Dissertation Tips

You usually need to write a dissertation or research project in your final year. This is a major piece of work that is typically between 5,000 and 12,000 words.

You'll need to spend time preparing, researching and writing your dissertation. Most subjects encourage you to start your dissertation research before the end of your second year. You should start thinking about dissertation ideas before you leave university for the summer.

How dissertations are different to other assignments

Cottrell (2003, p. 201) describes the differences between dissertations and other university written assignments by comparing dissertations to reports. A dissertation may have many features of a report (including an abstract) and usually requires continuous prose in most sections. Both require analytical and critical reading and writing, and new material or approaches that you've created to test out theories, hypotheses or methodologies.

Cottrell explains the differences between dissertations and other academic assignments as:

  1. Independence in respect of the nature and scope of the work.
  2. Personal commitment and involvement in the task.
  3. Time and task management to structure progress.
  4. Self-management and motivation to keep going.
  5. Literature searches are more extensive.
  6. Presentation; grammar, punctuation, myidlyrics.com binding all need time and attention to detail.

Whilst these clearly apply to other forms of written assignment, it is the extent, scope and depth that characterise a typical dissertation.

What does the dissertation process typically include?

Barnes (1995, p. 117) offers a possible sequence of activities to produce a dissertation:

  1. Decide on a topic that interests you.
  2. Try several working titles.
  3. Formulate your main research question and working title.
  4. Discuss the ethics and methodology of your research with a lecturer.
  5. Set up the project; making appointments to interview (if appropriate).
  6. Gather and analyse the data.
  7. Construct a timeline for writing and editing a basic draft.
  8. Check with a critical friend/colleague or supervisor.
  9. Write final draft and proofread.
  10. Print final copy and submit in time.

Other Sources about How to write dissertation https://edeyselldigitals.com/2023/11/17/top-tips-on-writing-your-dissertation/ .

There are variations to this sequence, dependent on the exact nature of your subject and any specific decisions made by your department or faculty. It's useful to draw up a timeline based on your project. This could be in the form of a Gant chart, especially useful for business projects.

What help is available?

Consider the resources for your course and department. Published details of your dissertation requirements probably include guidance on structure, https://careked.com presentation, your academic teaching team, and specific arrangements for supervision.

Your faculty librarian can help you with aspects of research including sourcing primary literature and referencing. Read more at the library website.

The Academic Skills Unit (ASK) can offer you additional support through group or 1:1 tutorial sessions on subjects like critical thinking, writing, note-taking techniques and time-management.


Cottrell, S. (2003). The Study Skills Handbook (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: PalgraveBarnes, R. (1995). Successful Study for Degrees (2nd ed.). London: Routledge

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Top tips for dissertations

These tips are general pointers that will apply to most dissertations. For more discipline-specific advice it is essential to consult course and unit handbooks and your assigned dissertation supervisor, as well as attending any lectures and seminars on research and dissertations.