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Full guide on how to write a dissertation

Centre for Educational Studies

Faculty of Education

Taught Postgraduate
Programmes in Education



This handbook is available on request in alternative formats from the Department


Preface 4

1. Overview of the Dissertation 5
1.1 What is a dissertation all about? 5
1.2 What is expected(FHEQ & University) 5
1.3 Aims of the dissertation 6
1.4 Finding a topic area 6
1.5 Writing an initial proposal 7
1.6 Forms of support 7

2. Getting Started 9
2.1 Discussing with the supervisor 9
2.2 Refining and then writing a final proposal 9
2.3 Planning the progress 9
A typical structure of an empirical dissertation 10
A typical structure of a non-empirical dissertation 10
An example of a monthly plan 11
2.4 Planning the support 11
An example of a monthly plan, including plans for support 11

3. Literature 12
3.1 Literature and the research question, for empirical research 12
3.1.1 Introduction 12
Qualities of a literature review 12
Purpose of the literature review 13
3.1.2 Starting reading, and note-taking 14
3.1.3 Stopping reading, and finding the argument in the literature 14
3.1.4 Writing the literature review, and the research question 15
3.1.5 Discussing the literature review with the supervisor 17
3.2 Literature and its analysis, for non-empirical research 17
3.2.1 Introduction 17
3.2.2 Concepts and meanings beyond education 18
3.2.3 Discussing the literature review with the supervisor 18

4. Methodology 19
4.1 For Empirical Research Dissertations 19
4.1.1 Introduction 19
4.1.2 Broad approach (‘methodology’) 19
4.1.3 Research tools (‘methods’) 19
4.1.2 Ethical approval 20
4.1.3 Discussing the methodology chapter with the supervisor 20
4.2 Research Methodology in a Non-empirical Study 21

5. Conducting Empirical Research 21
5.1 Introduction 21
5.2 Collecting and recording data 22
5.2 Initial analysis of data 22
5.4 Presentation of data 23
5.5 Discussing the empirical research with the supervisor 23


6. Discussion, conclusions and recommendations 23
6.1 Introduction 23
6.2 Summarising the dissertation to this point (synthesis) 23
6.3 Discussion and critical analysis in the light of the literature 23
6.4 Reflective conclusions & recommendations of ways forward 24
6.5 Discussing these chapters with the supervisor 24

7. Writing and presenting the final dissertation 24
7.1 Academic writing and presentation conventions 24
7.2 Accuracy 24
7.3 Analysis 25
7.4 Critique 25
7.5 Theory and Practice 26
7.6 Proof Reading and printing 26
7.7 Submitting the dissertation 26
7.8 Assessment 27

8. Extensions 27

9. Reading and other sources of
Information for researchers 28


1. Preparing a Dissertation for a Taught Higher Degree 29



Welcome to the Dissertation Handbook for Postgraduate Taught (PGT) programmes, from the Faculty of Education. This handbook sits alongside the Handbook of General Guidance for the PGT programmes (issued to all students at the beginning of each academic session) which are available on eBridge.

The dissertation is a significant piece of the assessment process and for nearly everyone the most substantial piece of research they will complete. It is also a chance to follow a personal and professional interest through to its evidence-based conclusion.

Because the dissertation is so individual, and you will be working with an individual supervisor, it is difficult to be precise about the whole process. The guidance here is intended to combine the wisdom of many supervisors and students over the years, but it cannot provide a straightforward recipe for completion and success.

So, whether or not you need it, good luck with the dissertation: may it be what you would like it to be.


1. Overview of the dissertation

1.1 What is a dissertation all about?

Before you begin work on your dissertation process it is a good idea to ensure you have an overall picture of what is involved, of what will be expected of you and of various regulations and procedures governing this aspect of your programme. It is worth looking though and reading as much as possible of the whole of this handbook as a first activity.

Once you have done that, you should focus on the materials in this chapter. Make notes of key points and of any questions or queries requiring clarification or further exploration, and keep these notes for future reference.

1.2 What is expected (FHEQ and University)
The expectations for postgraduate (masters) degrees can be described in many ways. Here, we have included the national ‘framework’ document for masters-level qualifications. Although this changes from time to time, it is a helpful guide to what all masters degrees, in
every subject, are likely to have in common.

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
– England, Wales and Northern Ireland: August 2008

Master’s degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

• a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice
• a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
• originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret
knowledge in the discipline
• conceptual understanding that enables the student:

o to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline
o to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.
Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

• deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
• demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
• continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.
And holders will have:

• the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
o the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
o decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations
o the independent learning ability required for continuing professional


1.3 Aims of the Dissertation

The dissertation provides students with an opportunity to develop their interests through independent and in-depth research within an area appropriate to the broad focus of the PGT programme they have followed and to demonstrate the ability to write in a scholarly manner appropriate to Level 7 work (see FHEQ, above). It is the final large scale piece of work which builds on skills and understanding gained from previous modules.

The dissertation is based on wide reading and research undertaken by the student into an issue of personal interest that relates to the focus of the programme they have studied. Students may choose to satisfy dissertation requirements in a variety of approved ways, so demonstrating at Level 7 appropriate skills of literature search and selection, critical analysis, evaluation and usually some primary or secondary research in a sustained piece of writing which shows coherent discussion leading to conclusions and recommendations.

The dissertation is a valuable learning experience in its own right, but should also contribute to the progression of the candidate’s career. It should provide an opportunity to show others the benefits derived from the programme in terms of knowledge, skills and perspectives gained by the candidate.

1.4 Finding a topic area

There are many sources of inspiration for a topic for the dissertation. Read through the following list:

* For most PGT programmes, you will have completed a number of previous assignments and dissertations. Look through them, and see what ‘unfinished business’ there is there. What would you like to follow-up? What would you like to do something about? What would you like to re-used? What (or who) would you like to prove wrong?

* The dissertation, like the assignments and dissertations, should provide ways of making your job easier, better, more effective, more interesting, and so on. Choose a ‘work issue’ that matters to you. It may be the use of assessment, the relationship of the school to its community, the systems of management, your status as a professional: anything that matters to you. In any such topic, there will be a possibility for a dissertation topic.

* Related to the previous point, you could think about your own professional development, and where you would like to be in the future, and use this as an inspiration for research. For example, someone wanting to go into management, might study management, someone wanting to be a subject leader might study subject management, someone wanting to change phase (between primary, secondary and FE) might want to compare their current and potential future rôle, and so on.

* Look at education books that you find valuable – perhaps books you own, or books in the bookshop or library. There should be something there, perhaps just a title or a single quotation that can inspire you.

* Do the same exercise with journals. Spend a couple of hours in the university library, or


on the electronic library, just browsing, until something catches your eye.

* Do the same exercise with government documents and websites. The UK Department for Education has a specialist research site (, but any of the many government and agency sites can provide a stimulus to dissertation research.

* You may be inspired by a particular research tool. Books on research (in the reading list, below), and articles and books that themselves report on research, will include many other useful examples. Some you may find an inspiration – either in themselves, or as a result of having piloted them previously, in your work for module assignments and dissertations. A research tool can, surprisingly often, be the key inspiration for a whole dissertation.

* Ask people what they would like you to do, or what the biggest puzzle is for them about education. You could ask friends and people you know in the local community (all of whom will have ideas on education), colleagues, university tutors: anyone.

* To continue the previous point, the most useful co-researchers are likely to be participants themselves. Why not ask students what questions about education they would like you to investigate?

1.5 Writing an initial proposal

After having got an inspirational idea you need to work this up into a proposal. You should not worry too much if the proposal is sketchy at this stage, as you will talk you a supervisor about it, before getting too heavily involved in the dissertation. What is important is that you are able to express what the topic is, why it is important to you, and where it ‘fits’ in the academic world. That last point means trying to find relevant examples from the research literature (from books and articles and government documents) that are on the same or a closely related topic.

This initial indication of your area of focus does not need to be very long and only up to a page in length.

1.6 Forms of support

There are six key forms of support:

• the supervisor
• colleagues
• fellow students
• friends and family
• study advice (and related) services
• written and electronic guidance.

The importance of each type of support varies from student to student, but it is worth thinking about each of them, as you are about to start the dissertation – and again as you
reach critical moments.


* The supervisor is clearly important. A supervisor normally will be someone who has an interest in the work you are doing. At this level of work, the supervisor will not always know more about the topic than you (eventually) do: their role is to support your investigation, not to ‘tell you the answers’. A typical dissertation supervisor might see you for tutorials six times, with each tutorial being quite substantial. The more information you can give to a supervisor in advance, the more effective the tutorials are likely to be: going along to a series of tutorials saying ‘I have not had time to do anything since the last tutorial’ is not likely to be productive. If the investigation takes longer than expected, it is assumed that you and the supervisor would normally simply spread the tutorials out more thinly, rather than having more and more tutorials. It is not really the supervisor’s job to tell you to work, incidentally: a supervisor will support your work, but is not expected to take responsibility for your progress or to ‘tell you off’ for ‘not doing your work’.

* Work-based colleagues are often surprisingly important sources of support. Try to get them interested as early as possible. Ask them how to do the work, tell them interesting things you have found out, and so on. This will all provide a great incentive to keep going (even if this is just people saying ‘how’s the dissertation going?’) and, therefore, a great deal of support.

* Fellow students certainly know what you are going through. One of the most common questions asked in tutorials, is ‘how are the others getting on?’. This is in large part a way of judging yourself (am I slower or faster than the others?), but is also a sign of the value of other students to discuss – and complain about – the dissertation. It is possible to do joint work on dissertations, for example, creating a research tool that is used in your workplace and the workplace of a fellow student, in order to compare. It is tremendously helpful if dissertation students supply information about their research to other students in person (e.g. in a group tutorial) so that people can comment.

* Friends and family, like fellow students, often provide emotional support. It is worth thinking how much practical support they can also offer. Friends and family are often useful proof-readers, checking either on the accuracy or the clarity of what you write. Do not assume that only those with masters degrees can advise on these things: clarity should be clarity for all readers, and inaccuracy is often easily spotted by any reader (other than the writer).

* The university provides systems of support that are independent of your supervisor and tutors. The university’s Study Advice Services provide face-to-face, electronic and paper advice on academic and related matters.

* Written and electronic guidance can easily be overlooked, in part because when you are wanting support, it is often the ‘human’ side of the support that is most important. However, it is worth avoiding asking about things when the answers (like the truth) are already ‘out there’. This handbook, and the accompanying handbooks (the general handbook), has much of what you might need to know. Something as straightforward as a computer spell-checker, thesaurus, and grammar-checker can provide invaluable support.

It is not a form of support, but a safety net that will be important for all dissertation


students: keep all your own notes and files and other information: keep even what you do not think you will need. You may end up needing all kinds of things.

You should submit your dissertation proposal to the Postgraduate Office, Room 363, Wilberforce Building.

The Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes will liaise with the Course Leaders to discuss submitted proposals and allocate suitable members of staff to supervise each study.

You will be formally notified of your supervisor with his/her current contact details.

2. Getting started

2.1 Discussing with the supervisor

The first contact is important and you need to ask for the first meeting with your supervisor. This is to make it clear that you are, and will continue to be, in charge of the process of writing the dissertation. It is the clearest indication of the difference between being a dissertation student and being a student at earlier stages of your programme.

You should contact the supervisor and arrange the initial meeting/conversation/on-line discussion, perhaps also letting the supervisor have copies of other ideas you have about the dissertation. The first meeting may vary, depending on how you have approached the dissertation to date, from ‘I don’t really know what to do’, to ‘I’ve got a very clear plan here, and need you to confirm that it is appropriate’. Supervisors will be used to both approaches, and all most other approaches.

As a result of the initial discussion you should be in a position to refine the proposal and plan its progress and forms of support that might be needed.

2.2 Refining and then writing a final proposal

All the activity until now should have generated a refined dissertation proposal. That proposal will say something about your personal and professional reasons for choosing the topic, something about the literature (the theories and/or empirical research already published on the topic), and something about the ways in which you intend to collect evidence Be aware that it is possible to undertake an investigation where you find new data (an empirical study) or where you use the findings or publications of others to provide your evidence base (a non-empirical study).

2.3 Planning the progress

Once a proposal exists, you can draft a plan for the progress of the whole dissertation. A quick month-by-month plan is usually sufficient. Without it, you may well find the months going by without doing much; with it, you will know the answer to the question ‘am I falling behind my schedule?’, or ‘can I finish in time?’ The elements that make up a typical
dissertation, for which you will need to plan, are:


A typical structure of an empirical dissertation Abstract – an outline of all key issues and findings in 300 words or less Introduction: no more than 2000 words.
Literature review: between 3-5000 words, perhaps covering up to 50 references, but focusing on a much small key group of texts and written around an argument.

Methodology (i.e. approach to the research as well as the actual methods): about 3000 words.

Results: about 3000 words or equivalent.

Discussion: (to include anlaysis and critical review) – between 3-5000 words;

Conclusions and recommendations: about 3000 words.

A typical structure of a non-empirical dissertation Abstract: an outline of all key issues and findings in 300 words or less Introduction: no more than 2000 words.
Literature: between 3-5000 words, perhaps covering up to 50 references, but focusing on a much small key group of texts and written around an argument. These will often literature from beyond education (e.g. from historical sources or from philosophy), as well as educational literature. If it is an historical study, the literature may include archives and other sources that need careful handling and references.

Implications: about 4000 words, including analysis of the literature in terms of the dissertation’s concerns, in its current context. It may include detailed work on the nature of the references and so on, especially for historical research.

Discussion: to include anlaysis and critical review) – between 3-5000 words;

Conclusions and recommendations: about 3000 words.

An example of a month-by-month plan is described below. It was appropriate for one particular student. Every other student is different, and every dissertation, like every student and every pupils, has a life of its own that sometimes breaks free of whatever plans we have

For full-time students this means you need to be thinking and working on your dissertation very soon after the start of the course. For those starting in Semester 1 that normally means November; for those starting in Semester 2 that normally means February.

Part-time students may commence their study towards the end of the taught programme
and usually after they have successfully completed the module ‘Introduction to Research
Methods in Education’.


An example of a monthly plan

* Months 1 & 2: bring together previous reading, create list of reading still to be done, start reading.

* Month 3: complete first draft of literature review (which will inevitably grow during the rest of the year); plan methodology in detail.

* Month 4: write methodology and plan when/how to complete the original research.

* Month 5: complete original research.

* Months 6-7: write-up results.

* Month 8: first draft of discussion/conclusions.

* Month 9: re-view whole dissertation and produce first full draft.

* Month 10: complete dissertation.

2.4 Planning the support

Along with planning the progress of the dissertation, it is worth thinking about planning for the kinds of support you will need for the dissertation. Looking back at the list of forms of support (above), some forms of support should be added to your monthly plan. This has been done for the example above.

An example of a monthly plan, including plans for support
* Months 1-2: bring together previous reading, create list of reading still to be done, start reading.
Tutorial with supervisor. Ask colleagues to help.

* Month 3: complete first draft of literature review (which will inevitably grow during the rest of the year); plan methodology in detail. Tutorial with supervisor. Send draft literature to fellow students doing similar topics, for comments and additions.

* Month 4: write methodology and plan when/how to complete the original research. Tutorial with supervisor.

* Month 5: complete original research. Tutorial with supervisor. Discuss with colleagues.

* Months 6-7: write-up results. Tutorial with supervisor. Show results to friends or family, for comments on what seems interesting and meaningful to them.

* Month 8: first draft of discussion/conclusions. Go through this handbook, to check for any elements not included that should be, or included that should not be. Provide summary to date to several fellow-students (or arrange a group tutorial with them), to check for clarity and any further ideas.

* Month 9: re-view whole dissertation and produce first full draft. Check any problems of writing style with the Study Advice Service. Ask friend or family member to proof-read the whole dissertation.

* Month 10: complete dissertation.


3. Literature

3.1 Literature and the research question, for empirical research

3.1.1 Introduction

Postgraduate students need to demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant literature. How students might explore the relevant literature, and how he supervisor can help, are the topics of this section of the chapter. Literature reviews are likely to be quite different in dissertations that are historical, or purely conceptual, or address a single author or text and so on. Those other forms are addressed in the next section.

A simple list of qualities that the literature review needs to demonstrate (which would be similar to the qualities of the whole dissertation) include the list below:

Qualities of a literature review

* focused (with a ‘golden thread’ running through it),
* realistic (or achievable),
* relevant (to the topic and the rest of the dissertation),
* thorough (lacking large holes),
* current (with respect to both theory and practice),
* critical (not merely descriptive),
* succinct (and about 3000 to 5000 words).

Broadly, a literature review can be the place where ideas and previous research might make the whole dissertation conceptually coherent. Strauss and Corbin (Basics of Qualitative Research, 1990), says this of literature reviews in quantitative and qualitative (in their case,
‘grounded’) research:

* In quantitative research ‘the literature has very specific uses. It enables the user to identify previous research in an area, as well as to discover where there are gaps in understanding. It also suggests theoretical and conceptual frameworks that might be used to guide quantitative research projects and to interpret their findings. Then, too, the technical literature helps the research to delineate important variables for study and suggests relationships among them. All of these uses are important in quantitative studies because, for the most part, investigators are concerned with testing the relationships among variables, or determining how they cluster. They must know before beginning a study what the variables of interest are, then know how to interpret the findings arrived at through standard modes of testing’ (p 49).

* ‘In contrast, with grounded theory research, rather than testing the relationships among variables, we want to discover relevant categories and the relationships among them; to put together categories in new, rather than standard ways. So, if you begin with a list of already identified variables (categories), they may – and are indeed very likely to – get in the way of discovery. Also, in grounded theory studies, you want to explain phenomena
in light of the theoretical framework that evolves during the research itself; thus, you do


not want to be constrained by having to adhere to a previously developed theory that may or may not apply to the area under investigation. … [I]t [therefore] makes no sense to start with “received” theories or variables (categories) because these are likely to inhibit or impede the development of new theoretical formulations, unless of course your purpose is to open these up and to find new meanings in them. … You will come to the research situation with some background in the technical literature and it is important to acknowledge and use that. However, there is no need to review all of the literature beforehand (as is frequently done by researchers trained in other approaches), because if we are effective in our analysis, then new categories will emerge that neither we, nor anyone else, had thought about previously. We do not want to be so steeped in the literature as to be constrained and even stifled in terms of creative effort by our
knowledge of it!’ (p 49-50)

Purpose of the literature review

In other words – in a very brief summary of the above – the literature review should help a student find:

* variables (the qualities that go on the axes of graphs, in quantitative work, or that the student is trying to demonstrate a connection between – for example, social class and achievement),

* theories and (their) concepts (definitions of which are always usefully quoted, as it is not a good sign if key concepts are defined using dictionary definitions),

* information,

* ‘gaps’ (and therefore opportunities for being ‘original’).

A longer list of the functions of the literature review might be:

• establishing the provenance of the research;
• contextualising the topic;
• clarification of the research question;
• definitions of the concepts;
• review of previous relevant research;
• identifying gaps in previous research;
• generate criteria to inform data-collection;
• develop an analytical conceptual framework;
• identification of significant variables;
• prioritisation of variables;
• synthesis of knowledge;
• synthesis of arguments;
• providing a normative, ostensive or analytic framework;
• and presentation of criteria, research questions or hypotheses.

And later:
• reconciling the literature with the data:
• criteria as the analytical structure;


• reconciling data with criteria; justification,
• exemplification, and implications;
• combinations, modification or denial of criteria;
• and articulation of emergent theory.

3.1.2 Starting reading, and note-taking

There is a whole set of issues about how a student keeps notes of what they have read. These notes should include full bibliographical details (so that the book or source of information can be found again) and page numbers. The notes should also record the difference between quotations and paraphrases. The next question is how to start reading?

First, a big ‘overview’ book might be a help for understanding what comes next as it can provide the framework within which other reading can be placed. An important skill of a supervisor, then, is knowing of important, authoritative, overviews of the subject area. Other members of the department can usually help with this, too.

Once the overview has been found:

• The student might start with a good recent book made up of a collection of recent articles in the area. The articles themselves should be useful, and the bibliographies will also be useful;

• An electronic journal search would also be useful.

• Reviewing current and recent journals in the library, looking at the articles (and their bibliographies) and reviews, is always useful.

• Wandering around is useful. For example, the student might try looking at library shelves near the shelves on which a book known to be useful is kept, or wandering around bookshops – as bookshops may be more up-to-date than libraries. (This includes wandering around electronic bookshops such as Amazon, as well as high street shops.) If the supervisor or the student know of particular authors, try finding their own web-pages, for example in university departments, and see what they are writing at the moment.

3.1.3 Stopping reading, and finding the argument in the literature

A further question is when to stop reading? Many students carry on reading for the literature review, long after it is useful. Perhaps this is because reading can be more comforting than writing. Supervisors often, therefore, have to say ‘stop reading’. Here is some advice to students:

• Stop when you have enough coverage to complete the rest of the research – even if you intend going back and doing some more reading later.

• Stop when conceptual or theoretical clarity turns to confusion. A supervisor might have to help at this point, especially if the confusion is simply a lack of understanding of key issues, rather than having too many key issues to consider.

• Stop when the body of reading is becoming ‘linear’ rather than ‘organic’. In other words, when you pursue leads that take you into new areas, without ever adding to the old areas.

This last point is vital. Once the reading is ‘organic’, it should provide the basis for a good argument. You might like to think of yourself, as the student, as a barrister in a court case, with the literature being the ‘expert witnesses’ and ‘character witnesses’ in your case. You do not call these witnesses randomly and do not simply ask them to say whatever you want: you try to make a compelling ‘story’ from the various witnesses, calling witnesses to say exactly what is needed for the ‘case’ you are making, and no more. There should be a point, therefore, when you can make the literature into such an ‘argument’. At that point, stop reading. The argument can then be edited in to the literature review, making it flow more smoothly and increasing its impact.

3.1.4 Writing the literature review, and the research question

The art of writing about literature requires a subtle sense of how to ‘attribute’ (i.e. to give credit to the source). Forms of attribution are therefore important. For example, students might analyse the differences between:

• ‘Scott proves that …’
• ‘Scott attempts to prove that …’
• ‘Scott hinted at …’
• ‘Scott may have been influenced by …’
• ‘Scott says that …’,
• ‘Scott suggests that …’
• ‘Scott considers …’
• ‘Scott was able to conclude …’

(Incidentally, really bad attribution is plagiarism; this occurs in masters literature reviews when a student clearly hasn’t read the original text but is copying views of another author, and treating them as their own.)

Critically reflecting or analysing the work of others is sometime culturally challenging and some students may have difficulties with this. Some postgraduate students, for example, have been taught to reflect back the literature rather than to critically evaluate. What you are looking to do in a dissertation is to make some sort of judgement about the quality of the literature and/or research being presented (see above, for example, regarding the findings of ‘Scott’). This is very much encouraged in dissertations so students should be prepared to make such judgments.

The literature review itself is an argument, not a descriptive list (not ‘a simple repetition of the sources’). Joining parts of sentences or ideas are therefore important:

• ‘however’,
• ‘despite’
• ‘not only’
• ‘although’,

• ‘therefore’,

This needs to be linked to indicate that judgements are being made. For example:

• ‘the most significant aspect of this seems to be’,
• ‘the author addresses many issues and yet there is no …’,

Warning: Although the review is a critical argument try to avoid putting in too many of the dissertation’s conclusions during the literature review. There should be no ‘and I found out that …’ sorts of phrases in the literature review. In other words, keep the final conclusions until the later chapters and at this point of the dissertation simply write (critically) about the literature.

Advice: Reading the starts of other people’s literature reviews is often useful. There is a common pattern of starting with the big overview and narrowing to a sharp focus as the ideas develop. This is referred to as a process of ‘funnelling’ where you try to alternate between narrowing, broadening and narrowing the discussion until it is clear precisely what you intend to investigate:

• The funnelling starts with the whole field, gradually narrowing to a small area of the field that has had only a small amount of research completed in it. This ‘narrowest point’ may include one key text or author, or it may (unusually at this level) have a complete lack of texts. The student is hoping to fill the gap (if there is one) or increase the body of evidence in a rather thin area.

• broadening involves describing the literature that will be used to support the research in a narrow area. It might involve looking at books and materials in other related subject areas that could be applied here ( Psychology as well as Education), or looking at research books and articles that could support your investigation.

• In general, the literature review should be written in sections, starting with an introduction to the literature (doing some of the ‘narrowing’ work), followed by several sections with each section covering a particular area of the topic (doing the final bits of ‘narrowing’, and most of the ‘broadening’), followed by a conclusion that should identify and justify the research question(s).

Ending with the research question is a good discipline. The dissertation has its ‘topic’ right at the start, but the specific research question – what it is that you are expecting your research to find out – will need to seem to emerge from out of the literature.

Incidentally, you may need reminding of the association of the literature review and the eventual list of references – so you might want to practice writing bibliographical entries (an annoying stumbling block for many masters students), and seeing how the bibliography is growing. There are, incidentally, some computer programmes that write bibliographies (see EndNote, for example).


3.1.5 Discussing the literature review with the supervisor

There are many things to discuss. One of the most common things to look at is the qualities that will contribute to a high mark. The masters mark scheme requires, for the top mark:

1. a high level and systematic understanding of theoretical perspectives and a critical awareness of current issues;
2. extensive analysis of alternative viewpoints, with original commentary and a critical synthesis;
3. clarity of structure and effective presentation;
4. originality in the application of knowledge to practice;
5. critical evaluation of current research, and of methodological issues where appropriate;
6. extensive content with appropriate selection of coverage.

The literature review should make the major contribution to points 1 and 5, and significant contributions to point 2 (especially the first half). It will also to an extent contribute to, or exemplify, each of the other points.

In general, examiners look for

* Length: how many references – perhaps three for every thousand words of the whole dissertation? (I.e. for a 5000 word assignments and dissertation, fifteen references, for a 15 000-word dissertation, up to fifty references, for a 80 000-word thesis, about 250 references.)

* Critical analysis without necessarily being rude about anything. On the whole, an element in the literature that has no significance or only negative qualities should not be included.

* Relevance, i.e. how the literature review informed the research question and the later analysis and conclusions of the research. The best literature review in the world will not gain credit, unless it is ‘used’ throughout the dissertation and especially in the chapters of analysis, discussion and conclusions. This may be stressed at the end of the literature review chapter itself.

* Currency – the more up-to-date, the better. Electronic journals help with this.

* Avoidance of huge gaps. Your supervisor should be in a position to help judge this, but you should take a responsibility yourself, of course. If necessary, you should at least say what the gaps are, even if they cannot fill those gaps.

3.2 Literature and its analysis, for non-empirical research

3.2.1 Introduction

Dissertations that do not use original data (i.e. what has been collected by the student) are allowed, but still need to address most of the issues to be found in Section 3.1 (above), so you are advised to read that section as well as this one.


In general, non-empirical research is likely to be concept-driven. An example might be: ‘An Analysis of the Contributions made by Researchers to Leadership and Management of Educational Change’. In this example the concept is ‘Change’ (in the context of education). What we would expect from a student submitting such a dissertation would be a critical analysis of the research undertaken by the various contributors to the field, with the student being able to make a judgement about the strength and quality of the claims made within that contribution. In addition you can include concepts from beyond education (from history, philosophy and anthropology, for example) and also from current educational debate (like a proposed government policy).

3.2.2 Concepts and meanings beyond education

History-based educational research can have a variety of forms. There are nevertheless likely to be common features. There should be a survey of the current literature concerned with the topic, and a background to the period, i.e. the situation in the immediately preceding period. The dissertation should add new information to an existing problem or period by adding new archival source material or by critiquing existing stances by historians. It might analyse new archival material, or analyse archival material that is already in print. There should be an appropriate list of references which may include accurate archival references.

Philosophical research, similarly, can have a variety of forms. Two typical forms used in educational philosophy research are to trace a particular concept through a number of authors or documents (for example, applying to education theories of justice developed since the second world war), or analysing a key issue in an individual writer (for example, a study of education and the state in the writings of Hegel).

Current educational debate

Non-empirical research in education will almost inevitably be applied to current educational issues and literature, either in the body of the dissertation, or at least to an extent in the conclusion and discussion.

The same kinds of advice on educational writing can be included here as in the ’empirical’ section, above.

3.2.3 Discussing the literature review with the supervisor

As well as the advice in the ’empirical’ section, above, it is worth adapting the section on what examiners looks for, in non-empirical research. In general, examiners look for

* Length: how many references – a very wide variety here, as a philosophical study of the educational philosophy of Hegel might have only ten or twenty references, whereas a piece of archival research on the history of a school might have a couple of hundred references.

* Critical analysis without necessarily being rude about anything. On the whole, an element in the literature that has no significance or only negative qualities should not be



* Relevance, i.e. how the literature informed the later analysis and conclusions of the research. The best literature review in the world will not gain credit, unless it is ‘used’ throughout the dissertation and especially in the chapters of analysis, discussion and conclusions. This may be stressed at the end of the literature chapter itself.

* Currency – for some non-empirical studies, currency (i.e. how up-to-date the research is) should not matter much. However, it is always a good idea to try to make any dissertation current, if only in the discussion and conclusions. Electronic journals help with this.

* Avoidance of huge gaps. Your supervisor should be in a position to help judge this, but you should take a responsibility yourself, of course. If necessary, you should at least say what the gaps are, even if they cannot fill those gaps.

4 Methodology

4.1 For Empirical Research Dissertations

4.1.1 Introduction

There is a great deal on methodology in all the handbooks, as it seeps into every piece of education research – your own research and published research. It would be inappropriate to try to cover all methodological issues here. Indeed, the best advice of all, especially those who have not settled on specific methods, would be to make good use of one of the several excellent general methods texts (see list of references for this handbook).

Most methodology chapters will start broad and get narrower. That is the pattern of the following two sections.

4.1.2 Broad approach (‘methodology’)

This is where you link back to your literature review (which will normally end with the research question), and explain what kind of approach you will take to the empirical research. One of the most common ways of dealing with this is to compare Quantitative and Qualitative approaches and say how you will choose your own balance between these approaches. A similar contrast can be made between Positivistic and Interpretive (or phenomenological) approaches. It can seem a little daunting, to tackle such issues in a relatively short dissertation chapter. You should avoid simply describing these approaches: you should, instead, try to explain why they are more-or-less important to you and your research.

4.1.3 Research tools (‘methods’)

Research tools include techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, and observation methods. Each of these methods can be used for:

• surveys (overviews of a wide range of situations)


• comparative studies (comparing groups, organisations, or societies)
• case-studies (an in-depth look at a single group or organisation).

Remember to make good use of a technique you understand. There are no marks for asking hundreds of people an inappropriate question and then failing to analyse the responses effectively; you will get far higher marks asking a smaller number of people a clear question and analysing the responses in a way that makes sense to you (first) as well as the examiner. Full guidance can be found in the methods textbooks in the list of references for this handbook.

4.1.2 Ethical approval

All research must be ‘ethical’, but all research across the Faculty of Education has to have been given ethical approval. This is a relatively straightforward two-stage process.

• The first stage involves reading the Ethical Guidance booklet (see eBridge) and drafting an ethical approval form.

• The second stage involves discussing that ethical approval form with your supervisor (usually in one of the planned supervision sessions), reprinting the form if necessary, and getting the supervisor to sign it and send it off for approval from the Ethics Committee.

Relatively straightforward as it is, all dissertation students should be careful with ethical approval. There are two common issues that arise:

• One is ‘informed consent’. If you are doing empirical research, with people, they must give informed consent. The ethical guidance booklet explains what ‘informed’ means (i.e. you must inform respondents not only about the research but also about the processes in the university, to whom they can complain, and so on), and – notably for children – what ‘consent’ means. Children cannot give consent, and teachers/headteachers cannot give consent on their behalf: only the children’s parents/guardians can give consent. This is a limitation on a great deal of education research, as parents/guardians are not always as willing to give consent as their children might be.

• Compensating for some of the difficulties created by this issue, is the second issue: the role of the researcher. You must gain ethical approval for your research and be very clear when you are acting as a researcher. This is very important if you work in the same organisation where you are conducting the research.

You must not complete any empirical research until after you have received ethics approval. Overall, this is a very useful checking device as research is all too often compromised by problems related to ethics.

4.1.3 Discuss the methodology with the supervisor

Ethical approval is a good basis for part of a tutorial with your supervisor. You will also want to discuss the whole research approach with the supervisor. You and the supervisor need

to go through the methodology and also the empirical research itself (the subject of the following chapter), prior to it becoming ‘fixed’.

4.2 Research methodology in a non-empirical study

Dissertations that do not use original data (i.e. what has been collected by the student) still need to demonstrate that the student has knowledge and understanding of research methodology and research methods. Normally this is achieved by the student evaluating and critically reviewing the research produced by other studies examined in the dissertation. When examining contributions ask the following question: Is the contribution anything more than opinion? i.e.

• Is it an educated guess?
• Are the conclusions reached justified?
• Does the contribution make use of original data?
• Has such data been extensive and are the findings applicable more widely?
• Do other authors and researchers say similar things?

Sometimes this work may have been done for you where an author has conducted a review or a meta-review has been commissioned (remember, you must still reference such work in your submission). More often, however, you will have to do that work yourself so here are a couple of simple things to do.

First, produce a synthesis of the opinions and findings from the various contributors. Second, ask whether the conclusion reached by each contributor is justified by the evidence they provide.

• Synthesising: try to avoid loose use or words. Avoid words like ‘many’ and phrases like ‘it was generally felt’. Seek to be as specific as possible e.g. ’Seven of the 10 works examined had the common theme of …’; ‘Scott was a lone voice in this regard’.

• Justifiable conclusions: is the conclusion reached in a particular piece of work the only conclusion that could have been reached from the evidence provided? If not try to say why you think the contributor reached that particular conclusion.

Remember what you were told earlier: when being critical do not be rude!

5 Conducting empirical research

5.1 Introduction

Once the methodology has been completed the empirical research should be relatively straightforward. Well, that’s the theory, anyway. This chapter simply provides a check-list of some of the processes you will need to consider. When completing the literature review, one of the most important messages is to keep notes on everything you read; when completing the empirical research, the need to record and keep everything is even more important.


In empirical dissertations, the ‘results’ are likely to be reported in a separate chapter. This should not be a simple list of all the responses (those can go in appendices): it is the key findings, perhaps including some tables or charts of the most important data that tell the story of the research. It will include some initial analysis, but should avoid too much distant speculation – save that for the discussion/conclusion chapter(s).

5.2 Collecting and recording data

Once the methodology is clear, and ethical approval has been received, the data can be collected.

* Finalise all the research tools, such as interview schedules, questionnaires, observation schedules and your sampling techniques;

* Check these research tools and sampling techniques with your supervisor;

* Plan in detail how you are going to record the collection of the data. This can include planning note-taking, audio recording (if you have ethical approval) and ways of recording timings. It is always worth thinking of what might go wrong: for example, do not rely on technology working (the recording device may not work), and therefore think of alternative ways of recording data;

* Gain informed consent from potential participants. This must not happen after the event: it should be planned well in advance. If you need consent from parents/guardians, this may well take a while, and you can assume that some will not give permission;

* Collect the data, i.e. ‘do the research’;

* Record the data. As well as the recording that goes on at the time of the research, this process also includes, for example, inputting the data to a spreadsheet or a word document, transcribing written responses and interviews (using standard conventions). If you use interviews, bear in mind the enormous length of time it takes to transcribe interviews.

5.3 Initial analysis of data

After the data have been collected, you can complete some of the more ‘basic’ analysis, including (as appropriate) working out means and standard deviations and tests of significance or searching for key concepts. If you are unfamiliar with statistical techniques, you should seek specific support for this side of the analysis. If you are not going to use statistical techniques, but have some figures, then you will need to justify this very carefully. Better to spend the time finding out about the basic techniques.

As a result of this initial analysis, you may then be able to complete some more ‘complex’ analysis. This may include following-up significant trends or themes, re-investigating earlier research or checking out how some of the responses compare with responses reported in
other research.


5.4 Presentation of data

You will need to develop appropriate ways to report the data in the dissertation (where the data will be used to support the argument) and in appendices (where the data will usually be presented more fully, as a summary description of all the data collected). For quantitative research, programmes such as Excel or SPSS are now surprisingly straightforward to use, and provide attractive presentation formats. Be wary of spending too much time making the data look ‘pretty’, though: a three-dimensional bar-chart does not improve the significance of the data. Concentrate, instead, on clarity of argument in this chapter. The argument should be as clear in this chapter as it is in the literature review.

5.5 Discuss the empirical research with the supervisor

Arrange to discuss this whole chapter with your supervisor, and follow-up whatever is discussed here. The three most common suggestions by supervisors are:

• expand (for example, where you have only included tiny pieces of data that suit your argument);
• contract (for example, where you have included hundreds of charts or even copies
of all the completed questionnaires);
• explain the significance (either the statistical significance, or the significance in terms of your argument).

6 Discussion, conclusions and recommendations

6.1 Introduction

On occasions this part of the dissertation may be single or separate chapters. Although there are many ways of writing the final chapter(s), the styles associated with conclusions are not as wide-ranging as the styles of other chapters. Broadly, the purpose of the chapter containing the conclusions is to make sense of everything said in the rest of the work. Most dissertation students feel that they are almost there when they get to this stage. The sense of relief accompanying this (correct) judgement of the approaching end of the process, should not let you miss out on what is valuable in concluding your study. Like the summing up of a legal case, it is this chapter that best demonstrates that you really did know what you were doing all along.

6.2 Summarising the dissertation to this point (synthesis)

You should complete a chapter-by-chapter summary of the whole dissertation, making it into a logical ‘whole’ – i.e. a synthesis. This can be one of the joys of writing the dissertation as you can appreciate what you have achieved. Sometimes this summary will not be put into the final chapter but , more often, it will be there: either way, the process of summarising will help you understand what else can go into the conclusion.

6.3 Discussion and critical analysis in the light of the literature

Now you can review the whole thing to date and write about the significance of the


research. This will involve making a critical analysis of the research, aligning your findings to the literature review, thus linking the research question to everything else you have reported. A section like this is the core of the conclusion; it provides a basis for the following section.

6.4 Reflective conclusions and recommendations of ways forward

Finally, then, conclude the research to date, write about any recommendations deriving from the research (including recommendations of further, or different, research and policy recommendations).

6.5 Discussing these chapters with the supervisor

Discuss a draft of this chapter(s) with your supervisor and follow-up any suggestions made during that discussion. The most common comments at this stage are not related to the quality of the conclusions themselves, but to the ways in which this concluding section links together the whole dissertation. It is here that any ‘mistakes’ or limitations elsewhere in the dissertation can be explained, justified, compensated for, and therefore ‘allowed’. Make the most of the opportunity. You gain no marks for ‘hiding’ faults in the research: you gain many marks for recognising limitations and explaining what you would do if you had your time over again.

7 Writing and presenting the final dissertation

7.1 Academic writing and presentation conventions

Dissertations will be expected to include description, analysis and critical evaluation. Included below, therefore, are several sections on accuracy or description, analysis, critique, and a final section on ‘theory and practice’. This is helpful, but if you want to know the detailed university regulations, look them up in the handbooks and other official documents and if you want more, or more detailed study advice, do use the University’s Study Advice Service ( For example, you may have a disability or other special need which requires that specific arrangements need to be made to give you equal opportunity in undertaking the examination. A detailed procedure advises you how to seek assistance and what kind of assistance you can expect.

7.2 Accuracy

Writing for dissertations should be accurate. There are three aspects of accuracy that you should take account of when presenting your work:

* Unfounded claims or claims for which evidence is not given. For example, describing a school as ‘middle class’, or a lesson as ‘unstimulating’, without evidence for the claims, is inappropriate. Non-inclusive language (such as saying ‘he’ when you mean male or female) can be included in this category of inaccuracy. Similarly, try not to use the word
‘obviously’. There is very little that is obvious in academic life, or the rest of life, and if it really is obvious, there is no need to say it.

* Grammatical inaccuracies. Misuse of the apostrophe, especially the possessive


apostrophe, is a common problem. An apostrophe may be used for ‘contraction’, as in the change from did not to didn’t. However, contractions are frowned upon in academic work, so try to avoid them unless you are quoting the direct speech of people who use contractions.

Generally try to void the use of ‘I’ or ‘me’, unless the fact that this happened to you is of particular significance. The key rule issue here is what words (particularly verbs) you use after ‘I’. Saying, for example, ‘Consequently I am able to conclude’ would be fine, whilst ‘In my opinion’ is not really acceptable at this level of academic writing.

Avoid exclamation marks in academic writing.

If you are not sure of the correct English or grammar to use either ask for help from Student Study Services or get the work proof read by someone who is familiar with the English language.

* Referencing inaccuracies. There are various systems of referencing and we recommend the ‘Harvard System’. Either use this system, or be prepared to justify a consistent use of another system (for example, referring to university guidance). There are departmental guidance on referencing which can be found on your eBridge site.

7.3 Analysis

Once you have demonstrated accuracy you can start making sure that you include analysis in your assignments and dissertations. Although uou may be able to pass an assignment and dissertation if it is very accurate, and includes plenty of useful information and description, for a higher grade you will also need to be analytical.

Tutors often ask students to ‘be analytical’ and many essay and research questions include the word ‘analysis’. There are distinctive ways of being analytical. ‘Analysis’ is defined in as meaning separating a whole into its parts, to find out what it is made of, or, figuratively, examining carefully or in detail, or, in philosophy, the breaking up of a concept or event into its constituent elements or into its causes to reveal concealed content or form (IBM, 1997).

In speech, analysis is most often demonstrated by a question. You can ask questions to find out about the topic, and you can ask questions to clarify the method of presentation. In written English, however, you will use other forms. Examples are:

Although … suggests that …, it is unclear whether …

By claiming that … and also that …, the author is perhaps …

…’s theories are described in detail, only to be contrasted with the theories of … What appears to link the different theories is …
7.4 Critique

Having looked at being accurate in terms of the content, and being analytical you also


have to be critical if you seeking to get top grades. Criticality is:

• making of judgements;
• approving or disapproving;
• analysis of merits and faults (judgements).

Certain words or phrases indicate ‘critiques’. Examples of ‘critical sentences’ from previous students’ work are provided here::

It is the researcher’s valuable contribution to the current debate on racism and school that he has brought the two theoretical perspectives together.

Although authors did not suggest which teaching method was better, class room interactions can be ideal methods of teaching.

By describing many cases, Schwab (1972) described the relationship between children’s behaviour and parental mourning. Although this article is to alert professionals, it is also particularly useful for parents and teachers to deal not only with children’s behaviour but also with their own grief work.

Although limited in scope, the geography teaching case-studies would alert educators to examine more closely their instructional practices and to be more aware of students’ learning difficulties in geography.

The author divides learners into two types, adults and children, but it seems necessary
to think about returnees as a third type of learner.

7.5 Theory and Practice

You are expected to deal with both ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ in your dissertation. Look to see how you an apply theory to practice, especially when undertaking any analysis.

7.6 Proof-reading and printing

When you and the supervisor agree that you are ready to submit the dissertation, do a final proof-read yourself (including using electronic proof-reading tools). You are strongly advised to ask a friend or colleague to proof-read. Alternatively you could commission a professional proof reader, something many of our international students often do to make sure their work is coherent and accurate. The Student Union web-site often has details of proof readers you can contact (

After this, on the advice of your supervisor, you may then arrange for printing, binding and submission of the dissertation.

7.7 Submitting your dissertation for formal examination

Students are required to submit:

• two soft bound copies of their dissertation*


• two copies of a 300 word abstract
• a plagiarism declaration form
• any submission fees due

on or before their formal submission deadline. [This deadline is confirmed in the same letter confirming your supervisor’s contact details but please contact The Centre for Educational Studies Postgraduate Office if clarification is required].

Students from the Faculty of Education are also requested to submit an electronic version of the whole dissertation in pdf format. [You can create a pdf file quite simply through a programme called Adobe Acrobat which is free and available on the Internet].

* Please see Annexe One for ‘The University’s regulations covering the preparation of a dissertation for a Taught Higher Degree’

7.8 Assessment

Dissertations are all internally double marked with a sample being forwarded to an external examiner for moderation. Examiners are permitted to take up to three months to complete their examination, but generally results are given much sooner.

8 Extensions

When a dissertation is not submitted within the prescribed period of study, an extension may be requested as detailed below. There are two types of extension:

• A Head of Centre Extension – free of charge and available for up to 12 months
• A Student Progress Committee Extension – a final extension that carries an annual fee. This fee is non-refundable.

A status of ‘Retained’ is allocated to students with an active extension. A student card will be issued giving access to library and computing facilities. This card will be sent to students with the letter (from Student Progress Committee) confirming their extension has been approved.

Student should be aware, however, that there is no further ‘official’ supervision entitlement
during an extension period (given that no tuition fees are being paid).

Head of Centre Extension
Students who are unable to submit their dissertation within their formal registered period of study may request a Head of Centre Extension of up to twelve months. Students are required to submit a statement of up to 300 words to include:

• progress made so far
• a brief explanation of the circumstances that have prevented them from submitting by their official deadline
• a firm target date for submission

Students should complete a Postgraduate Taught Final Stage Dissertation Extension



Student Progress Committee (Final Extension)
Students, who fail to submit within the additional year (Head of Centre Extension), may exceptionally seek permission from the Student Progress Committee for one further extension. Any such request will, however, need to be accompanied by a statement on progress (as with Head of Centre Extension) and specifically explaining why submission had not proved possible. The supervisor will also be required to provide a supporting statement covering progress so far and explaining whether or not s/he views the likelihood of the new deadline being met. Only in the most exceptional circumstances would the Student Progress Committee consider any request for a second extension.

9 Reading and other sources of information for researchers

Some electronic sources

Electronic journals are available to all Hull students – including the full text of articles in journals as varied as Education 3-13, the British Journal of Educational Technology, Pastoral Care in Education.

N.B. You will need your Athens password for these services.

Go the University of Hull home page ( and follow the links to ‘Library Services’. On that page, one of the options to click on should be ‘electronic information services’. If you click on that, you will get a page on which you can click on ‘electronic
journals’. From there, you can find your way around the system.


Annexe One

Preparing a Dissertation for a Taught Higher Degree

1. These notes amplify the Regulations common to all Higher Degrees which are printed in the University Calendar.

2. The title page of the dissertation should be set out in accordance with the attached specimen sheet and should include the following:

a. the name of the candidate in FULL;
b. the candidate’s present degree(s), stating the University if other than Hull;
c. the degree for which he/she is submitting the dissertation;
d. the title of the dissertation;
e. the month and year in which the dissertation is submitted.

3. The dissertation may be typewritten or word processed. Text should normally be one and a half spaced, or double-spaced. Output can be on both sides of the page as long as quality of the document is not impaired.

4. The font should be of a size that can be easily photocopied. NB double spaced text on one side of the paper only at 12 point size is recommended.

5. Candidates are advised to use a good quality A4 (210mm x 297mm) photocopier paper, at least 80g/m2 weight for the 2 copies to be submitted for examination.

6. The binding margin should be at least 40mm with 20mm on all other sides.

7. Photographs should be on single weight paper. The paper should preferably be the full size of the page allowing for standard margins around the photographs, but if this is impossible and it is necessary to mount small photographs on the page, a guard 25mm wide, of the same thickness as the photograph should be mounted on the left hand edge of the page. Mounting should always be done by using photographic mountants as some glues can stain prints whilst others lose their adhesive qualities with time.

8. The attention of all candidates is drawn to the importance of careful revision of the typrescript of a dissertation before it is sent for binding. Reading numerous
typographical and linguistic errors only annoys your examiners.


Sample Dissertation Title Page


(Title of Dissertation)

being a Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of

the requirements for the Degree of

(degree name)

in the University of Hull


(Name in full, existing degree(s) (abbreviated)

month and year in which

the dissertation is being submitted


Submission of Dissertations

1. Candidates for taught Masters degrees are required to submit 2 soft-bound copies of their dissertation, bound in accordance with University requirements (see below), to Student Administrative Services for forwarding to the examiners.* They are also required to submit two copies of a separate summary of the dissertation of not more than 300 words.

THE SUMMARY SHOULD BE HEADED AS FOLLOWS: Summary of Dissertation submitted for (abbreviation of degree) degree
By (name)


(Title of dissertation)

Faculty of Education students should submit both copies to the Postgraduate Office, Room 363, Wilberforce Building.

2. It is possible that dissertations submitted less than 4 months before either the July or February Degree Ceremony may not be examined and the result received in time for the degree to be awarded at the next ensuing ceremony.

Specification for Binding of Taught Masters Degree Dissertations

1. Master’s degree dissertations should be oversewn. The Spine cloth should be Arbelave buckram, shade No 562 (blue) – (manufactured by Red Bridge (Bolton) Ltd, Red Bridge Mill, Ainsworth, Bolton). The sides should be Hi-speed Board, 230 microns, Deep Blue. There should be lettering down the spine of the dissertation in 18 point type, ‘Modern 20’ or similar, stating:

• initials and surname of the author,
• abbreviated title of the degree and
• year of presentation of the dissertation
leaving a space of 40mm at the head and the tail of the spine. Abbreviated titles of degrees

Master of Arts MA
Master of Science MSc
Master of Education MEd
Master of Philosophy MPhil

The binders nominated by the University are:


• S. Ingram & D. Robinson Ltd
Hull Bindery
Carnegie Heritage Information Centre
(Old Carnegie Library)
342 Anlaby Road
Tel. (01482) 35 35 58
email. website

• Spink and Thackray Broomfield Bindery Back Broomfield Estate Leeds LS6 3BP

• Hollingworth and Moss
Manor Street Industrial Estate
Enfield Terrace
Leeds LS7 1RG students who order their binding online can gain a 10%
discount using the discount code DE07

Other binders may be used, but the dissertation must be bound in accordance with the specification above. It may be necessary to allow 3 to 4 weeks.



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