Dissertation: Topic & Proposal (Study skills)


Hi everyone, this video is about choosing
your dissertation topic and thinking about your dissertation proposal. What I’m going
to be talking about today is going to be more relevant to people in arts, humanities and
social sciences, where you generally have quite a bit of freedom about your dissertation
topic. If you are in a scientific or empirical discipline you are more likely to pick from
a list of available topics so what I’m going to say won’t be as relevant to you, so take
this opportunity to take a five-minute break. So first of all, I want to talk about the
difference between a dissertation topic and a dissertation proposal. A topic is a broad
area of interest for your dissertation. Most departments will ask you to submit your topic
and that helps them identify your dissertation supervisor. Your proposal is a formal document
outlining your dissertation in more depth, it’s usually a few thousand words and it will
look at your dissertation questions, the way that you are going to answer those questions.
A lot of departments will have a set format for this, so you should check your module
handbook to make sure you’re doing what you need to do.
When thinking about your dissertation you might like to think about what kind of questions
you want to answer, is there anything in your modules that have been really interesting
to you that you want to find out in more depth? Is there an area of practice that you are
interested in that you want to influence with research? You might also like to think about
how your topic relates to your future? Are you aiming to use your masters dissertation
to influence PhD work? Are you hoping to move back in to practice in your topic and your
topic would enable you to become a better practitioner? Are there different career options
that you are interested in that your dissertation might be helpful for? You might also like
to think about what existing expertise you bring to your topic? Again, are there modules
that you have done that would prepare you to answer this question? Are there specific
elements of research that you’ve mastered that you would use in your dissertation? Are
there language requirements that you fulfil? What do you already know that will help you
be successful in writing your dissertation, always bearing in mind that you supervisor
is also there to make sure you can do your dissertation to the best of your abilities.
Think about what already exists about your topic, what existing literature or research
is there available? you are probably going to want to have a quick look at what has already
been published on your area for example. If you haven’t already done so, this is a great
time to find out who your academic support librarian is, pick their brains, particularly
around research that might not easily be available in the normal library catalogue. If you don’t
know who your academic support librarian is, there is a list on the website and I would
really recommend you looking them up. They are an absolutely invaluable source of expertise.
Once you’ve thought about all those things you can start to put together what you think
your dissertation topic might be. One last thing that you might do is look at what academics
in your department are researching and how they might support you. It’s completely ok
to look at modules you haven’t taken and see whether that is something that you are interested
in and go and talk to that academic and see if they think you would be able to do your
dissertation in that area. Again, take advantage of their expertise, look up their office hours
and ask if you can go and chat to them for a few minutes, saying that you might be interested
in doing a dissertation in one of their areas, that is completely fine and will help your
school identify who your supervisors might be for your dissertation.
So, there we go that was a request for the School of Law on choosing a dissertation topic.
If you have any ideas about different skills videos that you would like to see do please
get in touch, you can Tweet us @Warwickskills, email [email protected] or you can come
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along with everything else. I hope that has been helpful for you, if you’ve
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