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Differences Between an Undergraduate and a Master's Dissertation

Info: 741 words (3 pages) Masters Study Guide
Published: 17th Jun 2021 in Masters Study Guide

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Not all dissertations are the same – and that is certainly the case when comparing and contrasting an undergraduate dissertation and a master's dissertation.

Typically, there is not as big a difference between an undergraduate and a master's dissertation as there is between a master's dissertation and a PhD dissertation or thesis.

However, this guide will point out both the similarities and the differences, so you know what is involved in both projects, helping you transition from an undergraduate degree to a master's degree.

See the table below for an illustration of what is involved with an undergraduate and master's dissertation, and a comparison and contrast between the two types.

Dissertation Component Undergraduate Dissertation Master's Dissertation
Chapter Requirements Same - The chapters for both dissertation types tend to follow the same format and type of information required. Same - Typically, both types of dissertations have an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology description, data and analysis, discussion of results and the conclusion. They also both have a cover page and bibliography section.
Topic Requirements Same- The topic must be feasible, and relevant to your field. Same
Proposal Requirements Different - A proposal may not be required for an undergraduate dissertation. Different - A master's dissertation will usually require a research proposal to be submitted.
Research Requirements Similar - Though not on as deep a level as for a master's dissertation. Similar - Though a master's dissertation may require a deeper level or expanded amount of research. Your course will possibly include training in research methods to further your research skills.
Writing Requirements Similar Similar - Although a master's dissertation does need to have a more sophisticated and higher quality level of writing.
Length Requirements Different - Usually around 10,000 words. Different - Considerably longer than an undergraduate dissertation. Usually around 15,000 words.
Overall Instructions Different - a bit easier. Different - a bit more demanding.


8 Tips for Master's Dissertation Writing Success

While the expectations of the research and writing skill level will exponentially increase from undergraduate to postgraduate level – after all, you are expected to have learned a lot during your undergraduate degree – the same basic tips apply on being successful with the final dissertation report. Here are some tips that apply to both:

  1. Choose your research topic carefully.
  2. Conduct as much research as you can on your subject.
  3. Use an outline to stay organised.
  4. Make good use of a timeline to stay on schedule.
  5. Follow all the directions given and utilise the handbook that is often supplied with the overall research, writing, and formatting instructions.
  6. Never plagiarise and use someone else’s words or ideas without referencing them.
  7. Work on it every day during your project term period. Don’t wait until the last minute!
  8. Proofread, revise, and get feedback and input from your adviser, tutor, professor and peers.

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