BACKGROUND OF THE COURSE AND RELATIONS TO OTHER COURSES In this course a written report (seminar paper) is prepared within the area covered by the course Descriptive Economics and the topics will be related to sustainability issues. It is an independent activity which is evaluated and graded. The teaching takes the form of a series of meetings (seminar meetings) in the Spring term where the students' seminar papers are presented and defended in seminar groups with typically 7-9 participants. The activity takes place in the second year of the BSc(B) study.
MAIN TOPICS The seminar paper deals with problems from the broad variety of descriptive economics topics known from the course Descriptive Economics and the problems are mainly chosen and based on a presentation based on statistical source material. The given problem is described, elaborated and analyzed based on e.g. collected data and a considerable part of the seminar activity is related to selecting relevant information from national and international statistics. The seminar paper is written using the methods and principles regarding tables and calculations etc. acquired during the Descriptive Economic course (Spring semester) with the curriculum as point of departure cf. suggested reading. Please see the course description for Descriptive Economics for further information about contents and topics, but examples of titles for seminar papers could be: ’Economic growth in less developed countries’, ’Hydro power production in the Nordic countries’, ’Energy consumption and Global Warming: The development in Denmark since the Kyoto-agreement’.
MEACHING METHODS Class room teaching where students present their individual reports.
LEARNING OUTCOME; QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPETENCES As mentioned, writing the seminar paper is based on the education in Descriptive Economics which to a great extent focuses on skills that are relevant for writing economic reports where the intent is to acquire and train skills for written description of a given delimited topic. Students are supposed to have basic knowledge of word processing and spread sheets, as programs like Word and Excel will typically be used when writing the seminar paper. Thus, the aim of the seminar activity is to allow students the possibility of testing his/her competences – acquired in the economic subjects and in Descriptive Economics – within the art of writing economic reports on a specific topic which can be described and analyzed using mainly statistical source material. In addition, the seminar activity aims at providing students with qualifications to be able to assess economic reports prepared by others, e.g. from ministries and organizations. This is trained at the seminar meetings in the form of so-called "opponent activity" where students take turns to comment on and assess seminar papers written by their fellow students. This is supported by written contributions – typically 1 or 2 pages long – which contribute towards structuring the meetings where the individual seminar papers are being presented and discussed. The acquired competences must result in the ability to be able to analyze a given subject from an economic point of view – based on data – and also to be able to write reports in a clear, readable language, including demonstrating the mastery of relevant calculation, figure and table techniques.
EVALUATION OF LEARNING OUTCOME; ASSESSMENT CRITERIA The degree of fulfillment of the learning outcome is evaluated based on the preparation of an individual seminar report of approx. 10 pages dealing with a specific topic which is agreed with the responsible teacher of the seminar group in question. The seminar activity consists of a series of meetings where the individual seminar papers are discussed, and the teacher and the students of the seminar group participate. One grade is given to reflect the student's work with the seminar paper, opponent activity and general participation in the seminar meetings.
The basis for the evaluation is the degree of fulfillment of the aims and the general requirements for the grades 12 and 02 are as follows:
Grade 12: The grade of 12 requires a complete and satisfactory analysis of the given topic for the seminar paper, i.e. application of all relevant statistical material – regarding selection, discussion as well as analysis/commenting. The performance must be very satisfactory in terms of using concepts, collation of primarily statistical material, own calculations, text / figures etc. and the student must demonstrate a certain amount of independent subject skills both at the report level (layout, figure/table techniques etc.) and at the analytical level (commenting on and evaluation of the chosen collated material). Finally the preparation of opponent papers and participation in the seminar meetings must be fully satisfactory.
Grade 02: A performance to be given the grade of 02 will be a seminar paper which in the main is without grave errors or misunderstandings regarding concepts as well as economic development and contexts which are relevant to the seminar topic in question. The most basic statistical material will, however, be used in the seminar paper which only gives a general and somewhat inadequate presentation of the problem. Likewise, the layout of the seminar paper in terms of language and graphics (tables, figures etc.) is without independent quality. E.g. the same type of figure can be used throughout the entire seminar paper without considering whether this particular presentation technique is appropriate for the chosen material. Finally, independent analytical skills are only demonstrated to a limited degree as far as commenting on and evaluating the chosen material in the seminar paper is concerned.
SUGGESTED READING Hans Linderoth and Jan Bentzen, Guidelines for Writing Papers in Descriptive Economics, K nr. 44, 2007