Tips to feel more in control of your final year dissertation

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So it’s dissertation time. Whether you fall into the ‘I’m so stressed I can’t even think about it’, the ‘bring it on’ camp or somewhere in between – we’ve got you covered. Here’s some tips and reminders to help you feel more in control of your final year dissertation project and where you can find help if you need it.

Save your work

Technology is pretty nifty these days, but we’ve heard enough horror stories for a lifetime. Remember to save and back up your work as often as you can. Losing work and starting again is stress you really don’t need…

Start early and start well

Plan, plan and plan some more!

Think about what modules you enjoyed or what topics interest you. Remember, it will be a long road with this one theme, so make sure you’re really into it and won’t get bored of it.

Start your research waaaay ahead of time. Try to read widely around your subject and chat it through with friends, family or your dissertation supervisor. It will be handy to bounce ideas off of people at this early stage.

Look at a calendar and plan out what you want your progress to look like at different times of the year. You don’t want to be cramming towards the end, so leave enough time for edits and proof reading.

Figure out what you want to say

This is a significant amount of work, so what are you hoping to achieve/prove/explore/debate? A good, structured plan of what you want to say will help you stay on track and avoid rambling or disappearing down rabbit holes. Having a solid proposal will also give you something to come back to if you get stuck.

See where the work takes you

Don’t worry if your dissertation isn’t turning out how you expected it, or if you research data is saying something unexpected. This is great to use in your writing and shows the journey you’ve been on with this piece of work.

Use UWE!

It is really important to attend your dissertation supervisor sessions. Your supervisor will offer you all kinds of support from helping you plan, picking your topic, helping with research and generally being a sounding board. Also, this is your supervisor’s 9-5! They are SUPER interested in what you’re finding out and want to help you explore. Book in some regular catch ups for some double brain power.

Here to help

Remember you have a lot of resources here to help you on your way. As well as your dissertation supervisor, you also have student support services, library support, student success coaches and study skills, which run workshops from critical thinking to improving your writing, as well as our wellbeing team. You can also get your printing and binding done on campus.

Take care of yourself

This is a large piece of work which will take up a lot of your energy, so remember to be gentle with yourself. Take regular breaks, get outside for some fresh air and fuel yourself correctly. Try to lean into your friends and family for some help with proof reading; you’ll be glad for some time away from it and fresh eyes could spot something you’ve missed.

Dissertations are often seen as this big, scary accumulation of your time at university, which sounds terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. Make use of the resources available to you and take it steady. We believe in you.

Introducing MyAttendance

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You know when you haven’t heard from a friend in a while? They’re not answering your texts, and you haven’t seen them out and about in their usual haunts. You get worried.

Well, here at UWE Bristol, we’re the same when it comes to looking out for our students.

We have a duty of care to look out for you; make contact with you regularly and offer help and support when you think you might need it.

And one way we can do this is by logging attendance.

Research shows that when a student becomes disengaged with their course – not turning up for lectures or workshops, failing to hand in work, and not responding to emails – it’s a sign that something could be wrong.

You might be feeling overwhelmed with your workload. Or facing financial struggles. Or going through some personal stuff which is making life difficult.

That’s why we use MyAttendance. It allows us to identify students who might be struggling and reach out to them to offer some support.

And this could be anything from pointing you in the direction of some study support, to potentially stepping in to ensure you receive mental health treatment.

We know that you’re an adult, and we don’t want you to feel like you’re back at school signing a register to let your teacher know you’re here. But, MyAttendance is an important tool to look out for everyone across our community.

So – what do you need to do? It’s simple:

  • Download the MyAttendance app onto your phone.
  • Log in using your UWE Bristol username and password.
  • During teaching sessions, remember to “check in” and log your attendance by using the six-digit code given to you by your lecturer.
  • Don’t share codes with other students! You may feel like you are doing them a favour, but it’s better for everyone if we have an accurate record of who is attending lectures.

For more information, or if you have any questions about how MyAttendance works, you can find everything you need online.

Uncapped resits: the back-up plan you want to avoid

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You may be aware UWE has an ‘uncapped resits’ policy – amazing, right? This means if you are unwell, injured, or something else comes up on the day of your assessment and you are unable to complete it, all is not lost – you’ll have another opportunity.

This is one of many ways UWE supports you in thriving academically while balancing your physical and mental wellbeing.

You must keep in mind, however, that ‘another opportunity’ does not mean the same opportunity. You can find UWE’s full academic regulations online, but in short, resitting an assessment means:

  • You will need to repeat the assessment at a later date – when your friends may have all finished and are enjoying their summer
  • If you end up resitting more than one assessment around the same time, your workload will stack up and may be more demanding than it was before
  • Even if you don’t submit work at the first assessment – your non-submission still counts as an attempt
  • If you don’t pass your resit, you may not progress to the next year
  • If you are in your final year, you may not graduate as planned
  • If this means extending your studies, you will need to pay for another year of tuition
  • If you are an international student, this may have serious implications on your visa or sponsorship
  • If there are any updates to the content of the module, you would need to study any new material

It’s reassuring to know the possibility of resitting is there, but consider it your academic safety net – not a way to procrastinate. ‘Buying time’ will only cost you more later.

If you are in need of support, academic or otherwise, there is a range of different options available to you. Contact a Student Support Adviser, speak to your Academic Personal Tutor or explore our wider Wellbeing Support options.

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