Teaching & Learning


Six tips to help your students prepare for their dissertation

29 May 2018

Share UCL resources and support for finalists embarking on their dissertation

Teaching at UCL

A dissertation is a great opportunity to for students to flex their research muscles, and to bring together all the skills of analysis and critical thinking they’ve been developing over their time at UCL. 

A strong dissertation could be the starting point for further study, and it will be an important indicator of their aptitude for research. If they’re not thinking of further study, this in-depth exploration of their chosen subject could be a great topic of conversation at job interviews.

Here are six things students can do to get dissertation-ready:   

  1. speak to their teaching team to find out what resources and activities their department offers to support them through their 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 that will help you develop the skills associated with researching for, and writing an extended piece of work.

  3. go to UCL Library Services where the main focus of support is via face-to-face training provided by Subject Liaison and Site librarians. In some departments, session are organised for students as part of teaching: where this is not the case, students are welcome to contact their subject liaison or site librarian (see the full list) to arrange a session (either individual or group sessions for students on the same programme). Spending time with these subject specialists is invaluable for students as they are able to point them to a very rich range of resources. They also give support and training on using reference management softwares – Endnote and Mendeley.  Alongside scheduled sessions there is a range of guides for independent learning (see Reference Management). From here students can also access self-guided training materials on other areas such as searching for resources.

  4. brush up on their academic writing with 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.

  5. get in touch with the UCL Digital Skills Development team who offer one-to-one help and run IT-related courses.

  6. log into Linkedin Learning.com with their 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.