I’ve just finished the first three weeks of my final year at Leicester and although the deadline isn’t for a number of months, the heavy burden of all things Dissertation looms over my head. As a joint degree student, I had the opportunity to choose between doing a 5,000 word English Dissertation to be completed around christmas or the Film option of 10,000 words due in for the 9th of May. Naturally, I went for the one with the film option because It’s the subject I work best at, but the longer deadline doesn’t hurt either. But regardless of Deadline or word count, a Dissertation is something that students are expected to work on throughout the year, dedicating lots of time to planning, research and drafts – something that I am currently undergoing despite not actually having to start writing the darn thing till after christmas.
The structure of a Dissertation provides an element of freedom in terms of working hours – the fact that a third of your final year mark has virtually no contact hours can be a blessing to some, but a very daunting prospect to others. Personally, I’m not a big fan of such autonomous learning mainly because I just don’t really trust myself to work on my own for long periods of time with no distractions and no tutelage. Having said that, everyone is allocated a Dissertation tutor who can help with any queries, as well as mediating your work from initial research to drafts; so If you are like me when it comes to autonomous work, fear not! As you are not completely alone.
I’m currently in the process of refining my topic of enquiry, ensuring that I have enough scope for 10,000 words but also making sure not to be vague, pinpointing exactly what case studies I wish to refer to as well as refining my approach by having a clear structure.
The Dissertation is a perfect way for a student to immerse themselves in a particular topic of their chosen study that they have a keen interest in. I have chosen to write about the Danish film movement ‘Dogme 95’, a topic which is of great interest to me and could probably talk about all day. Of course it’s subjective but I think this is the key for anyone who is yet to start their third year; If you are passionate enough about your chosen topic then the words will come easily and the research will be, dare I say it, fun…
So my advice to anyone who reaches the end of their second year and is already panicking about the dreaded Dissertation is this: you have nothing to worry about! It’s a gradual process and one that can be enjoyed providing you go with something that you are truly interested in. Another great thing about it is that Dissertation tutors are not only there to help, but will let you choose almost anything providing it’s related to your studies and has enough reading dedicated to it. Dissertations really aren’t that scary! Do bear in mind however that I do not have the clarity of hindsight because I haven’t even started writing mine yet… but trust me when I say it’s not as horrific as some make it out to be.