3rd August 2023
A dissertation, or thesis, is a substantial piece of research that allows students to showcase their abilities and apply the information they have learned across a typical degree length of three to four years. Dissertations are designed to assess a student’s analytical and research skills in the specific field they are in, and they typically range between 8,000 and 15,000 words, depending on your course.
Within a dissertation, there are many factors and components that have to be completed to build up the final piece of work. However, there is always one starting point: a research idea. Before you start anything else, you must have a solid idea for your research project that has to be assessed and agreed upon by your university lecturers and the head of your course. You will then be assigned a dissertation supervisor with whom you can schedule frequent meetings and receive advice throughout the process.
There are several key components that make up a complete dissertation:
Besides the main areas of a dissertation, at the beginning of your research project, you must include a cover page with your research title, name, student number, and date of submission (this may vary depending on your university), an acknowledgements page to acknowledge any tutors or family members who helped you along the way, an abstract to summarise your research paper, and a contents page of the sections included in your dissertation alongside page numbers.
At the end of your dissertation, there must be a reference list (or bibliography) including every piece of work (book, article, website, etc.) you have cited and an appendix that must include any data extracts, transcripts, or tables used for your study.
Due to the variety of qualifications you can study at university, it is not necessary or required for every student to write a dissertation. Different degree programmes have different methods of measuring progress and skill. You may have to sit an exam, conduct a presentation, or complete a spoken exam, with many other approaches available.
However, a final exam is necessary to complete your degree and receive the 40 credits you need to graduate. Although there are different types of exams at university, one thing is clear: no matter what approach your course subject takes, the library will be the place you spend most of your time.
It may not seem like there are any benefits to a dissertation when you spend months writing it, glued to your laptop, and you forget what the outside world looks like.
However, there are many benefits to the process: