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How to choose your dissertation topic

Choosing a topic for your dissertation (or final year research project) can be difficult; your dissertation is an important piece of work that accounts for a large number of credits on an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course so it’s important to choose wisely. Are you a student trying to narrow down your ideas to form a single subject? Or are you just planning ahead for a future course? Wherever you are in your education journey, discover our top tips for selecting the perfect topic for you…


1. Select a topic that you find interesting

Your dissertation or research project will take many weeks and months to complete. Therefore, it’s extremely important to choose a topic that you find interesting. Maybe you’ll find a topic that’s focused on your career? Or maybe you’ll be inspired by a subject in another module on your course? Either way, trust us; your motivation for your dissertation will be much easier to maintain if you have passion for the subject area.

Choosing a subject that might also benefit your future career is something that our tutors here at University of Essex Online would definitely recommend; it will give you greater understanding of an in-depth area of your business while also giving you an additional strength when writing a future job application statement.


2. Choose something different

It’s important to choose a unique topic for your project or dissertation to ensure that you have the opportunity to carry out your own research and come to your own conclusions. Finding a completely unique area of research is seldom possible, but perhaps you could consider approaching an already-researched area from a different angle? Or maybe you could develop a unique idea from a smaller topic that hasn’t already been saturated with research?


3. Don’t be too vague

A dissertation or research project must be a tightly-written, academic piece of work. Each sentence should contribute to the construction of the research or argument and the overall piece must follow a clear structure. Choosing an idea that is too broad may make it impossible to explore the topic fully in the word count allowed, and can make it extremely difficult to draw concise conclusions.


4. Don’t be too narrow

While your tutor will encourage you to be succinct, your dissertation still needs to meet the required word count. Focusing on a topic or question that is too small or narrow means that you will struggle to expand on your arguments and draw well-rounded conclusions. Similarly, when you are writing out your proposal, make sure you don’t select a question that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.


5. Research!

Researching your topic is probably the best thing you can do to ensure that you’re choosing the right subject for you. Factor in time well before you need to submit your proposal to research the various topics you’re interested in, and you’ll probably quickly find out whether there are enough resources out there to allow you to expand on your ideas and to support (or contrast with) your position.


6. Be objective

It’s easy to ‘fall in love’ with a topic or subject early on in your research, making you blind to all its weaknesses. Therefore, it’s important to be realistic about the promise and scope of your idea. Try to take a step back from your topic and analyse it from an outsider’s perspective to make sure that you’re not holding onto a weak idea. As long as you have organised your schedule properly, you should still have plenty of time to find another topic.


7. Ask for advice from your tutor

Your tutor is your mentor and guide throughout the process of writing your dissertation. They are there to help you with any question you have, no matter how big or small. When you have an idea for your dissertation or project, and you’ve carried out some preliminary research yourself, schedule some time to talk to your tutor to ask for their advice. Your tutor will have years of experience guiding other students on their choice of topic, so you can be sure to receive some great recommendations.