Stack of books on a desk next to an open notebook

Dissertations (are not to be feared)

So, you have gotten through your first year of university and will be starting your second very soon. It is important to note that things step up a pace when going into second year.

The first semester you may only have four assignments. However, when you enter the second semester you will begin to look at the dreaded dissertation and the dissertation proposal.

From my experience, though the proposal seems the most daunting, it really isn’t once you have a rough idea of what you want to do. For example, when I started mine, I knew I wanted to do something on the gender role of the female in Doctor Who and how that had changed.

I knew I needed to expand my idea and I didn’t really know how. When it got closer to the time, our lecturers asked us to submit our ideas and indeed I did. After I had a meeting with my lecturer, I came away knowing that I needed to look much deeper into the topic. My idea had been expanded to the point where I knew of areas where I needed to read more about, and how much of the topic I could cover within the word limit.

We had to do a ten minute presentation, giving the rationale, our area of study, the research question and timescale for when we would do all of this research. Sounds scary right? Let me tell you, once you have the rough ideas and once you have done the presentation, you have much more freedom to go and do the research that you set out in your proposal.

Another important thing to note is, after you have submitted this assignment, it does not mean that your topic is set in stone. For example, in my presentation I did not cover one of Doctor Who’s companions as I did not think they would be relevant to the study. However, upon re-watching a series, I realised her importance to the series, and the potential importance of her within my study. I spoke to my lecturer about it in depth later, and this meeting gave even more pointers and areas that I could explore.

One thing to take away from this is to not worry about the proposal. The dissertation is yours, and once you have fleshed out your idea, rationale and all, it makes you feel much better about the bigger project later.

Once you have gotten initial feedback on your proposal and have been given tips and advice, continue to act on them. Your dissertation is YOURS, so own it. Absolutely own it, because when you do, I think you might enjoy it.

Or like me, and this will sound crazy, you will LOOK FORWARD TO DOING IT!

One last piece of advice I would give is to continue reading, even over your summer break because that will give you an advantage when you do come to starting to write it in September. It will also be a load off of your shoulders when you have other modules to complete over the academic year.

Don’t dread your dissertation. EMBRACE IT!

This article is featured on Learning at Lincoln. 

Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to the University of Lincoln for the latest information.