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Graduate Advice
5 min read

University Life - Effective Strategies For Managing Your Dissertation

A dissertation is a formal, lengthy piece of academic writing which is required for the completion of an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree. It involves original research or an in depth exploration of a certain topic in a particular field of study and will probably be the lengthiest piece of work a student completes at university.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
May 8, 2024

A dissertation is a formal, lengthy piece of academic writing which is required for the completion of an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree. It involves original research or an in depth exploration of a certain topic in a particular field of study and will probably be the lengthiest piece of work a student completes at university. Students present their findings in response to a proposition of their own choice and once completed, the assessment will help towards a final grade.

Managing a dissertation successfully can be a really daunting task for many university students but luckily there are several strategies that have been identified that can help the process!

Starting the dissertation process as soon as possible will allow for sufficient time for necessary research, planning and of course, the writing up of all the facts and information. By breaking down the separate parts of the dissertation into much smaller sections and by setting achievable and  realistic deadlines, students can avoid last minute stress and panic and produce carefully thought out and high quality work.

Developing a detailed plan which clearly outlines the structure, objectives and the deadlines of the dissertation is crucial. The plan should ideally include specific goals for each stage of the process such as reviewing, data collection, analysing and writing. Regularly revisiting and updating the plan will help to keep students on track and to deal with any challenges that arise, in good time.

Time management is a key element to successfully completing a dissertation. Students should prioritise tasks, allocate regular and sufficient time for research and writing, all while keeping distractions to a bare minimum. Utilising helpful tools like time tracking apps, motivational apps, calendars and to-do lists which need ticking off can all go a long way in organising a pressing  workload and maximise productivity.

Seeking feedback from your mentors, peers and academic support systems can help improve the overall quality of the dissertation. Constructive criticism and supportive guidance can help students to identify areas which require improvement and therefore refine their ideas. Also, reaching out to various support networks will encourage students to feel less isolated and will invariably boost flagging motivation.

Of course, whether doing a dissertation or not, self care is imperative and a healthy work life balance should remain a priority throughout. Balancing dissertation work with other commitments and activities is necessary for overall well being and focus. Self care includes adequate rest and sleep, exercise, nutrition and relaxation as well as maintaining a social life, otherwise symptoms of burnout can occur.

Although much hard work and dedication is required throughout the dissertation process, it is important to remain adaptable and open minded because unexpected challenges sometimes do arise. This may require adjusting the dissertation in certain ways whether this is the content or how time is being managed. Being flexible and resilient during this time will enable university students to navigate effortlessly through potential setbacks and will result in a completed, wonderful and enviable dissertation!

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