Library & Student Services

Dissertation support from Skills for Learning

Skills for Learning's Academic Skills Tutor, Laura Key, has lots of tips for writing a successful dissertation – and maybe even enjoying it in the process!

Person on laptop

It’s never too late!

Some of you will be nearing the finish line. Others may have barely started. Whatever stage you’re at with your dissertation, there’s still time to pull it round into a solid piece of academic work.

Begin by putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!). When approaching a tricky section or chapter, it’s OK to splurge out ideas on the page to start with (although these will need organising and refining later). Often, getting started is the biggest hurdle.

Use dictation software

If you are struggling to organise your thoughts, you might want to try ‘speaking’ them instead. Nowadays, Word has Dictate built into both desktop and online versions so you can speak your text at the click of a button. 

This can be a helpful starting point if you have lots of ideas. Once you have some text on the page, you can begin to work out what’s useful and what’s not.

Planning will save you time

Once you have an idea of what to write, make a plan. Your work will be far more organised if you plan each section/chapter and stick to it. It’s important for your work to be well structured and logical – things that are hard to achieve without a plan in mind.

See the Skills for Learning website for techniques to help.

Write about what interests you

It's likely that you will find more information about your topic than you could possibly need. How can you be selective? By choosing the part of your topic that captures your imagination. You're much more likely to write convincingly if you're passionate about your subject. Just be sure to select appropriate evidence to support the points you're making.

If you're having the opposite problem - too little information - your topic might be too specific or you might not be looking in the right places. Contact our Academic Librarians for help in finding resources or speak to your supervisor for advice on refining your topic.

Don’t forget to edit and proofread

One of the  most common errors students make is submitting assignments without re-reading them. It’s even more important to make time to edit and proofread a dissertation. Longer pieces of work must be checked carefully to ensure your argument is clear, your evidence is sound, and your spelling, grammar and layout are  accurate.

Attend a Dissertations Workshop

For more tips and information, come along to a Skills for Learning dissertations workshop. Your friendly Academic Skills Tutors will focus on dissertation content, style and language. It’s also the perfect opportunity to ask your burning dissertation-related questions. Look out for the sessions and book your place via MyHub.

You can also check out the dissertations guide on the Library website which signposts to all our dissertation resources on the Skills for Learning website


Originally published March 2021.

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