Your masters dissertation
For many of our students this is their first piece of independent research, and this book is an excellent resource to accompany them on that journey. The text takes the student from the very beginning of the project thinking about where a masters dissertation might fit in their life, and what topic to choose right through to the end where it helps to think through what the narrative argument will be, and how to shape the whole piece into a coherent whole. The diagrams are helpful, and very useful in teaching. The book has been particularly useful when accompanied by an engaged teaching practice.
For many of our students, who are engaging in politicised research, this text holds words of caution, but alongside the encouragement and support of their tutors, it does not put them off engaging in important political enquiry.
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A very comprehensive and yet accessible guide for students. It is a practical book that helps to break the enormous task into achievable chunks. I will reccomend this as a resource for Masters student about to embark upon their dissertations to enable them to get a good organised start.
An excellent book for students to understand the basics of what is required of their Masters Dissertation. Very useful and clear. A good read with some ideas for our students, however because it is at Master Level, is more indepth than our students at this stage require. Pdf file of chapter 2. Pdf file of chapter 1. Chapter Three.
Skip to main content. Download flyer Recommend to Library. Description Contents Resources Reviews Preview Doing Your Masters Dissertation is a practical and comprehensive guide to researching, preparing and writing a dissertation at Masters level.
Choosing a topic
It adopts a well-structured and logical approach, and takes the student through all the stages necessary to complete their research and write a successful dissertation. In contrast, PhD proposals are longer, between 1, and 2, words, and contain more comprehensive information. However, regardless of whether you are writing a masters or a PhD research proposal, it will need to cover the same key points:. It should be clearly written, well-structured, and presumably follow the chronology described under the previous section.
Your research project must be achievable and realistic rather than too ambitious. This means that you need to pay attention to time constraints, support all your statements by relevant literature, and show that you can think coherently about your subject. Your research proposal must be driven by the curiosity to expand the knowledge about your research field rather than by choosing a research question just because you know that it can be easily answered and earn you the degree.
Once that your research proposal has been approved you will need to start your actual research project.
Top Tips When Writing Your Postgraduate Thesis or Dissertation
Each research project is unique and different people have different ways of carrying out their research. However, there are some basic stages which may be relevant to all the research projects and we have compiled these stages to show you what a typical research cycle looks like:. Some courses schedule the dissertation at the end, while others have it running along concurrently with other modules. Whichever way your course is organised, it is essential that you create a plan that helps you allocate enough time to each task you have to complete.
It is useful to work out how many weeks you have until you need to submit your completed dissertation, and draw a chart showing these weeks. Block out the weeks when you know you will be unable to work, and mark in other main commitments you have that will take time during this period. Then allocate research tasks to the remaining time.
It is very important to be realistic about how long each task is likely to take. Some focused thought at the beginning, then at the planning stage of each phase, could save hours later on. Write down the resources needed for each stage. It could be time in the library; the resource of your working hours; or the use of equipment or room space that needs to be booked in advance. Some people find that they procrastinate more than they would like. This is a common problem, so it is probably best to be well-prepared to identify it and deal with it if it does start to happen.
People procrastinate for various reasons for example:. Early identification of the signs of procrastination will give you the best chance of minimising any negative effects. Once you suspect that you are procrastinating, it can be helpful to review what you are expecting of yourself, and check that those expectations are realistic.
This is where planning is vital. Your research plan should also include information about what equipment you will need to complete your project, and any travel costs or other expenses that you are likely to incur through the pursuit of your research. You should also think about whether you are dependent on any one else to complete your project, and think about what you are going to do if they are unable to help you.
Once you have created your plan it is a good idea to show it to someone else. Ideally you will be able to show it to a member of academic staff or bring it to the Learning Development, but talking it over with a friend may also help you to spot anything that you have forgotten or anywhere that you have been unrealistic in your planning.
Although a dissertation is an opportunity for you to work independently, you will usually be allocated a member of academic staff as a supervisor.
What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation? - The Best Master's Degrees
Supervisors are there to help you shape your ideas and give you advice on how to conduct the research for your dissertation. They are not there to teach you the topic you have chosen to investigate: this is your project. They are, however, one of the resources that you can call on during your research. Academics are busy people, so to get the most out of your supervisor you will need to be organised and to take responsibility for the relationship. To ensure that you get the most out of your supervisor you need to:.
If you are not happy with the way you are being supervised, explain why to your supervisor or discuss the issue with your personal tutor. Regardless of whether you have been given a dissertation topic or you have developed your own ideas, you will need to be able to demonstrate the rationale for your research, and to describe how it fits within the wider research context in your area. To support you in doing this you will need to undertake a literature review, which is a review of material that has already been published, either in hard copy or electronically, that may be relevant for your research project.
Key tools that are available to help you, include:.
Researching and Writing a Masters Dissertation
It is a good idea to make an appointment to see the librarian specialising in your subject. An information librarian should be able to give you advice on your literature search, and on how to manage the information that you generate.
You will probably generate more references than you can read. Use the titles and abstracts to decide whether the reference is worth reading in detail. Be selective by concentrating on references that:. Once you start reading, ensure that you think about what you are trying to get out of each article or book that you read.
Your notes should enable you to write up your literature search without returning to the books you have read.
Completing Your Degree
Refer to the guides Effective Note Making , Referencing and Bibliographies , and Avoiding Plagiarism , for further help with note-making. For most research projects the data collection phase feels like the most important part. However, you should avoid jumping straight into this phase until you have adequately defined your research problem, and the extent and limitations of your research. If you are too hasty you risk collecting data that you will not be able to use. Consider how you are going to store and retrieve your data. You should set up a system that allows you to:.
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There are many systems that support effective data collection and retrieval. These range from card indexes and cross-referenced exercise books, through electronic tools like spreadsheets, databases and bibliographic software, to discipline-specific tools. You should talk about how you plan to store your data with your supervisor, an information librarian, or a study adviser in the Learning Development.
As you undertake your research you are likely to come up with lots of ideas. It can be valuable to keep a record of these ideas on index cards, in a dedicated notebook, or in an electronic file. They may be useful as ideas in themselves, and may be useful as a record of how your thinking developed through the research process.
A pilot study involves preliminary data collection, using your planned methods, but with a very small sample.