This section will provide an overview of the process required to undertake an extended piece of work such as doctoral thesis, research proposal, dissertation, project, extended essay etc. The term dissertation will be used to describe the work throughout the section. Your dissertation supervisor will play a key role in supporting you through the research process.

The prospect of a self-directed piece of work whose word length can range from 3000 - 20,000 words can be daunting, but the practical steps outlined can help. This overview will give you an idea of the complexity involved writing a dissertation. Once you have an idea of what you are doing, make sure you refer to relevant in-depth research methods texts and be guided by your dissertation supervisor at all stages of the process.


A good dissertation should demonstrate:

  • An ability to carry out independent, original research.
  • Familiarity with related academic literature in the relevant subject, including the main issues and research methodologies employed.
  • An ability to criticise and evaluate the work described in the literature and your own work as reported in your dissertation. See here for advice on critical thinking.
  • An ability to write a concise, focused report of your research work in good English, in a logical order and in your own words. You should avoid irrelevant detail, excessive wordiness and spurious arguments.


Watch these really useful videos of academics discussing the important aspects of tackling a dissertation, such as what it is, how to approach it in terms of structure and planning, the role of the supervisor and referencing.

Introduction To The Project - Part 1

Introduction to Project Part 1

Transcript of Introduction to the Project Part 1[DOC]


Introduction To The Project - Part 2

Introduction to Project Part 2

Transcript of Introduction to the Project Part 2 [DOC] 


Many of the sections overlap and you may have to return to an earlier activity to amend, review or consolidate, therefore, it is a good idea to work through all of the sections before starting your dissertation. In addition, make sure you are familiar with the search techniques outlined in the Finding Information section. Similarly, techniques for tasks such as Note-taking and Critical Thinking will also be useful.