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One of the most vibrant and progressive areas of research in

academia today involves the analysis of modern society. From

humble origins within very few universities at the end of the nineteenth century, the social sciences have become the accepted way of analysing the challenging and exciting problems that mankind faces as modern society evolves. Classically, social sciences were defined by R A Seligman as ňúthose mental or cultural sciences which deal with the activities of the individual as a member of a group'. In

St Andrews, our School of Social Sciences accepts and operates within this broad definition. Here, the core of the social sciences in a research sense is made up of the disciplines of economics, management and international relations. Cognate areas with which we enjoy extensive interdisciplinary links include: social geography, social anthropology, philosophy and modern theology. The methodologies adopted are diverse, extending from the qualitative to the quantitative in terms of hypothesis testing, and from the textual to the mathematical in terms of theory development. However, they all have in common the intention of relating available evidence to propositions which will enable us to understand better the complexity

Economics is a major research area which makes contact with almost all aspects of human activity: running a

business, purchasing a commodity, managing a charity, taking on a job, getting married, regulating an

industry and so on. Despite this diversity, its key concept is simple: economic agents optimise. The strength of economics as a research discipline is that this simple and

unifying concept can be rigorously applied in many areas. These extend from core areas like the firm and the

household to areas such as social choice, the environment, quality of life, and health care. Such economic

research allows free rein to new ideas, of the theoretical or empir

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