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!