Dissertation. A scary prospect to think about in your first year; you know it is coming eventually, but it is still a while away yet, so you probably don’t think you need to think about it just yet. However, it can be beneficial to start thinking about it as early as year one.
What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation, putting it simply, is a large essay you will write at the end of your third year, though if you choose to do a masters, you are more than likely going to produce another one then. Dissertations will vary with each course; you may need to write a large essay on its own, or plan and carry out a project and produce a reportp for it once all is done.
Lengths of dissertations can also depend on your course as, if you study a subject that doesn’t require a full project to be undertaken, you are more likely to have a larger essay to write than, for example, someone who needs to produce a computer program and then a report.
Thinking About Your Dissertation
It can seem like a daunting idea to think about the dissertation in your first year. You don’t have to have a complete idea though; it can be a case of thinking about what it is you enjoy about your course and what you don’t. Year two is likely where you’ll get more of an idea of what you’d like to write about as you will be more comfortable with your course, and you’ll have more of an idea of what you enjoy the most and are most passionate about.
After speaking to some postgrad students, they admitted that they could have done more in earlier years to prepare themselves for the dissertation in year three, for example, a friend of mine had the idea in year two to write a mock dissertation in preparation for the real thing.
There are resources to help you with writing your dissertations and seeing just what they look like. You will always have your personal tutors and lecturers whom you can speak to for guidance and ideas on what to write about for your dissertation.
The library can also be a huge help, as there are past dissertations on the ground floor, in the little room with the DVDs just beyond the reception desk. These can’t be taken out of the library, but you are welcome to read through them on-premises. There is also the ‘Dissertation Showcase’ on the library’s website which allows you to search for and read past dissertations in PDF format.
Dissertations can be a scary idea for any university student, whether you’re a first-year, a third-year, or a postgraduate student, but preparing yourself and reading up on them and asking questions are great ways to assuage some of those fears.
UoL Library Dissertation Showcase: https://dissertations.library.lincoln.ac.uk/