Dissertations: Schedule

Good luck with your upcoming assessments!

In the mean time (over the summer term), don’t forget to think about your dissertations!

It is a good idea to also stay in communication with your supervisors, so you can develop your own ideas and so that they know how you’re getting on!

Remember: it’s your responsibility to stay in contact and do the necessary work! Although 15,000 words sounds like a daunting task, splitting it up into manageable chunks is a good way of approaching dissertations. This is where your dissertation plans/outlines come in handy!

It is also a good idea to think about a schedule/timetable of deadlines/targets. Draw up a table that divides the month into weeks and what you aim to accomplish by the end of each week.

1. Targets and deadlines

I like to think of some deadlines as ‘soft’ targets. For my own purposes, I set deadlines for completion of chapters. If I hypothetically set my target for the 26th April for completion of one chapter, I also allow myself 4-5 days flexibility because we all know life can become busy! Therefore, if I don’t finish the chapter exactly on the 26th April, I still don’t feel too demotivated, as I still have a goal in sight.

Of course, these ‘soft’ targets are set within the boundaries of ‘finite’ deadlines. For example, the deadline for submission of the dissertation. I try to aim for completion 4-5 days before submission so I can edit my footnotes, bibliography, text and central argument and the possibility of something bad happening!

2. Reading and note-taking

Factor in time to read and take notes. Your brain needs time to process the information, so give yourself time to read when you draw up your schedule!

3. Time for editing and refreshing your footnotes

OSCOLA referencing is a difficult thing to master; it takes time and practise! Give yourself time to put in cross-referencing (if using it) and making sure you have the right citations and footnotes when using work that you need to correctly attribute.

4. Time to write

I hate writing but love to read! Starting to write from scratch is really difficult for me, especially when I’m starting at a blank page but once I start, then the process becomes much easier. If that’s the case for you, then factor that in! Give yourself time to write and away from distractions!

Yes, no distractions! You’ll find you write better and more effectively when you don’t have zombie sounds from the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ on!

5. Take a break!

Take a break from researching and writing. You’ll find that writing is more enjoyable and less stressful when you give yourself time to! Go have some leisure time with friends, as long as you remember to come back to the dissertation with a clear and fresh head – it’s probably not a good idea to do it after too many drinks the night before!

And finally, enjoy! It’s not everyday that you get to study such interesting topics at the postgraduate level!

Workshop: Assessment Criteria & Essay Structure

It was lovely seeing you at the workshop on ‘Assessment Criteria & Essay Structure’ yesterday.

Here are the slides that were used: Assessment Criteria Powerpoint Slides

We highlighted that it is important to have a good structure to help develop your arguments and make it easier or the reader/marker to understand the point that you are trying to make. To do so, we revisited the burger analogy from an earlier post.parts-of-a-paragraph

A good essay like a burger, will have an introduction (the bread bun), analysis (the filling – with different/separate components that support each other) and a conclusion (the bread bun base). It should have a logical and coherent structure, where the central argument is evident and the sections complement each other.

  1. Introduction

The introduction should outline the rationale behind your approach/work – that is, why it is relevant. Also, what is relevant i.e. what law you will use; scope and limitations – recognising the parameters of the task, as well as, your central argument. From there, it should also briefly touch upon how you’re going to answer the question, which primarily refers to the structure of your essay e.g. Part 1… Part 2… Part 3…

2. Analysis

In a burger, the ‘filling’ is arguably the best ‘bit’ of the burger, so the analysis should be the main section and ‘best bit’ or bulk of your essay. It will be formed of different components, which should be linked to each other and your central argument.

As per the assessment criteria, you should:

  • Summarise and synthesise issues arising from the law;
  • Be able to use academic arguments to support your work in a concise manner;
  • Be able to engage with these academic arguments;
  • Narrow and focus on relevant issues;
  • Consider areas for reform or recommendations

(For further details, please refer to the LLM Assessment Criteria in the LLM Programme Handbook, which can be found on UWE Blackboard).

To help your analysis, sub-headings can help ‘sign-post’ different aspects of your work and help break it down into specific sections.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion will finish your essay. It should link back to your introduction and the central argument that you introduced and summarise the earlier analysis. Because you’ll have already undertaken the analysis, the conclusion can draw on these earlier arguments. It should be noted that the conclusion is not a place to introduce new arguments or concepts.

 

 

 

Plagiarism – and how to avoid it

It was brilliant to see some of you at the workshop on plagiarism yesterday. Here are the slides on plagiarism: Plagiarism and good academic practice

The key things to note are:

  • Plagiarism includes intentionally stealing someone else’s work, or unintentionally copying it without acknowledgement by not following good referencing guidelines
  • Collusion (working with another student, or copying their work with or without their knowledge) is an academic offence
  • It is also an offence to pay someone to write all or part of your coursework
  • You can self-plagiarise – never submit all or part of the same assessment more than once
  • Plagiarism can be avoided by the correct use of OSCOLA. This includes:
    • Knowing when to use quote marks or OSCOLA quote formatting (see the guide to Using Microsoft Word – Referencing)
    • Knowing when to put a reference in your text
    • Keeping a full Bibliography

There is further detail on all of these issues in the slides. For a full example of the use of referencing and good academic practice, see the Essay Structure guide.

Essay Structure

In this post, you can access an example of an LLM essay:  Example essay

This essay has been annotated to give an explanation of how essay structure has been used to answer the question. It must be stressed that there are many ways to structure an essay, and that a lot will depend on your personal writing style, the topic and the argument/s you wish to build. This example is intended only to show how structure may be used to form an answer, and illustrate the importance of structure within essays.

Please note: If you have problems downloading the essay, open the folder containing the download, right click on the file, and open with Microsoft Word.

If comments aren’t appearing on the right, you can click on the comment icon and this will open the comment bar.

Workshop 17/11/2016 – Presentations & Poster/Pitch Advice

It was good to see so many of you yesterday. We hope you found the session helpful.

Here are the slides we used, as well as some key points, which you will no doubt remember, and be itching to put into practice!

slide2slide3If you are late for your presentation you will not be able to present, and will receive a no-score for your presentation.

Avoid holding large bits of paper, these can be distracting, encourage you to simply read from the page, or the paper can start to creep up and begin to cover your face!

While you are not expected to wear a suit, it is important to set the appropriate tone for the presentations, it is a formal assessment so please dress appropriately

slide4Do not rely on cloud storage, bring a USB drive with you, and then use the cloud as a back up.

Your presentation will need to be backed up by research, evidenced by a bibliography, this is best completed in a word document and printed separately, as it will be harder to read on a slide

Print out your slides so the examiners can follow the presentation, and refer back to slides after you have finished.

slide5Your examiners are the audience, talk to them, and not the cameras

They will be taking notes, so will not always be looking at you, do not be put off by this, it is not a bad thing, just continue with your presentation.

The questions will relate to your presentation, they are not there to trip you up they are to help you expand on your argument and improve your marks.

slide6slide7Avoid speaking in a monotone  voice, there should be natural inflection to your speech.

Pace yourself, try not to speak to quickly

Breathe! It helps a lot, honestly. Do not be afraid to pause for a moment, collect your thoughts and carry on with your point.

There should be a clear structure to your slides and this should be conveyed to the examiners with an outline slide which you then follow.

Link your presentation together, make sure you set out your aims at the start and refer back to them at the end.

slide8Avoid extensive text, keep to bullet points and expand on them in your presentation. It is too tempting to just read from the slides if you have this much text. Also, you will then loose the attention of your audience as they will be reading the slide, and not listening to you.

slide9Avoid animations, if you do use them, keep it simple.

slide10The text needs be big enough to read and in a colour which can be read.

 

slide11

Attention to detail is important, check your spelling!

slide12slide13slide15slide16

slide17The focus of your poster should be on how your methodology and methods will be used to answer the question.

Your question needs to be a legal issue!

It needs to be justified, but you should not answer the question in the poster, you have not completed the research yet, and the poster is to demonstrate HOW you will do the research.

 

slide18

 

A good poster will be easy to read and guide the reader around it.

Think about the structure of your poster

Avoid pictures that make it harder to read the poster, if you have text over images make sure the text is legible.

If you are using colours, make sure they do not render the text unreadable.

Keep text to a minimum, be concise, this will help the reader understand the poster in a short amount of time, excessive text will take up space and is unlikely to be read.