Step by Step

I was inspired this Easter break by my best-friend from home as to how I might tackle the dreaded dissertation. As you may be aware I often post about my dissertation and the worry I feel about it as it is very important. Let me just refresh your memory as to how significant a dissertation is within an American Studies degree.

Your dissertation counts as two separate modules in your final year at Leicester in American Studies. This means it counts for 40 credits of your final year, where normally modules count for only 20. 40 credits out 120 = one THIRD of your final year! It is a lot BUT because you choose your topic and title you of course choose something you are interested in and so it is quite nice to write about (just daunting). My chosen topic is politics and more specifically I am writing about a man called Drew Westen who wrote a book called The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. If  you are interested in American politics I encourage you to read this book! (But with a critical eye). I’m enjoying writing mine now I have all the research done and I know what I am doing.

It is also 10,000 words long for American Studies students – TEN THOUSAND! A lot I know, but I promise you when you come to try and write that much on a topic you are interested in you will find you have 15,000 words at least on the subject! Even so, you can’t expect to sit down and write 10,000 words over a few days (although I have a friend who did just that 3 days before the deadline – needless to say she was hysterical!) and so my friend told me a great trick that I am sure everyone will come to do.

Give yourself a small word limit per day once you have planned your dissertation and start far enough before the deadline so that you have very little stress and still get a lot of free time during the holiday break! My word limit per day is 750 -1000, a very conservative number and it takes very little time to fill it with satisfaction as I know the subject so well. So far I now have 4,100 words in the bag! This is before the final edit of course, but I will have this draft written by mid-next week which gives me 2 more weeks to edit! And I get my afternoons free to do what I like!

This brings to mind a favourite saying of my teachers at college; if you fail to plan, plan to fail.

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Jen

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Jen graduated in Summer 2013.

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