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Is a dissertation worth doing?

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    First, I'm sorry if that topic has previously been discussed, I did my best to find similar one but failed. Could be my absence of search skills, tho.

    So, the thing is I'm about to take the decision whether to choose a regular module (lectures/seminars/exams) or to choose a 20,000 word dissertation for next year. I'm doing International Politics, I'm doing 2 modules per semester, and I have some extremely vague idea on what I'd like to do in a year's time so I guess on one hand dissertation may help me make up my mind. (or to confuse me further.) On the other hand, I was thinking that picking up another module actually gives more knowledge.

    However, I'd really like to see you opinion on the pros and cons of the experience of doing a dissertation. Is it actually useful or compulsory for applying for Master, PhDs and jobs? Or is it just the biggest essay during your undergraduate studies on a topic you choose?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you a lot!
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    sorry my comment isn't very helpful but wow, 20,000 words!! i do politics and international relations and my dissertation next year is 10,000 words and counts for 2 modules out of a total of six! i can imagine if you want to do a masters/phd you should really do a dissertation. what do you fancy doing your dissertation on out of interest?
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    At times, I felt a little out of my depth with my dissertation. But, overall, I thought it was a wonderful experience and I am left with a 65 page document that I am quite proud of. I loved the fact my dissertation gave me the chance to focus on exactly what I wanted to - on an area I have always been interested in, but one that wasn't offered as a module on my degree. Plus, I was able to construct it the way I wished, researching it using my own methods etc. You end up with a great sense of ownership and freedom when you do a dissertation.

    Mine, however, was 10,000 words [worth 30 credits], not 20,000 lol. I assume your dissertation option must be worth more credits though.
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    (Original post by petal1991)
    sorry my comment isn't very helpful but wow, 20,000 words!! i do politics and international relations and my dissertation next year is 10,000 words and counts for 2 modules out of a total of six! i can imagine if you want to do a masters/phd you should really do a dissertation. what do you fancy doing your dissertation on out of interest?
    Yeah, 20,000 doesn't look quite attractive either. Well, if I end up with it, I'd have 1 module + 1 dissertation module per semester (the rest is for my other department, I'm major/minor). I'd probably do it on smth like conflicts and conflict resolution. Or peacekeeping. I'm interested in that sort of things. What about you?
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    (Original post by affinity89)
    At times, I felt a little out of my depth with my dissertation. But, overall, I thought it was a wonderful experience and I am left with a 65 page document that I am quite proud of. I loved the fact my dissertation gave me the chance to focus on exactly what I wanted to - on an area I have always been interested in, but one that wasn't offered as a module on my degree. Plus, I was able to construct it the way I wished, researching it using my own methods etc. You end up with a great sense of ownership and freedom when you do a dissertation.

    Mine, however, was 10,000 words [worth 30 credits], not 20,000 lol. I assume your dissertation option must be worth more credits though.
    Thank you, I see your point that you focus and research on exactly what you are interested in and probably want to explore further in your career and so on. Do you think the dissertation is also what, for example, makes you stand out in your masters/phd application or more like do you think an applicant who has done dissertation would be preferable over one that has not?
    Yeah, mine is 40 credits over 2 semesters.
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    If you need to work in a similar field or show interest in a topic, then go for it. Otherwise, hell no.
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    (Original post by Irrepressible)
    Thank you, I see your point that you focus and research on exactly what you are interested in and probably want to explore further in your career and so on. Do you think the dissertation is also what, for example, makes you stand out in your masters/phd application or more like do you think an applicant who has done dissertation would be preferable over one that has not?
    Yeah, mine is 40 credits over 2 semesters.
    I haven't applied for a masters/phd, so I don't really know. It is definitely something you can produce at an interview though and I think it would strengthen your application by demonstrating that you can conduct structured, independent research. After all, most masters and phd courses are focused on just that - conducting research - so having some experience of it must count in your favour.

    Another thing I liked about my dissertation was the flexibility.
    Easter 2nd Year - Picked our topic.
    Summer Term 2nd Year - Assigned supervisor. Initial meeting.
    Summer Holidays - I did a little bit of secondary research.
    November 3rd Year - I did my primary research at the archives.
    January 3rd Year - I started writing.
    March 3rd Year - I submitted my dissertation.
    I was able to concentrate on it in little bursts, fitting it around my other modules and job commitments.
    It is much nicer, in a way, than having seminar work, seminars and lectures to attend plus essays and exams for a module.
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    Thank you again, affinity89! It sounds really flexible as well, as long as the deadlines are kept
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    are you kidding me? Why an earth would you choose to do it? 10,000 words was bad enough for me, and I enjoyed the subject!
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    Is there not the issue of you not being able to graduate with honours if you do not complete a dissertation?

    I know in our case, we CAN ask not to do a dissertation. But loose the (hons) from the degree classification. I don't know if a higher classification of say 2:1 without hons is better then 2:2 with hons. I seem to believe the lack of the honours is a major thing...at least that's how it's been explained to me.
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    Thank you. No, I don't think we lose anything from the degree qualification. It's just a matter of choice to do it or not.
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    I did (still writing at this date) my dissertation in an area I want to consider as a career it was something done which was huge (10k) and was tough as a meta. The area I picked was very much my own work and an area which doesnt have much done within it plus i got a couple of really good punchlines to it which is impressive.

    Doing something which you are interested and which is a potential career aspects can look well for you but be committed when you do it
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    (Original post by joey11223)
    Is there not the issue of you not being able to graduate with honours if you do not complete a dissertation?

    I know in our case, we CAN ask not to do a dissertation. But loose the (hons) from the degree classification. I don't know if a higher classification of say 2:1 without hons is better then 2:2 with hons. I seem to believe the lack of the honours is a major thing...at least that's how it's been explained to me.
    at my uni its only compulsory if you do a year abroad, for the rest of us we can choose whether to do one and it has no baring on our overall degree
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    (Original post by jelly1000)
    at my uni its only compulsory if you do a year abroad, for the rest of us we can choose whether to do one and it has no baring on our overall degree
    I find this quite surprising to be honest, for some reason I had thought that a dissertation was always a must to graduate?

    (Original post by Sapphire_Eyes)
    I did (still writing at this date) my dissertation in an area I want to consider as a career it was something done which was huge (10k) and was tough as a meta. The area I picked was very much my own work and an area which doesnt have much done within it plus i got a couple of really good punchlines to it which is impressive.

    Doing something which you are interested and which is a potential career aspects can look well for you but be committed when you do it
    10k is huge?
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    If you want to go on to do research, then it's pretty much a must (and you'd be silly not to: how can you figure out whether you want to spend a year writing a sodding great thesis if you've never written anything beyond 3000 words before?) It can be a nice thing for the CV too, if you want to go into a job that requires doing research or project management or something. If you're interested in the subject material then it can be a very worthwhile thing to do, and it demonstrates a different skill set to just learning things for exams: but it can be a bit of a mill stone around your neck, and if you're unsure what you might want to write about then I'd tread carefully in deciding to do one.
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    You say you are a major/minor student, do you have to do a dissertation in the other side of your degree? If not, i'd say go for it - it's a lot of work but it is incredibly satisfying once it has been done.

    If you have another compulsory one to do, then I wouldn't do it, it would be far too much work.
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    (Original post by Irrepressible)
    First, I'm sorry if that topic has previously been discussed, I did my best to find similar one but failed. Could be my absence of search skills, tho.

    So, the thing is I'm about to take the decision whether to choose a regular module (lectures/seminars/exams) or to choose a 20,000 word dissertation for next year. I'm doing International Politics, I'm doing 2 modules per semester, and I have some extremely vague idea on what I'd like to do in a year's time so I guess on one hand dissertation may help me make up my mind. (or to confuse me further.) On the other hand, I was thinking that picking up another module actually gives more knowledge.

    However, I'd really like to see you opinion on the pros and cons of the experience of doing a dissertation. Is it actually useful or compulsory for applying for Master, PhDs and jobs? Or is it just the biggest essay during your undergraduate studies on a topic you choose?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you a lot!
    It will be a lot of work. It would be helpful for PhD applications, but how carefully have you thought about that possibility? Funding is difficult to come by nowadays, and it'll be expensive without.
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    (Original post by Dan1909)
    10k is huge? :confused:



    I find this quite surprising to be honest, for some reason I had thought that a dissertation was always a must to graduate?
    sorry i dont get your quote-i wasnt saying anything about 10k, just that we dont have to do one, although at my uni if we do a dissertation the word count is 7-8k
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    (Original post by jelly1000)
    sorry i dont get your quote-i wasnt saying anything about 10k, just that we dont have to do one, although at my uni if we do a dissertation the word count is 7-8k
    Sorry, I got the quotes the wrong way around as I was replying to 2. I've changed it now.
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    (Original post by Dan1909)
    Sorry, I got the quotes the wrong way around as I was replying to 2. I've changed it now.
    ah seen it now, in reply:
    so did I until I went to uni, or at least I thought it would only be an ex poly that might do that, not out of snobbishness but because they are less likely to do something the traditional way, but I go to UEA which obviously isn't one. The only requirement for us is that we complete a number of credits, so we could do another couple of modules instead.

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