Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Ellie

Should I Write A Dissertation?!

So it’s the time of year where everything seems to be coming to a huge climax. Exams are looming near, course-work is due in soon and those of us who are coming back in September have to start making plans for our next year of academia. I am currently coming to the end of my second year, so in the midst of all the madness happening around me, I have to make a huge decision: Should I write a dissertation?!

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My department is asking us to have our dissertation proposals in by the end of this month, meaning I have not got long to make my decision as to whether I will do a dissertation or not. In my opinion, writing a dissertation is something you will only ever get the chance to do once – unless you go onto postgraduate study – therefore, would it not be best to just grab the opportunity that you have been presented with? However, it is an extremely daunting task, having to find something that can motivate you enough to put hours upon hours of time and energy into – 10,000 words is a lot!

Here is the list of pros and cons:



A research project you are passionate about. It is easy to get lost, or alternatively to never get sufficiently lost and remain too superficial in your essay.
The opportunity to develop an interest studied in little detail on your degree. Not good if you struggle with deadlines.
The chance to develop your writing style and the ways in which you can structure extended essays. Essays of this length can be difficult to structure.
Good preparation for the MA or potential PhD. It can be hard to manage the number of sources you have read. Or find a sufficiently exciting thesis (argument you are making)
Your grades can go up. Your grades can go down.
Independent means no one will be making sure you are working consistently  

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Things that have helped in my contemplation’s have been the knowledge that there will be plenty of support available to me if I do chose to take on a dissertation.

Most departments will provide a supervisor, who can read drafts and evaluate my work and offer feedback on ideas.

The 301 is readily available with many workshops that will help with dissertation writing, such as: Dissertation Planning, Academic Writing, Proofreading, Searching for Researching and many more.

In my journey of contemplation I have been reassured that once in the swing of writing my dissertation, my biggest worry will be having too much to say and therefore feeling restricted by the word count.

It seems, at the end of the day, it has to be a personal decision, you need to take into account whether you think you are capable or not to work independently, and whether you are passionate enough about the research project to delve so deep into that topic.

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We are 301 Student Skills and Development Centre and we give academic skills advice to our students at the University of Sheffield. We offer workshops and 1:1 appointments.

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