Postgraduate Dissertations and Projects

You will find information about topic approval, supervision arrangements, module registration, etc. in your Course Handbook and most courses also produce a more detailed Dissertation/Project Module Booklet. These questions and answers are to assist you with completing your dissertation and ensure that you hand it in on time, in the proper format.

Course Leaders are responsible for allocating supervisors with appropriate expertise to match your area of research interest. However, it is your responsibility to contact your Course Leader to arrange supervision at an appropriate time. This is particularly important if you are a part-time student as your rate of study can vary.

The amount of actual supervisory contact time will vary between disciplines but you should expect to receive a minimum of at least four hours of contact with your supervisor. You are expected to actively engage with your supervisor, agreeing times and attending supervision sessions, remaining in contact and responding to communications.

Full-time September starters will normally complete their dissertation/project during the Summer Study Period. Full-time February starters will normally be expected to complete their dissertation/project during the second Spring Semester.

Part-time students need to consult their Course Leader/Supervisor as their completion date will depend on their rate of study.

It is important that students have their dissertation registered for the appropriate period (Autumn Semester, Spring Semester or Summer Studies Period) in which they intend to submit.

Here are some general guidelines for the structure/presentation of your dissertation, but you must consult the Dissertation/Project Module Booklet specific to your course, which will provide details of the required length, layout, referencing, etc.

  • The word limit will be specified in your Dissertation/Project Module Booklet. This normally excludes supporting text pages such as the bibliography, indented quotes, footnotes, appendices, etc. as well as tables, graphs, diagrams and similar illustrative material. As a rough guide dissertations/projects are usually between 12,000 to 20,000 words long;
  • It should be word-processed or typewritten;
  • The main text and bibliography should be double-spaced. Other sections, such as indented quotes, footnotes, appendices, etc, can be single-spaced;
  • It should be presented in 12 point font size on one side of each page of white A4 paper;
  • Page numbers should be at the centre foot of each page;
  • Left, right, top and bottom margins should be 2.5cm.

Your dissertation must include the following:

  • Title Page

Full title of study

Full name of author or ID number - you should consult your Supervisor/Dissertation Handbook as some courses require ID No. only

The qualification to which the dissertation relates, using a standard form of words, such as "A dissertation submitted in partial requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the subject of Education"

The institution's name

The month and year of submission

  • Acknowledgements

You should acknowledge those who have assisted, provided information, guidance and advice.

  • Abstract

This is a one-page outline/overview of the work undertaken. It should be no more than 300 words, usually single-spaced type. The abstract normally goes in after the title page but before the contents list.

  • Contents Page

This should indicate chapter titles and page numbers. Lists of illustrations, figures and tables with page numbers should also be inserted at the beginning of your text.

  • Main Body of Work

Students should consult the Dissertation/Project Module Booklet specific to their course as expectation differs depending on discipline/subject area.

  • Reference List / Bibliography
  • Appendices

Most courses expect you to hand in two copies, both of which must be bound. One copy will be available for collection and one will be kept by the University for reference. However, please do check the specific requirements as detailed in your Dissertation Module Handbook.

The binding must be reasonably secure so that leaves cannot easily be removed, lost or replaced. It would be helpful, although not vital, if the front and rear boards are rigid enough to hold the dissertation upright on a shelf, and that it has a navy cover, with gold lettering if possible. (If you want to make properly bound copies you should expect to pay around £15-£20 per volume).

Once you are registered for your dissertation/project you are required to submit in the period for which you are registered and the University's standard assessment arrangements and mitigating circumstances procedures apply. Students are only permitted to withdraw from a module by the end of Week 2 of the first semester of the academic year in which they have enrolled. 

International students that hold a student visa must consult an International Student Adviser (currently located in TMR2-21) if they are unable to start their dissertation/project, as it is a requirement of the Home Office that they are studying full-time if they wish to remain in the UK.

For online guides on academic skills, including conducting and writing up research, see the Study Hub website.

PG dissertations registered in semester 1 23/24 and resubmissions from Summer 22/23 deadline: Monday 8 January 2024 at 3pm

PG dissertations registered in semester 2 23/24 or year-long 23/24 and resubmissions from semester 1 23/24 deadline: Tuesday 7 May 2024 at 3pm

PG dissertations registered in the summer period 23/24 and resubmissions from semester 2 23/24 or year-long 23/24 deadline: Tuesday 17 September 2024 at 3pm

Completed dissertations should be handed into your School Office.

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