Wednesday, 8 July 2020

How to Choose Your Dissertation Subject

How do students pick the right subject for their dissertation? It's not an easy question to answer. Our online MA students, studying for their masters' degree in 3D animation, engage with both the practical and theoretical sides of the art of animation.

Part of this involves writing a dissertation, but it isn't always easy to select a suitable subject.  Fortunately, course leader and academic lead Fil Ieropolous is here to help. Below are our top tips for choosing a dissertation subject.

Practical -vs- Theoretical
Many of our students tend to want to write about practical subjects, but these are not always sufficiently academic in their nature for the written parts of the course.  One way around this is to look for ways to contextualise your subject, to compare your chosen area of study with other past approaches. You can look at the history of the medium, and how animation has changed - or not changed - over the course of the past century.  Whatever you do, it's important to try to get as much film theory in as possible - citing recognised authorities on the subject of film and film-making.

Dr Fil Ieropolous
Dr Fil Ieropolous
Course leader and academic lead Dr Fil Ieropolous offers all students the option to email and Skype (or similar - there are many ways now to connect digitally) at any time, and he speaks regularly to many of our MA students.

Choosing a topic
Choosing a topic is often a tricky process, especially since animation is a relatively new discipline, and there isn't yet a large academic bibliography on the subject. But choosing a dissertation topic is always difficult, no matter what the subject is.  It is almost always a case of going back and forth with the tutor until the right subject has been selected.

Look for the Literature
The advice Fil gives our students is to select a subject that has some existing academic literature that can be cited and referenced. Fil works hard to ensure that students select the right subject, because "if they pick the wrong subject, they won't be able to find relevant literature". 

Start with a Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal can seem a little daunting to many students. How do students know if they have picked the right subject? Is there enough of a bibliography? Is it specific enough? A proposal is by no means a contract, so if students need to change their dissertation topic later, they can do so. The important thing is to keep communicating with Fil, sending ideas.  This is the process for fixing a dissertation topic, and it takes time.

Resources for academic writing BNU

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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