Undergraduate Dissertations

Reference & EducationEducation

  • Author Samantha Morrison
  • Published July 1, 2010
  • Word count 592

Nearing the end of your undergraduate degree you will be asked to write a dissertation. This will be a longer piece of writing based on your own research. The dissertation may be named something else} such as "research essay", "long essay", "extended essay" or "final year project".

First steps towards the dissertation

First decide on a subject to research. For some well-prepared students, they have a a hobby or interest based on something within their topic and so they find it easy to choose a dissertation issue. For others, pinpointing a dissertation topic can be a long, drawn out process. Consider what you are interested in. You might even come up with an idea that would impress a company you would like to work for. If you are able to find this sort of topic that can be applied in the "real world" your research may even turn out to be something you can develop for work. Some general reading around your subject might spark off new ideas, or there may be a problem which you feel is unresolved in the current literature. Here is your chance to look at this further.

Your dissertation

You want a research idea interesting enough to keep your interest for a few months. Although you might be the first person to try to solve the issue under research, you don't want it to be something so peculiar that you have difficulties in finding any reading matter. If in doubt, ask the supervisor if your chosen subject is too big or too small to answer in the space of an undergraduate dissertation.

Keeping notes

Accurate files from the start of your studies is vital. You will be doing a lot of study and as the project goes on, it becomes difficult to recall where you read certain details. Your paperwork need to record the exact titles and other bibliographic information of all the resources you read. Going back later to look for a book you read before in order to check the place or date of publication will waste hours of your time. Some students will also have a separate record detailing their research and their own ideas as the work progresses – almost like a journal specially for their research project.

Reading for your dissertation

Your reading for the dissertation will be lengthy and although your supervisor can make sure that you don't go off on the wrong track with your research, you will be seeking out material for yourself. You may need to be referring to a Fifteenth Century parchment or referring to Nineteenth Century newspapers. Your material will include books, gazettes, websites and a wide range of other written material: cookery books, collections of diaries or title deeds.

When does this start?

Your college or university will probably launch the work for your dissertation towards the end of your second year (if you are on a three year course). This means you will have the summer holidays to begin to develop possible ideas and do some general reading for the project.

Your mentor

You may be introduced to a supervisor before the summer holidays and have the chance to debate your primary opinions with them before you tackle the research. Although the mentor will be able to give you guidance, there may come a stage when you have done so much study that you become the expert on the question. One of your ambitions should be that by the end of your writing, you know more about the topic than just about any other researcher.

Samantha is a writer for Oxbridge Essays.The company 's essay writing service is an invaluable guide for students. Working with various levels of essay formats and working with students right up to PhD , all essays are written by Oxbridge graduates.

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