Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


Mastering your dissertation: what you need to know

  • 1 Comment

Dissertations can feel like stressful, bumpy car-rides. Here are some tips that can turn the last stretch of your journey to qualifying into a smooth success.

Whether you’ve already handed in the final copy of your dissertation or you’re still trying to pull it together before the deadline, you’ve probably wondered something along the lines of: “what does it take to get a first?”  Well, we’ve got the answers here for you from a lecturer, Professor Alison While, Lecturer in Nursing at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, whose tips and tricks can help you get through the writing process in one piece and passing with flying colours too!

1. Proof-read, proof-read, proof-read!
Professor While says that poor-proofreading is one of the most common reasons students lose marks in their final dissertations – and yes, that means time is key. “Leave enough time to proof-read and improve the final text before submission,” she says. Well-revised dissertations are more likely to make the top band.

2. Get to the point
Clear, well-communicated points which show your understanding of the topic at hand are essential for your climb to the top of the dissertation ladder, according to Professor While. She says that students also tend to lose marks for presenting a piece of unfocused work that “wanders around the topic”.

3. A is for accuracy and argument
It’s no good if you’re expressing yourself clearly but making points that argue the topic poorly. Professor While stresses the importance of a balanced, logical argument that helps you form your own conclusion and shows your understanding of the topic is necessary . She also says that your dissertation needs to be nourished with the correct and accurate terminology: “the dissertation [a first-class] clearly communicates sound knowledge, understanding and insight, using appropriate terminology and has fluent, accurate expression.” And really, how else will you show your tutors that you’ve got this?

4. Back it up
It’s no secret that there’s no way you can scratch a decent score without backing it up with good sources. Professor While says that good knowledge and good application of primary sources are characteristic of a first-class dissertation, so get the good stuff together and get citing!


Tesneem Ayoub is an intern at Nursing Times and in her second year studying journalism and sociology at City University, London

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • I have just come out the other side of the dissertation rollercoaster. If I have any advise for those doing it next year DON'T do it like I did. If it is a research dissertation, get your papers early, check them with the supervisor and crack on ! Write up as you go. I worked damned hard and still struggled, wanting to find the 'perfect' papers. There aren't any 'perfect' papers. Get the best ones you can and go for it. Look after yourself physically and mentally and get support if you need it. My friends on the course were my lifeline, but 4am in a takeaway after no sleep for in an all night cluster is not conducive t good health. And as my tutor said 'keep it in perspective'. It's words on paper... admittedly alot of words on paper but you CAN and WILL do it ! Good luck xx

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.