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Choosing a Dissertation Topic

Info: 705 words (3 pages) Dissertation Writing Guide
Published: 22nd Jun 2021 in Dissertation Writing Guide

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Illustration of students choosing a dissertation topic

Choosing a dissertation topic sounds easy. You have been given the chance to write about something you like, or at least something you feel is worth studying. It’s not like most of the essays you may have written before, which came with titles already attached.

Where do I start?!

So, the starting point to ANY dissertation is choosing a topic. You want to choose something you have an interest in, since you must write thousands of words and read a lot of information about it!

To start getting some ideas together, you could brainstorm a few topics you have an interest in. Think about a module you particularly enjoyed, or an article you read that appealed to you. It could even be something you have never studied before but want to explore further.

Beware, though – not everything you think would be a good topic for a dissertation will actually be a good topic. You might want to look at “Victorian Literature” or “Russian History”, which sound like perfectly valid academic subjects. But they are too vast and will mean that your finished dissertation will either be massively over the word-limit, or else will only skim the surface.

See our dissertation topic examples for some inspiration.

The next step

A dissertation is a unique working project which is a real test of your academic skills and is your biggest chance to show off what you are capable of - so you want it to stand out from everyone else's!

Once you have an idea of a topic, the next stage is to see if it is actually worth writing about. The best way to do this is to see what has already been done. You should be checking journals, articles, textbooks, anything that might contain previous work on the subject.

If people have written about it before, then clearly there is some merit to writing more on it.

However, there is not much point in rehashing the same things that have been written about in the same way. If there is a lot of material already, think about how you can tackle it differently to your peers; try and be original!

If there is little, or nothing, that has been written about the topic before, this can be a sign that there is not enough research to base a dissertation on, but equally, it may mean that the research you do could open up a whole new field!

Just remember, almost everything has to have been studied by someone at some point. All the critical writing about Shakespeare did not materialise out of thin air!

You just have to think very carefully and discuss with your tutor whether there is going to be any academic interest in what you intend to study. If there is, you also want to be sure that someone will be able to supervise the work.


Once you have an idea, go and speak to your tutor or potential supervisor. It may be a good idea to seek a supervisor who has completed academic research in that particular topic so they can best advise you, but rest assured: if this is not possible, all supervisors are experienced and qualified in extensive research.

Checklist for choosing a dissertation topic

  • Jot down your ideas of what you think is interesting, and what is worth studying
  • Remember to not make them too broad, or too narrow
  • Do some research to find out what has been done before and where your work will sit in the canon of work
  • Discuss your ideas with your tutor and potential supervisors
  • Choose something you will enjoy studying, even if it’s not quite what you first had in mind – some of the best dissertations were not the student’s first choice!

If you require assistance with choosing your dissertation topic, take a look at our Dissertation Topic with Titles Service.

The next step will be writing your dissertation title.

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