Dissertation Stress: Blitz Away Your Troubles In 5 Easy Steps

The word dissertation is enough to send shivers down any student’s spine. Dissertations will be the biggest project you will have to do while you’re at uni; for some, it’s an entire year’s work. The purpose of a dissertation is to give each student the responsibility to determine their project and goals and to enable them to develop this on a individual basis.

The research element of whatever chosen project will be carried out on a primary and secondary basis, creating an in-depth project.  Whatever you choose, you will live and breathe it for almost a year – so select your subject carefully!

That said, fear not.  There are plenty of ways that you can keep calm and carry on so that the word dissertation doesn’t have to creep up and terrify you.


Subject matter

Think carefully before you choose your subject matter. You will have to live with it for a while, so focus on something that’s important to you and that you’re passionate about; that way it will be easier to work on it every week!

Is there something in your course that you’ve really enjoyed, or that you’re interested in delving into deeper? If so that’s a good place to start.  Nail the title and aim of your work; this will keep you focused. Remember that generally the word count is 10,000-15,000 words, so you’ll need to know a lot about your chosen topic to reach the word count.



Planning is the key to a successful project. You’ll need to work out a structure to the dissertation on a whole, like a novel, it needs to have a beginning, middle and end to make an engaging and enjoyable read, plus it needs to make sense. You’ll need to work out an introduction; what you want to set out to achieve and how you’ll do it.

The next step is to explain the project, the main argument, a counter-argument, your findings and research.

Lastly, the conclusion covers what you found, whether it was what you expected when you set out and whether it meets with your original plan of what you set out to achieve. This is when the introduction comes in really handy!



Bibliographies have a certain style and format to them; learn how to write one as a starter for ten. You must list all sources that you’ve used as part of your work and reference correctly to avoid any potential plagiarism.  This is taken very seriously by most universities, so make sure you get it right!


Proofread and edit

Remember to manage your time so that you include plenty of time to proofread and edit your thesis.  As you will have been working on it for so long it’s important to go back and check everything makes sense at the end. Pay attention to any gaps in your arguments, or any contradictions.

As you proof your work, you need to check for spelling, grammar, and style errors. Read your text word-for-word – aloud if it helps! Consult a dictionary or thesaurus if you have any concerns.  There are some services out there that offer proofreading and editing services, so this could be for you if you run out of time.



Look at other examples of dissertations to get you started. This will give you a starting point as to how they look and feel so that you get the format correct.  There are plenty of examples out there to give you an idea if you’ve never seen one before.

Although your thesis will probably be the most difficult piece of work you will ever complete, it will also be the most rewarding.  Remember to focus on the task ahead and realise that your third year will be dedicated to your project. Now is the time to get serious about your academics.

Happy planning!


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