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7 hacks for writing your Master’s dissertation

29 May 2019

With exams almost over, get off to a flying start by accessing support from UCL and beyond

7 hacks for writing your Master’s dissertation

A dissertation is a great opportunity to bring all the knowledge you’ve been developing together with your skills of analysis and critical thinking.

A strong dissertation could be the springboard for a doctoral study, and it will be an important indicator of your aptitude for research. If you’re not thinking of further postgraduate study, this in-depth exploration of your chosen subject could be a great topic of conversation at job interviews and help you to follow a specialist pathway in your career. 

As exams are almost over, here are seven ways to kick-start your dissertation: 

  1. Speak to your teaching team to find out what resources and activities your department offers to support you through your dissertation. 
  2. Check out the study skills pages on the Current Students website: Research and writing for dissertations and projects is a series of online modules – from project management techniques to structuring the argument - that will help your research, and writing. 
  3. Get face-to-face training from Subject Liaison and Site librarians in UCL Library Services, who can point you to a very rich range of resources. In some departments, training sessions are organised for students as part of teaching: where this is not the case, you are welcome to contact your subject liaison or site librarian (see the full list) to arrange a session (either individual or group sessions for students on the same programme). They also give support and training on using reference management softwares – Endnote and Mendeley. 
  4. Access UCL Library Services range of guides for independent learning (see Reference Management). From here you can also access self-guided training materials on other areas such as searching for resources.
  5. Spruce up your academic writing: sign up for 30 minute one-to-one  academic writing tutorials with UCL Centre for Languages and International Education (CLIE); get support from the UCL Writing Lab or the Students' Union Writing and Language Support programme for non-native English speaking students. The Academic Phrasebank is a general online resource for academic writers and The Internet Grammar of English is a free online course in English grammar written primarily for university undergraduates.
  6. Get in touch with the UCL Digital Skills Development team who offer one-to-one help and run IT-related courses. 
  7. Log into LinkedIn Learning (formerly lynda.com) with your UCL ID and access free online video tutorials, ranging from research design, to digital tools that support long-form writing projects, to statistical software for running quantitative tests.