Is doing a dissertation necessary?
One of the major pieces of work any student will do is a dissertation, but is it necessary to do a dissertation?
When choosing your final year modules there will be the option to do a 30 CATS dissertation (some departments/ course have made a dissertation compulsory). It can be difficult to know whether you should do a dissertation or not. This blog explains the pros and cons of doing a dissertation and why I am not doing one and why that is ok.
- It will provide you with great academic research skills by developing your independent research skills, developing your writing skills and ensuring your voice is heard
- Some Masters programmes require you to have a dissertation so if you are thinking of doing further study after you graduate be sure to check whether the course you are interested requires you to have completed a dissertation. By doing a dissertation it will give you more to discuss in an application. If you already know what field of study you would like to do your Masters in it makes sense to do a dissertation in this area
- Completing a dissertation can be useful if you wish to go into a particular sector which will value this research, some of my friends who have completed a dissertation have been able to put this on their CV and discuss it at interviews. Dissertations show an employer that you are self-motivated, capable of independent work, considering different perspectives and that you can work on a project and keep developing.
- It shows perseverance- there will be highs and lows of writing a dissertation- I am imagine taking the obligatory photo outside your home department/ library holding your final draft is an incredible feeling.
- You need to be super passionate about the subject you choose- narrowing down what you would like your topic can have the potential to be very difficult- there may have been something during your degree which has sparked interest or a topic you are interested in but for many people choosing a topic which you must stick with for a year can be incredibly challenging
- It is a lot of words- most of my 30 CATS modules normally require 5000 words in total spread over a few essays and exams whereas a dissertation is usually 10,000 words. Think about whether you are someone who leaves things to the last minute if so a dissertation may not be for you- it is a lot of words to write the night before! Although your tutor will be there to support you, the process of writing a dissertation is down to you and you will need to be incredibly motivated.
Why I am not doing a dissertation and why?
I was really undecided on whether to do a dissertation, but I do not think a dissertation is for me and that is ok. There were lots of different modules I was interested in for my final year and doing a dissertation would mean that I would have to give up one. I was also unsure about what my topic would be. This year I took the module Gender and the Law and one of the assessment was an independent piece of work. In my mind, it was like doing a mini-dissertation although it was only 4000 words because there was no lecture on my topic surrogacy. From doing this I learnt that I preferred a more structured form of learning- lecture, reading, seminar then essay- doing a dissertation does not provide the same sort of structure. Thus there are lots of pros and cons of doing a dissertation but it is totally unique to the type of person you are and whether you prefer module learning or independent research. I would recommend the book: Law Dissertations: A Step-by-Step Guide by Laura Lammasniemi- a Professor here at Warwick. My friends who did a law dissertation this year found her book incredibly helpful. I would also recommend watching some of the Warwick vloggers on Our Warwick as they will be able to give you a true insight into what the process of doing a dissertation is truly like.