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Managing your master's dissertation

Dissertations can be daunting and it can be hard to know where to begin!

We’ve rounded up support and expertise from across King’s to help you plan your time, develop your skills and complete your dissertation with confidence.

Get the basics right

It may sound obvious but keeping well can help you manage pressurised situations.

By working late into the night, skipping meals or reaching for quick snacks, it may seem like you are putting your studies first. But these habits are not sustainable in the long run and can affect your concentration.

Prioritising good sleep, drinking enough water and eating nourishing meals will give you the foundations to flourish. Check out this guide to living well on Student Services Online.

Be prepared

Avoid surprises by making sure you understand your department’s requirements and deadlines for dissertations.

If you need to borrow a laptop you can borrow this from King's. Laptop loan cabinets can be found across all our campus libraries. 

Organise your reading list and familiarise yourself with the sources you will use, whether that’s from King’s Libraries & Collections, external archives or participants in your research.

Keep in contact with your supervisor to let them know how you are getting on. Don’t be afraid to ask them for guidance if you feel unsure!

King's College London student

Skill up

There are plenty of resources available to help you develop the skills you need to research, write and edit your dissertation.

King’s Libraries Learning and Skills Service (KLaSS) offers a range of e-learning, covering everything from helping you navigate academic sources and referencing them correctly, making use of Special Collections & Archive material to managing research data. You can also find out more about how Libraries & Collections can support you during your studies on Student Services Online.

If you need to produce a systematic or literature review for your dissertation or want to improve your searching skills then register for a KLaSS workshop. If you want to discuss your research with a librarian you can also do so through the one-to-one appointment service, forums or drop-in sessions.

King’s Academy run online workshops and one-to-one sessions on academic skills for master’s students and you can sign up on their dedicated KEATS pages. From narrowing down your research area through to enhancing your writing and proofreading skills, they can support you during every step of the dissertation process.

Putting pen to paper can feel intimidating, especially if you have been researching for a long time. You could try writing alongside others at Just Write, an online retreat for master’s students who want to work on their dissertation in a collaborative environment. You will be encouraged to set goals for the workshop, holding you accountable to get things done. Sign up on the King's Academic Skills for Learning KEATS page under 'Summer 2022 - Workshops'. Please note that you will need to self-enrol for the course to be able to access the resources.

Two books and a fountain pen

Plan your time

A clear plan of action can help you feel in control.

King’s Academic Skills for Learning on KEATS has tips to for studying smarter and managing your time and your studies. You can also book one-to-one online sessions with Academic Skills Tutors.

Research shows that we can only concentrate for 30 – 45 minutes at a time. Form a plan that is achievable, splitting your research into manageable chunks. Make sure to include breaks and down time away from your desk.

Keeping moving and mindfulness is a great way to clear your head. Pilates, tai chi and yoga are just some of the free online classes available with King’s Sport Move Your Mind. Why not try something new when you need a break?

Remember that routines should be flexible enough to live with. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick strictly to your plan. Writing a dissertation is a long process and you can start afresh tomorrow.

Get the support you need

Support is always available at King’s.

It can be tempting to bottle things up. But talking about how you are feeling with friends and loved ones, the Chaplaincy or your personal tutor, can really help. 

If you are struggling, there are a range of wellbeing services available. You can also reach out to your Faculty Wellbeing and Welfare Advisor and explore your wellbeing with their student e-module.

All students can use Togetherall, a safe space online to get things off your chest and learn how to manage your mental health and wellbeing.

Positive Peers are student partners of KCLSU Wellbeing who promote positive mental health and wellbeing for all students at King’s. Take a look at how they can support you.

You can also connect with your peers on Unibuddy and search for postgraduate students using the 'Level' filter. International Political Economy student, Eric, has written a blog with tips on doing your dissertation.