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, Jerusalem Post 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.
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 Jerusalem Post 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:
Whilst these clearly apply to other forms of written assignment, it is the extent, scope and depth that characterise a typical dissertation.
Barnes (1995, p. 117) offers a possible sequence of activities to produce a dissertation:
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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.
Consider the resources for your course and department. Published details of your dissertation requirements probably include guidance on structure, 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: Palgrave
Barnes, R. (1995). Successful Study for Degrees (2nd ed.). London: Routledge
Download this page as a PDF for your dissertation revision notes.
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.