1.   Who should write an Honours essay?

The Honours essay option is available to students taking Honours in Economics who have fourth-year standing, overall and major CGPAs of 9.50 or higher, and an interest in pursuing a particular research topic in greater depth than a regular undergraduate course would allow. Students who pursue the Honours essay must have good research and writing skills, and be able to select the topic, conduct the research, and write the essay with a minimum of supervision.

2.   Selection and outline of topic

Students must choose their own topics and are expected to make their selection early in the term prior to their initial enrolment in ECON 4908, the means by which one receives (1.0) credit for the Honours essay. They are, however, encouraged to seek assistance in defining their topics, and should consult with the Undergraduate Supervisor from time to time while doing so. Note that the Honours essay is a two-term research project the first term of which students are not enrolled in any course.

3.   Recommendations for approaching a potential Essay Supervisor

It is the student’s responsibility to find an Essay Supervisor to supervise the writing of the essay. With few exceptions, Essay Supervisors must be regular faculty members in the Department of Economics (see Section 11 below). A potential Supervisor is more likely to respond favourably to a supervision request if the student can show that background research has already been done on a topic and that a preliminary proposal has been drafted. The draft proposal will give the potential Essay Supervisor something concrete to consider. It is understood, of course, that the initial proposal is preliminary, and that there is plenty of room for development of the project in consultation with the Essay Supervisor.

The draft proposal should be about three pages in length and should include:
(a)   a working title;
(b)   a brief description of the issues to be addressed in the essay;
(c)   a brief explanation of the theoretical approach and the empirical methodology, if any, to be used in the essay; and
(d)   a preliminary bibliography.

4.   The Honours essay prospectus

To be eligible for initial enrolment in ECON 4908 for the Fall, Winter, or Summer term, students are required to submit an Honours essay prospectus, pre-approved by their Essay Supervisor, to the Undergraduate Supervisor by the last day of the associated registration period. Note that what precisely constitutes a prospectus is entirely at the discretion of the Essay Supervisor. To be deemed satisfactory, a prospectus must indicate clearly a sufficient degree of progress to make it likely that the student can complete the essay in a single (three-month) term—i.e., the expected work must be about half done. This determination will be made by the Undergraduate Supervisor on the advice of the Essay Supervisor.

Students will be granted permission to enrol in ECON 4908 only if they:
(a)   are registered in an Honours Economics or Applied Economics program;
(b)   have fourth-year standing;
(c)   have overall and major CGPAs of 9.50 or higher;
(d)   have found an acceptable Essay Supervisor; and
(e)   have completed an Honours essay prospectus to the satisfaction of both their Essay Supervisor and the Undergraduate Supervisor.

Note that the foregoing are strict necessary conditions for permission to enrol in ECON 4908—i.e., if any of them are not satisfied, permission will definitely not be granted, and even if all of them are satisfied, permission may still not be granted.

5.   Completion of the essay

Once enrolled in ECON 4908, students will be expected to complete the balance of their essays on their own. They should, however, consult with their Essay Supervisors at least once a month.

Students are required to meet with the Undergraduate Supervisor to report on their progress four to five weeks before the last day for handing in term work (as specified in the Undergraduate Calendar). Subsequent to this meeting and before they have finished their essay, students are also required to find a Second Reader who will assist in the ultimate evaluation of their work. With few exceptions, Second Readers must be regular faculty members in the Department of Economics (see Section 11 below).

6.   Calendar regulations

If a student wishes to graduate at the convocation immediately following a term in which they are enrolled in ECON 4908, the deadline for the submission of the final version of the Honours essay is the last day for handing in term work (as specified in the Undergraduate Calendar). This deadline is necessary to allow ample time for evaluation of the essay before the deadline for the submission of course grades.

If the essay is not submitted by the last day for handing in term work of the first or second term in which a student is enrolled in ECON 4908, the Undergraduate Supervisor will consult with the Essay Supervisor and determine whether an extension is warranted. If it is, a grade of IP (“In Progress”) will be assigned for ECON 4908; if not, a grade of F will be assigned. If an extension has been granted (by the Undergraduate Supervisor) and the essay is not submitted by the last day of the registration period of the subsequent term, the Undergraduate Supervisor will grant the student permission to re-enrol in ECON 4908.

If the essay is not submitted by the last day for handing in term work of the third term in which a student is enrolled in ECON 4908, a grade of F will be assigned.

7.   Plagiarism

The Undergraduate Calendar defines plagiarism as

presenting, whether intentional or not, the ideas, expression of ideas or work of others as one’s own. Plagiarism includes reproducing or paraphrasing portions of someone else’s published or unpublished material, regardless of the source, and presenting these as one’s own without proper citation or reference to the original source. Examples of sources from which the ideas, expressions of ideas or works of others may be drawn from include but are not limited to: books, articles, papers, literary compositions and phrases, performance compositions, chemical compounds, art works, laboratory reports, research results, calculations and the results of calculations, diagrams, constructions, computer reports, computer code/software, and material on the Internet.

The University considers plagiarism to be a serious academic offence. Any student found to have committed plagiarism may be expelled or suspended from all studies at the University.

8.   Guidelines for the final version of the essay


An electronic copy of the Honours essay must be submitted in PDF format to the Undergraduate Administrator, who will then (i) store it appropriately in the shared departmental electronic storage medium, (ii) notify the Administrative Assistant to Chair of having done so, and (iii) forward it to the Undergraduate Supervisor for grading purposes.


Length is no substitute for excellence. As a rough guide, an Honours essay should be 60 to 75 pages long.


The essay must be organized around a specific issue or hypothesis. It must be primarily analytical—as opposed descriptive—in nature. The essay should contain a review of the relevant literature, a theoretical framework, and an analysis of the evidence. Since students can substitute ECON 4908 (Honours Essay) for ECON 4905 (Honours Capstone Seminar) together with an ECON elective to satisfy a core requirement of Honours Economics programs, a satisfactory Honours essay must reflect at least a comparable level of effort and analytical ability as required to obtain a B- in 1.0 credit of 4000-level ECON courses. Thus a minimum grade of B- in ECON 4908 is required.

Research Method

In compiling a bibliography and in taking notes, students will find it helpful to record each source in full (including complete publication details and page references) on separate index cards. This practice will make it unnecessary to find the sources again for foot/endnote references and for the bibliography, and will facilitate final compilation.


Students are strongly advised to obtain, at the University Bookstore or elsewhere, Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition, University of Chicago Press, March 2013. Students may also wish to consult Donald (now Deirdre) McCloskey’s “Economical Writing,” Economic Inquiry, Vol. 24, No. 2 (April 1985), pp. 187–222 or her Economical Writing, Second Edition, Waveland Press, May 1999.

The final version of the essay must be carefully proofread and all errors corrected before it is submitted. An essay with mistakes of fact, in grammar, or in spelling will not be accepted, but will be returned to the student for revision. Submission deadlines will not be extended for this purpose.

Notes must be placed either at the bottom of each page or at the end of each chapter. The title page must appear as it does in each of the completed essays linked to from Section 14 below. Your student number should not appear anywhere in the essay.

9.   Evaluation

The Undergraduate Supervisor will transmit the electronic copy of the essay received from the Undergraduate Administrator to both the Essay Supervisor and the Second Reader separately.

The Essay Supervisor and the Second Reader will grade the essay independently and in a timely manner, and then each will communicate his or her suggested grade, along with any comments he or she may have, to the Undergraduate Supervisor directly. If the Second Reader’s grade is the same as the Essay Supervisor’s, it will be assigned for ECON 4908. If not, the former’s comments will be forwarded to the latter along with a query as to whether he or she wishes to change his or her grade in the light of them. If not, the Undergraduate Supervisor will meet with the two examiners simultaneously. If the ensuing discussion does not lead to a resolution of the dispute, the Undergraduate Supervisor will grade the essay.

The Honours essay counts as 1.0 credit of course-work and a grade of B- or higher is required to satisfy the relevant Honours program requirement.

10.   Duties of the Essay Supervisor and the Second Reader

It is the responsibility of the student to find an Essay Supervisor and a Second Reader. The student is encouraged to consult with the Undergraduate Supervisor for assistance.

It is the responsibility of the Essay Supervisor to try to ensure that the Honours essay is written at the required level (a grade of at least B-). Note, however, that the Essay Supervisor cannot guarantee that the final grade will be a B- or higher.

The Essay Supervisor must also try to ensure that the student is making adequate progress throughout the term in which he or she is enrolled in ECON 4908 (by, for example, promptly reading, commenting on, and returning to the student all essay drafts) and that the essay meets the required format (see Section 8 above).

However, it is not the responsibility of the Essay Supervisor to proofread the essay and correct spelling and grammatical errors. This task rests with the student. Students encountering difficulty writing the essay should contact Writing Services and/or hire a professional editor.

The primary responsibility of the Second Reader is to evaluate the final version of the essay, although he or she may agree to serve as a secondary adviser for the essay.

11.   Potential Essay Supervisors

Every faculty member who has been approved as a supervisor of graduate theses and research essays under criteria established by the Senate of the University is qualified to be an Essay Supervisor or a Second Reader of an Honours essay. With the express consent of the Chair, certain other members of the Department of Economics (namely, emeritus and adjunct faculty and visiting scholars) may also be allowed to serve in these capacities.

The list of certified potential Essay Supervisors and Second Readers in Economics includes all individuals with entries on the pages at carleton.ca/economics/faculty-and-staff/regular-faculty and carleton.ca/economics/faculty-and-staff/other-faculty/with-fgpa-supervisory-status.

12.   Critical dates

For students hoping to enrol in ECON 4908 during the upcoming (full) Summer, Fall, or Winter terms, the critical dates pertinent to the timely completion of the Honours essay (see Sections 4–6 above) are given on the page at calendar.carleton.ca/academicyear. Look under the relevant term descriptor (in red capital letters) for the statements beginning as follows:
(a)   “Last day for registration …”;
(b)   “Last day for handing in term assignments/work ….”

13.   ECON 4908 Sections

In each Summer, Fall, and Winter term, three sections of ECON 4908 with the consecutive single-letter designations A, B, and C will be offered by the University. Students taking the course for the first time will be enrolled in Section A, students taking it for the second time will be enrolled in Section B, and students taking it for the third time will be in enrolled Section C.

14.   Completed Honours essays

As of the date this Web page was last updated (12 November 2019), the list of the (forty-eight) Honours essays completed since 1 January 2004 is as follows (embedded links are provided to the full text of most essays that were awarded a grade of A- or higher):

Abdel Khalek, Amr S., “Microfinance: Viable Financial Services for Development,” 5 December 2005; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. A. R. M. Ritter.

Abdelhamid, Mohamed H., “Islamic Banking,” 9 September 2005; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. D. P. Rowlands.

Abdillahi, Ahlam A., “The HIPC Debt Relief Initiative and Ethiopia’s Educational Sector Reforms: Does Debt Relief Work?” 16 May 2005; Sup. Y. Samy, 2nd. M. Demers.

Al-Shammari, Huda, “The Indian IT Industry: An Investigation into the Sources of Growth of the Modern Indian Growth Miracle,” 16 August 2007; Sup. M. Demers, 2nd. F. S. Demers.

Altawil, Jumana, “Regulation and Deregulation of the U.S. Financial Sector and the Financial Crises of Recent History,” 10 September 2009; Sup. N. I. Kazi, 2nd. R. Razo-Garcia.

Allison, David P., “The Impact of Inflation Targeting on the Canadian Stock Market: Examining Changes in the Announcement Effect,” 10 August 2006; Sup. P. N. Rowe, 2nd. H. J. Schaller.

Armstrong, Alexander M., “The Returns to Bilingualism in the Canadian Labour Market,” 13 August 2004; Sup. Z. Yu, 2nd. C. Worswick.

Aston, Jason Andrew, “Politico-Economic Mutual Care: Guiding the Future of Canadian Equalization,” 29 April 2008; Sup. A. S. Dodds, 2nd. A. M. Maslove.

Barber, Glen E., “Economic Cycles and Canadian Provincial Elections,” 30 August 2012; Sup. T. O. Gross, 2nd. M.-C. Voia.

Beseiso, Aula, “Human Inclusive Economic Development: The Link between Health, Industry, and Productivity,” 23 March 2012; Sup. V. H. Dehejia, 2nd. S. Power.

Beyer, Jeffrey, “The Impacts of Fair-Trade Coffee in Producer Countries,” 21 April 2008; Sup. A. R. M. Ritter, 2nd. V. H. Dehejia.

Blundell, Matt, “No Silver Bullets: Room for Improvement in Latin America’s Conditional Cash Transfer Programs,” 8 April 2014; Sup. J. C. Galdo, 2nd. C. J. Worswick.

Boermans, Elyce, “The Limits to Growth in the Soviet-Type Economies: A Conventional View Versus a Rent-Seeking Approach,” 16 April 2007; Sup. R. L. Carson, 2nd. A. R. M. Ritter.

Bolduc, Jessica Amy, “Creating a Market for Biodiversity: Applying Economics to Biodiversity Conservation,” 19 April 2007; Sup. D. A. Smith, 2nd. D. G. McFetridge.

Bonen, Tony, “Fibre of the World: The Political Economy of Trade, Development and Industry in Cotton,” 5 April 2007; Sup. A. R. M. Ritter, 2nd. R. Germain.

Chinwuba, Nesochi, “Assessing the Influence of Maternal Education on Infant and Child Mortality in Nigeria,” 18 August 2010; Sup. A. C. Dammert, 2nd. J. C. Galdo.

Chowdhury, Erfan, “Low Cost Carriers: How Are They Changing the Market Dynamics of the U.S. Airline Industry?” 26 April 2007; Sup. D. G. McFetridge, 2nd. D. A. Smith.

Côté, Damien, “The Economic Sustainability of Global Hazardous Waste Production,” 11 August 2005; Sup. D. G. McFetridge, 2nd. D. A. Smith.

Dahir, Abdul, “Profit-Risk Sharing Vis-à-Vis Conventional Banking Systems: Performance and Efficiency—An Empirical Verification,” September 2005; Sup. A. Kia, 2nd. P. N. Rowe.

Davis, Peter, “Decolonizing Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa: The ‘Land Issue,’” 4 April 2007; Sup. A. R. M. Ritter, 2nd. P. A. Popiel.

Dick, Christopher H., “Determinants of International Trade in the Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson Model,” 15 October 2015; Sup. R. A. Brecher, 2nd. Z. Chen.

Egavian, Mihran D., “Financial Systems, Crises and Remedies: An Overview of the Vulnerabilities in the East Asian Crises,” 15 March 2006; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. Y. Samy.

Gorchakova, Anna, “The Impact of Military Engagement on the Economies of the U.S.A., Russia, and Canada,” 3 December 2007; Sup. M.-C. Voia, 2nd. B. M. Chu.

Graf, Dominik, “Nuclear Power Cost Competitiveness with Stochastic Input Parameters,” 20 August 2012; Sup. T. O. Gross, 2nd. F. S. Demers.

Grimm, Adam, “Student Loans: An Analysis of Income Contingent Loan Repayment Plans,” 30 April 2007; Sup. A. S. Dodds, 2nd. D. A. Smith.

Gulzar, Laila, “Boom and Bust of Information and Communication Technology and Thereafter,” 7 April 2006; Sup. H. U. Khan, 2nd. K. K. Xi.

Halmo, Geoffrey, “How Have Inventory Dynamics Changed Since the Financial Crisis?” 22 August 2011; Sup. H. U. Khan, 2nd P. J. Coe.

Hasan, Faruq S., “Taxing Cyberspace: Economic Application and Cross-Country Policy Analysis,” 8 April 2005; Sup. A. S. Dodds, 2nd. M. E. Burns.

Isik, Bora, “Identification of Trends and Cycles in Economic Time Series,” 20 June 2004; Sup. R. Gençay, 2nd. J. Zhang.

Kiflewahid, Ezana Berhane, “Does East Africa Constitute an Optimal Currency Area?” 31 August 2004; Sup. F. S. Demers, 2nd. M. Demers.

Kingston, Brian, “The Mexican Peso Crisis: Exchange Rate Policy and Financial System Management,” 15 September 2006; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. A. R. M. Ritter.

LeBane, Paul, “Revisiting Basic Exchange Rate Forecasting Techniques,” 13 August 2007; Sup. Z. Yu, 2nd. S. Power.

McCatty, Machel, “The Process of Rural-Urban Migration in Developing Countries”, 11 May 2004; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. A. R. M. Ritter.

Minvielle, C. Monique, “Exchange Rate Policy and Currency Crisis: Mexico 1994,” 12 August 2005; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. R. Germain.

Opar, Beryl, “The Impact of Official Development Assistance on Economic Growth in Niger,” 19 January 2007; Sup. A. R. M. Ritter, 2nd. P. A. Popiel.

Pankiw, Adrian S., “What P/E Does the Canadian Market Support?” 13 September 2004; Sup. W. Lawson, 2nd. D. Jackson.

Postolek, Sabina, “The Ontario Smart Metering Initiative: Will Time-of-Use Pricing Work in Ontario?” 13 August 2007; Sup. D. G. McFetridge, 2nd. D. A. Smith.

Robbins, Kyle, “Impact of Cannabis on the Economic and Social Aspects of Canadian Society,” 5 August 2019; Sup. B. Chu.

Robertson, Suzanne M., “The Baby Boom Generation’s Effect on Stock Returns and Bond Yields in the Canadian Market,” 24 July 2006; Sup. H. U. Khan, 2nd. J. S. Ferris.

Rose, Sara, “Income Inequality and its Contributing Factors in Transition Economies,” 5 December 2011; Sup. C. Viju, 2nd. A. R. M. Ritter.

Saleh, Sharif, “Currency Board Arrangements: Analysis and Perspective,” 4 May 2004; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. V. H. Dehejia.

Sansom, Thomas, “The Effects of Unions on Productivity,” 11 April 2005; Sup. P. N. Rowe, 2nd. C. Worswick.

Sharma, Sameer K., “The Determinants of Total Factor Productivity and Output Growth: The Case of India,” 12 August 2005; Sup. K. Marwah, 2nd. H. U. Khan.

Spelay, Zachary, “The Canadian Health Care System and the Effects of Public and Private Health Care Systems on Health Outcomes,” 28 April 2006; Sup. J. M. Stewart, 2nd. D. G. McFetridge.

Stocker, Michael L., “Estimating the Demand for Defence Expenditures: A Ratio Approach for Assessing the Defence Burden and the Determinants of Canadian Defence Expenditures,” 11 August 2006; Sup. D. P. Rowlands, 2nd. S. Power.

Toledo, Mariana Peres, “Bees: a Consideration of the Economic Value of Insect Pollination in Ontario,” 8 April 2015; Sup. M. M. Papineau, 2nd. P. N. Rowe.

Yousuf, Sana, “Dollarization, Euroization and Accession to the Euro,” 15 September 2006; Sup. P. A. Popiel, 2nd. V. H. Dehejia.

Yuan, Yi, “Optimal Deposit Contracts with Transfers,” 16 August 2009; Sup. J. Zhang, 2nd. M. J. Klasing.