How to write an undergraduate dissertation (and enjoy the process)?

A dissertation is the single longest piece of paper you have probably ever written. It ranges from 10 to 12 thousand words. It might sound scary, overwhelming, daunting. I know — I’ve been there. After submitting my piece and being quite proud of the produced piece, I’ve decided to share some advice on how to save stress, make writing process an enjoyable journey, and submit a piece that is ship-shape and Bristol fashion.

#1 Identify topic you’re passionate about

I love the analogy that was made by one of my lecturers. A dissertation is like a marathon. In order to run 26.2 miles, you need to be consistently adding miles to Nike+ Run Club app (or whatever app you’re using). The absolute key to enjoying the process, staying motivated and achieving goals is doing something you enjoy. Take your time to identify the topic that you’d love to spend the next months researching. Will you find enough material to work with? Will you find people you could potentially interview or interest with your piece? Will you be able to be as excited about this project after the project as you were at the beginning of it?

#2 Start early, plan it well

Many people, including Mary Davoudi, kept telling me to start working on dissertation early on. And this was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received. The earlier you start the less constrained you’ll be. I’ve started researching for my piece over six months before the submission date. This gave me a lot of time to make mistakes, make amendments to my piece, change directions, and explore new things. Meticulous planning will help you in making progress.

#3 Keep it in cloud

I know of people who has lost their work because they didn’t save it. We live in the 21st century. Let’s avoid silly mistakes that could cost us a lot. Dropbox and other alternatives are free. Make sure your work is always secure. Working on the cloud is effortless, yet it can really save you long hours and stress. You can also use Google Docs and write your dissertation straight from your browser.

#4 Work from different places

My Instagram feed has recently seen quite a lot of photos of the coffee from above. I’ve become a (self-proclaimed!) London coffee shops expert. I’ve decided to take a little break from the library walls and start exploring quirky places in the beautiful Capital. They’ve inspired me, made me think, got me talking to some coffee lovers, and gave me some unhealthy, yet incredibly helpful in writing a 10,000-words piece, amount of caffeine in my bloodstream.

I hear my battle symphony. (And disso’s due in two weeks. Feeling confident!) #MarcelWritesDisso

A post shared by Marcel Klebba (@marcelkl) on

#5 Have a playlist

The apt soundtrack is always hugely important factor in my writing process. And I would highly recommend creating a playlist for writing your dissertation. Hans Zimmer, M83, or even Beethoven were my companions while creating the piece and helped me get through the process. Feel free to use the playlist I’ve curated.

#6 Explore, have fun

Apart from choosing the topic that is of your interest, try being topical and be topical. Be bold, be original! Your dissertation can be your way into the industry. I remember talking a lot about my research during some of my job interviews. For some inspiration, see the crowdsourced piece on Stephen Waddington’s blog.

Good luck!

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If you have any suggestions, or would like to give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or see my LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!

Author: Marcel Klebba

Junior Account Executive at M&C Saatchi PR. Working across the corporate & B2B accounts. Freshly graduated from the PR course at the University of Westminster. Interested in current affairs, tech, social and digital.

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