Doing a dissertation in the time of coronavirus – OurWarwick
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Doing a dissertation in the time of coronavirus

MauritiusUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Adam Agowun | English and French Contact Adam
Anything, including (but not limited to):Doing a joint honours (and…
Find out more about me Contact Adam

Disclaimer: this might end up being a bit of a rant, but it’s primarily aimed at informing you about what a dissertation is, and how I’ve been coping with it during COVID-19.

I chose to do a dissertation in my final year because I hope to pursue postgraduate study – an MA, and hopefully, a PhD. I thought that doing a dissertation would (rightly) give me a deeper insight into the world of research. Sure, we all have to research and read around for our essays, but a dissertation, at a whopping 10,000 – 11,000 words (for language students at least) is more about researching a topic – a wider field, if you like – to the extent where you become well-versed in that discipline. It’s about answering questions that are broader than what you might expect from an essay – my dissertation has a title, and several key questions informing it, as opposed to answering one question or topic.

Since I did a module on French Presidents and the Media in my second year, I’ve been fascinated by media policy and media performance. When I was on my Year Abroad working as a journalist in Mauritius, former president Jacques Chirac died – and so, I thought it would be a good topic to study for a dissertation!

Now a dissertation is hard anyway. For most people, it’s the first time they’ve undertaken a project of that magnitude. What I find weird, is that I’m writing paragraphs – chapters even – without a clear thesis statement. However, imagine doing it under the restrictions of coronavirus. If you’re currently doing a dissertation, then I hope this can be a reassurance for you.

I’m going to be completely honest with you. I’m really struggling. Doing a project like this without the ability to go out and see friends (I don’t really have many at home) means I don’t have a social break as I usually would – so the stress is a bit high.

Secondly, there is a practical issue – accessing the library. As you might imagine, doing a dissertation can lead you in all sorts of directions, to all sorts of resources that might not be on a reading list. Whilst the library has made great efforts to place more materials online, and there is currently a postal loan system in place, you might be able to understand the difficulty faced by dissertation students if they can’t access a certain resource, or if that resource takes a longer time than expected to arrive.

There is a contingency for this. For language students at least, there is a Covid Cover Sheet, which you can fill out if you feel that your project has been compromised in any way. If you are doing a dissertation with another department, it might be worth checking with your department if there is a similar measure in place.

However, I know there’s nothing that is going to help with how you might be feeling right now – trust me, I really do. In that case, I would encourage you to speak to friends who might be doing a dissertation. Reach out to your personal tutor and see what advice they might offer you, or speak to the Wellbeing services. At the end of the day, this is a really weird time to be doing a dissertation, and people will understand that.

A practical tip that might help you is making clear chapter plans. I’ve tried that as a new way forward, and I found breaking up my chapters into little sections makes it seem a bit more manageable and a lot less daunting.

Talking, and finding some sort of outlet (I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling with that part – but walks seem to be helping) can be really helpful when it comes to dealing with a large project in such extraordinary circumstances. As long as you keep those things in mind, the project will hopefully seem easier.

Take care, stay safe!

MauritiusUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Adam Agowun | English and French Contact Adam
Anything, including (but not limited to):Doing a joint honours (and…
Find out more about me Contact Adam

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