If you’re reading this blog as a student yet to enter your final year, this will give you a little insight into the dreaded dissertation, arguably the most time consuming and stressful part of your university life – such a positive introduction to a blog! If you’re one of the lucky ones that is in their dissertation year then we’re in the same boat, a boat that we will not let sink with the help of a few tips from myself, as well as from friends who have gone through the experience themselves.
You may have heard people talking about dissertations and the amount of words that they have to write, this may sound very daunting to you but it doesn’t have to be so. The first piece of advice that I will share with you comes from a friend who had a particularly packed dissertation year – he’s an engineering student. His advice was to set aside at least a small amount of time each day (an hour or so) and set yourself a realistic target each time to make slow but steady progress, as opposed to rushing it in the weeks coming up to your deadline. Some examples of realistic targets that you can set yourself each day are to write a couple of hundred words or to find a few references. The basic idea is to split up a big task into many small ones to reduce the size of the task, this way it won’t really feel like you’re writing thousands of words. The other advantage of doing this is that you can keep on top of the dissertation even when you have other time consuming coursework pieces to do. For instance, there might be a period in the year where you have to neglect the dissertation in order to fully concentrate on other assignments, but if you have followed this tip then this will not be a problem, as you will have already made significant progress beforehand. Another piece of advice he gave me was to check in with your tutor as regularly as possible for feedback, they will be marking it at the end of the day so their opinion and guidance is incredibly important!
In terms of advice for students yet to enter their final year, the most useful piece of information I can give you is to find out where your interests lie (if you haven’t already) early on in your second year, in order to give yourself the greatest chance of having the best suited tutor for your topic area. Not only will this help with the quality of information you receive, but by having an interest in your topic area you will find you have greater motivation, and (dare I say) can enjoy the process of doing your dissertation. This can only help with the speed at which you write your dissertation and will also improve the end product. If you think ahead and choose a topic that interest you, it’ll make the year SO much easier for you!
So the moral of the story is to do everything in your power to make your dissertation as stress free as possible, whether that be before or during your dissertation year. Remember, your dissertation will not be the only university work you have to complete during your final year, so it is a good idea to get to grips with it early. It’s about time I get back to mine!