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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!

Are you starting university and need some tips? Here are 10 frequently asked questions by first-years
24. 9. 2021

There are a lot of questions surrounding the start of university student life. How different will it be from college? How to handle the first year? How to enrol and create a schedule? Or, perhaps the most important question ever, how do you make friends? At School Populo, we tutor not only primary and secondary school pupils but also university students. Thanks to that, we know what students most often deal with in their first year at university. We have selected the 10 most frequently asked questions and answered them. How is studying at university different from college? The university environment differs from your previous studies in almost everything. Students have a great deal of responsibility, the trust of lecturers and professors and must learn independence. It is your responsibility to keep track of your assignment deadlines and submission dates. You only attend lectures and seminars few days a week. The rest of the time is for your independent studying. You do not have to excuse yourself from classes at most universities, as attendance is not mandatory. However, it is an excellent practice to contact your lecturers if you are absent for a longer period. Exams and assignment submissions are held only during the assessment period. During the semester, only partial works are submitted at most universities.  How to prepare for university student life? Find out when the semester starts at your university. Once you have access to the university information system or platform, explore it and familiarise yourself with it. Make sure you enrol on your course. Join groups on social networks. Attend meetings organised by your department or your course tutors.  Register for freshers week events - it is a great way to meet new people! Once on campus, take a tour to find out what services are available to you. Find your Students Union and join a sports club or a society. Apply for NUS and ISIC cards to get all the student discounts. How to enrol? Your university will most likely send you an email with the invitation to enrol on your course through the university online information system or platform. During the enrolment, you will be choosing the modules you intend to study in the current academic year. Depending on the programme, you will have compulsory and some optional modules to choose from. The enrolment process is usually completed by sending the payment to the university (self-funded students) or providing Student Finance England or other sponsorship evidence.  When do I get my timetable? Students usually receive their timetable after completing the enrolment and module selection process. You can always contact your Student Centre to get more information. How long is the academic semester? Each academic year is divided into two / three semesters (autumn / spring / summer). Each subject has a teaching weeks period (12-13 weeks) and an assessment period (2-4 weeks).  How does the grading system work at university? You will receive percentage scores for your exams and assessments at university.  100% - 70% counts as excellent to outstanding (First class) 60% - 69% counts as good to very good (Upper second 2:1) 50% - 59% counts as satisfying (Lower second 2:2) 40% - 49% counts as sufficient (Third) Anything below 40% is a Fail.  If you fail, you are allowed to take one referral. If you pass the referral, you can only receive the minimum pass grade. How to succeed and get the best results? Whilst at university, studying and doing only what is required might not be enough. You are expected to engage in broader reading outside of class. We also recommend taking part in different projects or start volunteering. Not only it will look great on your CV, but you will gain real-world work experience. If you play sport or have a favourite hobby, join a society or a sports club. It's a fantastic way to meet people with similar interests. How to study at university? Usually, there are two types of students - those who study continuously throughout the semester and those who leave everything at the last minute. Be it the first or the second case, studying at university requires many hours of independent learning, extensive reading and assignment work. Thus, we recommend creating a learning schedule and studying on an ongoing basis. Regularity is critical both in learning as well as in tutoring. Is there a dress code at university? Students usually dress informally to lectures and seminars unless they have to wear a specific uniform. However, when it comes to exams or presentations, you should wear something more formal than ripped jeans and a hoodie. Always check the requirements with your university.  How to manage the first year at university in times of covid? So far, it seems that the autumn semester of 2021 could do without distance learning. But the situation can change. If distance-learning still affects you, keep a cool head. Keep in touch with classmates and lecturers, study continuously and try staying on top of things. And if you ever feel that you can't do it, contact School Populo. We can help you with subjects that you thought you would never understand.

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