The third semester of your MSC is dedicated to preparing and writing up your dissertation.

Although it seems like plenty of time, 16 weeks are not a lot and you need to have a plan to make sure you dedicate enough time to each section and leave enough time to writing up, edit and proof read your dissertation before the submission date.

Week 1 to 3 – Literature review

Organise your literature review and get a first draft of the background section; the theoretical background section should always be the first one to be completed: it represents the foundation of your research and gives you a clear starting point for you to build your next sections.

Your background section (together with methodology are also the biggest sections of your dissertation) should be around 5000 words long.

Week 4 and 5 – Methodology section

Prepare you methodology section; at this point you should already know what kind of methodology you are using, and you should be able to write your section, justifying your method of choice and describing it for the reader. The methodology section is a tool for the researcher to carry on his research and a key for the reader to understand your research.

Your methodology section should be around 2000 words long. Note that if you are constructing a questionnaire or preparing a list of questions for interviews, you will have to include it in the dissertation as an appendix (not in the methodology section).

Weeks 6 to week 10 – Data collection and data analysis

This stage of the dissertation will take plenty of time. That is why you need to get to this stage in good time and with a perfectly clear research plan. The time and efforts involved can vary due to the nature of your research design; conducting interviews can take up weeks and you need to consider the time involved in transcribing them; if you are using secondary data, you will need to prepare the dataset before doing your actual analyses; also, sometimes with quantitative data, you might need to repeat the analyses multiple times in order to obtain better results. All this considerations need to taken into account when planning you work within your timeframe.

Weeks 12 to 15 – Writing up your results, discussion and conclusions

It is important that you start writing up the remaining sections of your dissertation in good time. Leaving the writing up stage too late will only end up in a badly written dissertation, with incomplete sections which will look sloppy and unprofessional.

Last week – editing, proof-reading and printing

Finishing the writing up at least a week before the submission date will give you plenty of time to go through the final checks, such as editing tables and bibliography, adding an index, proof-reading and having it ready for submission.

Although the content of your dissertation is the most important element when it comes to assess your work, a well-presented and well-written dissertation will show your attention to details and commitment to the course.