Hey, long time no post! (I normally say this as an excuse as to why I’ve been such a ghost on here but this time it’s legitimate, I promise)
Whilst I wish I could be sharing motivational, educational and faith related posts, I was instead slaving away at what every final year student either absolutely loathes or deeply enjoys- The Dissertation.
I remember when thinking about university, an older friend of mine stated “you know the dissertation is actually one of the things you really enjoy at university, one of the things you look forward to the most”. As I stared at him with ultimate disgust, at the thought of writing an essay worth 12, 13 or 14k words could be something that could bring you ultimate joy, not the social life, the parties, the friends, nope. The Dissertation. Those where his words.
And it wasn’t until completing the last final paragraphs of what had become a 60+ page word document that I actually resonated with those words, I truly did enjoy it. Yes, it brought me eye bags, yes it brought me bald patches on my scalp (I swear I lose my hair when I’m stressed out!) and yes it made me miss out on social time with my friends due to endless presentations, chapter drafts and readings that I had to do. However, once you have finally finished your last sentence, and you read through all of your words, your research, your project. You can’t help but to smile endlessly at your creation. It became like a child to me.
The dissertation or “thesis” as my old-fashioned parents would ask me about every Sunday is a project that you complete in your final year of university. It normally has a word limit of 10k words and above (depending if you’re university actually likes you or not) and is comprised of a question or topic you come up with yourself and essentially research for and give an answer to. In the end, it really just tests your ability to do independent research and also conduct a thorough investigation by yourself.
Now let’s get into the boring stuff (it’s not really boring as I fell in love with this topic) My dissertation was on the International Criminal Court and whether they are biased against African Countries. I came across this topic in my second year of university and I found myself having a deep infatuation with it, the fact that me, being an African could resonate with the idea of a westernised institution one again exerting dominant control over the “Third World” as one would say. I’ll stop here, if not I will end up rewriting my whole dissertation lol, but I hope you get the gist.
I thought best to share some tips on my experience. Now I say experience and not expertise because I am not an expert at thing, and my grade will definitely determine this. But I still wanted to share my journey through the disso and some lessons I learned from it.
- You have to fall in love with your topic- literally
Now, no one likes coursework. Well if you do then I guess God has really blessed you with a special desire for research and essay writing. But I make that point to say that this is a piece of coursework that you are going to be writing for about 7-8 months straight. It is a topic that you are going to read on, watch, listen and maybe even physically journey towards, in order to conduct research. You are going to be fixated on this topic for multiple months at a go, hey, you may even have to give a presentation on why this topic fascinated you so much. You have to be one with your topic. The good thing about the dissertation is that you have sole choice of your topic. You literally can write about anything you want to within your degree. Of course, it being academic, and a researchable topic has to come into consideration but, you really do have control over your topic. So, make sure it’s a topic that truly fascinates you and makes you want enthusiastic to read upon.
2. Start Early
If you’re lucky to know what you want to do for your disso when you first start university then that’s great! Of course, not many people have that in mind from the get go, but if you have a rough idea of your topic even before you reach your final year then that’s great! The earlier you can start the better, this is because of all the extra bits of reading and information you can obtain before you have to put down pen to paper… or screen.The earlier you can start preparing, even if its just getting a few ideas of what you would want to achieve through the dissertation process, or having a rough idea of when you would like each chapter to be created by, then this would set you off on the right track. The last thing you would want is to be panicking due to leaving things at the last minute.
3. The Supervisor
Just like a supervisor at work, you are assigned a supervisor to guide you through the dissertation process. This is normally someone who has expertise within your chosen topic, therefore being the perfect person to provide you with essential resources to further your research. I’ve learnt that building a rapport with your supervisor is key. Making sure you have a healthy relationship is important, as he/she will be a vital part of the outcome of your dissertation. Meet frequently, ask questions and share any concerns you have! I used to get the idea that I was bugging my supervisor, with questions, but that’s what they are there for if you think about it!
4. Prepare for Sacrifice
Now this comes with anything in your uni life, but prepare for the ultimate level of sacrifice when it comes to the final year project. When everyone had finished exams and went onto live their best lives, I had to prepare for presentations galore. There are going to be times when you have to take a step back and decide on where you can squeeze in an extra hour or so to finish off that reading or edit that chapter. I guess with this, the skill of discipline comes into play, and this will really test your level of maturity and time management. I think that as long as you manage your time wisely, then you wouldn’t have to make large sacrifices.
5. Seek Advice!
It took me DM’ing random people on Instagram, asking for advice as they had previously shared experiences on their dissertation- and there’s no harm in doing so!
I found that once asking people who had completed dissos for their advice, its different as they can give you a personal experience with it. When asking for advice, preferably from a non-academic, you get a more relatable response, and its puts you at ease- well at least that’s how I felt afterwards.
Asking friends, family, colleagues, even strangers if needs be about lessons they learnt through doing their final projects can be super beneficial.
Well that’s it! Some tips and tricks on my experience with my disso, and of course explaining my absence from my blog page. But I’m eager to create more exciting posts and reading some inspirational and posts of yours too!