tutorials

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written exam 50%
Final Exam: 50%
Research Proposal: 25%
Replication Project: 15%
Referee Report: 10%

Recommended reading

The primary text for the course will be: 

“Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion” by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke (2008), Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691120355.

Although some of the technical aspects included in the book will be covered in class, the focus will be predominantly on the intuition behind the different econometric methods and their applicability in answering different research questions.

The vast majority of the reading will come from published research papers provided by the lecturer during the course


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edward Manderson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Lecture: Monday 1pm-3pm,
Tutorial: Wednesday 4-5pm,

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