Master’s Thesis Procedure Law and Economics (MSc) - 2018-2019

The Master’s thesis is an important part of your Master. The thesis is written individually and in English.

Below you can find information about the time schedule and deadlines, the regulations, the U.S.E. thesis award, and some tips.


For the Law and Economics’ students it is important to realise that they will also participate in the thesis trajectory of the Law & Economics programme (MSc/LLM). This trajectory is organised by the Law Department and embodies issues like planning, doing research, and writing research reports. You will be informed separately on the planning and content of this trajectory. This Law originated trajectory is organized from period 1 onwards, whereas the particular MSc-trajectory for the Law & Economics’ students mainly concerns an important meeting in the week 47 (November 19-23 2018) and the whole of period 4.

Period 2
Kick-off event for each MSc programme will be organized in the week of 19-23 November. You will be informed about

  • Potential thesis topics
  • Potential supervisors
  • Guidelines in case you want to propose your own topic
  • Opportunities for a research internship in combination with your thesis

In principle, matchmaking with your supervisor is done before Christmas.


Period 3
At the end of period 3 you are supposed to have completed the research proposal.

April 8 - 12
You present your extended proposal (5 pages) in a plenary meeting, and receive approval of your research proposal.
When your progress is insufficient at this point, you will have to put in substantial extra effort in period 4 to be able to finish your thesis in time.


Period 4
Writing process.
During period 4 you will be guided through individual and group meetings.

May 13 - 17
Group meeting.

June 19 - 26
You present your draft thesis in a plenary meeting/final seminar with the other students of your supervisor, and receive approval to finalise it.

June 28
Hand in the final (digital) version of your thesis to your supervisor.

July 12
Deadline for supervisor to hand in the grade at student administration.

Law & Economics (MSc) students follow a slightly different path compared to the other U.S.E.-students. This follows from the different programme they are engaged in. The focus with the L&E-programme is on the interaction of Law and Economics, and within this programme no time is available for any specific course on empirical economics research. The matching of students and supervisors therefore takes a different path.

In period 2 a meeting will be organised in which they will present interesting research topics of their expertise and possible research questions on the bordering fields of Law & Economics. It may also be the case that as a student you already have an interesting research topic or research question, and you may present this topic to the professor who is the expert in the field. He can advise you on how to structure your research proposal.

If the professor has agreed to supervise you, you should formulate the research question and research plan so that you can work on it and start making a complete research proposal. Usually the final research proposal consists of an introduction to the topic with the description of the scientific and social relevance of the proposal, leading up to the research question and a list of ancillary questions, such that answering those questions will in the end answer the central research question. The method you will use to finally answer the central research question is explained and justified. The proposal will include a draft table of contents, based on the list of ancillary questions, a list of literature and data you plan to use, and a planning of the research. The empirical part of your research could consist of a dataset you have available or have developed, court cases or other types of litigation you plan to use, legislation that is central to your analysis, and more.

After having completed the research proposal by the end of period three, in period 4 the actual research begins.

At the end of this period, theses need to be handed in digitally (by email) to the thesis supervisor. In case your supervisor requests a paper version, you may hand it in personally or leave it at the Student Information Desk Economics, who will then ensure the supervisor receives the thesis. The supervisor checks the thesis on plagiarism, grades it, and hands in the final version of the thesis and the evaluation form to the Student Information Desk.

If your thesis is graded with a 5, you have the option to revise and re-submit your thesis. This opportunity is provided only once. Your supervisor will provide you with feedback of what should be improved. The new deadline to hand in the thesis is August 12, after which the grade will be handed in by the supervisor at the latest by August 19. In the meantime, no additional feedback or guidance can be claimed from the supervisor (holiday season). Moreover, the new (final) grade cannot be higher than a 6; this is only to be fair to students who finish their finish in shorter time. If your thesis is graded with a 4 or less, no opportunity is offered to revise and re-submit.

In some circumstances the June 28 deadline may be extended.  See ‘Regulations’ (hereafter).

  1. All theses must be written and finished within semester 2.
  2. All theses will be checked on plagiarism.
  3. In agreement with the second supervisor, the thesis supervisor will determine the final grade and fill in the Thesis Evaluation Form, which is then presented to you.
  4. The supervisor grades the thesis within 10 working days from receiving the material, and makes sure the results are processed administratively.
  5. In case of special personal circumstances, the Board of Examiners may grant a postponement of the deadline, following consultation with the MSc coordinator.
  6. When you have stopped working on your thesis during semester 2 for other reasons than special personal circumstances, or do not hand in your thesis on time, or when you received an insufficient grade, you will have to start again in the next academic year (at the kick-off event in November), with a new thesis subject and new supervisor.
  7. If the supervisor has graded your thesis with a 5, you have the option of  a once-only possibility for an additional test: the opportunity to adapt the thesis in the following weeks. The new deadline to hand in the thesis is August 12, after which the grade will be handed in by the supervisor at the latest by August 19. The new (final) grade cannot be higher than a 6.
  8. In addition to the cum laude classification in art. 6.2 of the Education and Examination Regulations: if you do an external research in combination with your thesis and this prevents you to graduate in one year, and as a consequence you do not qualify for a cum laude graduation, the Board of Examiners may apply a special (leniency) regulation.

It is not mandatory, but we recommend you submit your thesis to the Students Theses Archive.

Each year the top Master's thesis from all Utrecht University School of Economics 1-year MSc programmes is recognized with the U.S.E. Master's Thesis Award. The thesis needs to be written and completed in semester 2 and is chosen for its relevance, academic merit, and particularly for its integration of a ‘real world perspective’ into an economics issue. The author of the winning thesis is awarded with a certificate and cash prize during the Master’s Graduation ceremony.

Please check our Studentsite for other thesis awards.

Tips and tricks about academic research, writing skills, etcetera you can find in the reader Academic Skills.

We have also created four YouTube tutorials to help you organize and write the thesis:

  1. Finding references and including them efficiently in your thesis
  2. How to structure the master thesis
  3. Tips and tricks of managing the thesis and communicating with your supervisor
  4. How to convert your STATA output automatically into nice Word Tables.
  5. Libguide: overview on much consulted information sources Economics.

U.S.E. has acquired subscriptions to Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS), Compustat, Bank Focus, and Eikon. Compustat covers financial information and executive compensation data for publicly listed companies in the United States. WRDS provides access to Compustat and other free databases using a Web interface, SAS, Matlab, Python and R. Furthermore, WRDS offers a cloud environment with a SAS 9.4 installation. WRDS and Compustat can be accessed through and are available to all U.S.E. staff and students. Bank Focus is accessible through Bureau van Dijk (see; select Economie and then Amadeus).

Nicola Zaugg is the student assistant who can be approached by staff and students for questions related to these data. He can be contacted at