Bachelor thesis in Economic History

First of all, welcome to our department! It is a very good idea to write a thesis in economic history, because this helps to understand long-term development processes in rich and poor countries.

In general

Basically,  the  Bachelor thesis should be organized like a short article in an international first-class journal. Please read a selection of articles about any topics in the Journal of Economic  History,  Explorations  in  Economic  History  and  the  European  Review  of Economic  History. You  might  not understand  everything,  but  just  focus  on the  most important aspects.

Pay attention to how the authors proceed:
a clear research question
some  pages  about  which  relationships  other  studies  found  on  the  subject  and what you would theoretically expect
at least one page on which you convincingly argue that your study is important
a list of literature references
a  background  chapter  on  historical  and  other  facts (Optimally,  you  should make clear how the main points relate to your analysis.)
meaningful figures and tables (especially regression tables), which are discussed in the text as detailed as necessary
a brief conclusion including the main research questions, the performance and the results
a description  of  the  data  set,  in  particular,  the  strengths  and  weaknesses  (such as measurement errors, biases, and perhaps arguments why they do not weaken your analysis)

In  addition  to the journal articles, it is a good idea to read some of our papers (available to download on our website). Please study how the regression tables are organized (often several models, different combinations of explanatory variables. Not just “raw” Stata-Output).


About the process
We accept students to write their Bachelor thesis at the department the whole term. The writing period start with announcing the topic at the beginning of every odd month (January, March, May, July, September, November).

We will provide you with a continuous supervision. In  addition to your visits during office hours (3 times), you are supposed to prepare a short presentation (10-15 minutes) which summarizes your research and your most important results . The presentation has to be given in our  Bachelor Seminar.  After that, you will have at least one week to include suggestions and hints.

The writing period is 10 weeks. You have to submit a printed version. Please note therefore our hints about the formalities and our checklist.


You could apply the whole year.
Please fill in the online application form.

Necessary documents:

  • CV
  • an up-to-date statement of your academic performance (transcript of records)
  • your final high school grade*
  • a short cover letter


Hints for students with an allocation by the examination office:
We kindly ask you to fill in the application form as well. So we could offer you a proper supervision.

We also accept students who did not attend any of our courses (even though that would certainly help) as long as their performance in other courses is good, and their commitment and enthusiasm are obvious. We work with topics that are related to our department research in order to provide you with optimal supervision. We usually respond to students’ interests in specific countries. We assume that you did not contemporaneously apply at other departments as well (if this is the case, please inform us).

According to the Examination office you are allowed to write the Bachelor thesis at our department, even you have reported other preferences to them.

* We observed that sometimes very good students had corresponding high school grades, but slightly less excellent grades in economics courses and we want to consider a broad range of information.


In case your topic allows for it, read and cite articles from international economic and economic history journals. The data base EconLit of the main library (UB) enables you to download PDF-files and print them out. You might be so lucky as to find a controversy in literature, to which you can contribute an empirical finding. If the controversy is important, include it in the "research question" of your thesis.



If possible, we would appreciate your own creation and investigation of new datasets, as this is very useful for many future career fields.

You should always consider the following questions: Should I measure this indicator using this variable? Does it make sense? Try to find good arguments for your strategy.
As  mentioned  before,  there  is  data  available  in  our website  as  well.  Otherwise, you can get access to other data sets from our department.

Attention to the formalities and protocol for data management: Hints for BA/MA Thesis Students


We appreciate students analyzing the data on their own, in order to find an answer for an important question, or answer it more precisely or for a new time period or a new country.

In case you have difficulties running regressions, we can offer you some help. In addition to the analysis, including some diagrams that explain more about your topic would be effective.

Please discuss in which way you used your indicators and their definitions.
In case the regional aspects or the geographical relations play a role in between countries, using maps might simplify the text. The empirical-statistical and graphical analysis is very important to us.
All data should be checked for plausibility: Are there any differences between a table and another figure? Or between a figure and the text? Are all of the results compatible with each other? (The  analysis and the structure should be logical; the concepts should be explained clearly and easily understandable).

Hints to your cover letter

This cover letter should be at maximum a half of a page and refers to the following points:

  • Do you have experience in the field of applied regression analysis? Or are you willing to learn about it? Do you know the term “Panel Data”? (You can look it up in some books available in the library such as, Wooldridge and Studenmund). Have you ever estimated a regression by yourself? (This is not mandatory).
  • Would you be willing  to visit an archive in another city or abroad for 2-3 days? Are you planning to do a semester abroad or to travel somewhere else to visit friends? (All of this is not obligatory and is not required to write a first-class thesis as well, especially since we have data available in our department as well. However, some students were very interested in this option and  performed very well. Other students concentrated more on the econometric analysis, also with very good results).
  • When do you want to write your thesis?

Possible topics

Find attached a list of possible topics for a Bachelor thesis:

Topics for Bachelor Thesis in Economic History