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Homepage Blog University Choosing a dissertation topic and a supervisor

Choosing a dissertation topic and a supervisor

Choosing a dissertation topic and a supervisor
12. 10. 2021

Are you studying for a degree and need to start thinking about your dissertation? We will advise you on choosing a topic and your supervisor to enjoy the writing process. Our tips will help you to manage everything on time and to be prepared for any unexpected situations. 

1. Start thinking about your topic as soon as possible

Depending on the degree you are studying for, your time for thinking about your thesis topic and initially conducting your research varies. Undergraduates often don't start thinking about their dissertation until the end of the second year. However, the time is limited on postgraduate courses, as the course usually lasts only one year. It is, therefore, helpful to start with researching your topic as soon as possible

Ensure that you have completed or are enrolled on all the modules you need to write your thesis (e.g. Research Skills, Research Methodologies, Independent Study and similar). It will give you an overview of the research methods available to you and the specific requirements for your thesis. These depend on many factors, such as your university, your programme and even your supervisor. 

We recommend you to find out in advance how your faculty usually chooses topics. Some students are given topics to choose from; others have to come up with their own topic. Either way, it is essential to conduct a preliminary literature review and find the gap you would like to address with your research. 

2. Note down all the critical deadlines

Find out the deadline for submitting a dissertation topic and when and how to submit your research proposal and ethics form. 

When writing the thesis, make sure you agree with your supervisor on individual deadlines. Some supervisors will want to see your work throughout the writing process, and some will be happy with the complete draft. 

Make sure you know the deadline for submitting the final version (printed and electronic). When submitting the printed version, allow at least three days for printing and binding.

3. Choose the topic of your thesis with a view to your future career or your interests

If you are lucky enough to know already you would like to pursue a career in research and continue with your PhD, use your undergraduate or postgraduate research as a starting point. 

The thesis may also be your selling point in your resume. If you have a practical topic, do not hesitate to address a specific institution or company and write a thesis with their help. It can be your stepping stone to your first dream job.

4. Choose a topic to get into the flow

What is the key to a successful dissertation? A theme you enjoy. Choose a topic that interests you, and you look forward to reading more about it

5. When choosing a supervisor, consider your sympathies

The theme must be of your interest, that is 100% true. But if you have a supervisor with whom you are not on good terms, even the best topic will not save you. If you haven't consulted your thesis topic with anyone, you might be assigned a supervisor based on your topic and their expertise. Therefore, think about the case with regard to the thesis supervisor. In what field do they specialize? Ask classmates how they got along with them. Is the supervisor willing to communicate? Do they consult continuously? Are they available to students? Do they respond to emails?

You can also check how the supervisor graded previous students. You cannot always judge the supervisor's work only based on the grades. However, if the last ten theses received minimum grades, perhaps it is not the best choice. 

6. How do you know you have a good topic and a good supervisor?

How do you know that you have chosen a good topic? Relevant resources are available for the topic. It is specific, your aim and objectives are set, and you have chosen an appropriate research method. 

And how do you know that you have chosen a good supervisor? You are meeting regularly; they answer your emails, support you and motivate you in the process. Remember, your supervisor is there for you, so do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

7. Resources in foreign languages? 

Are any relevant resources for your topic only available in German, French, Spanish or another foreign language? At School Populo, we will be happy to help you understand these resources and improve your language skills. We specialize in tutoring all students - including university students. Contact us or choose from the subjects we tutor on our website.

Good luck!

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