Starting your dissertation? Follow our top 5 study tips

So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.  

Tip #1: Have a plan 

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.  

Tip #2: Start with something small 

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones. 

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need… 

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide 

Tip #4: Think more, read less 

It’s important that you think critically about what you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this. 

Tip #5: Attend a webinar or a workshop 

The Library and Study Advice teams are running a series of sessions for Masters students working on their dissertations. The Masters Dissertation Fair is back for a third year, covering a range of topics from selecting a reference management tool, to structuring your literature review.   


Webinars and workshops will run online from Monday 6th - Friday 10th June. These friendly and helpful sessions are open to all Masters students, and you can book a place online here:

Getting ready for the exam season! Top tips from the Study Advice team.

Have you started thinking about exams yet? This year, some exams will continue with the take-home format, while, in some other cases, in-person exams may be returning! Whatever the case may be for your subject, getting organised early is key.

Study Advice is here to help! Check below our top 10 tips for exam success and info on all the additional resources and interactive support we offer:


For efficient revision…


  1. Make a plan! Check when your exams are scheduled and allow yourself plenty of time for revision in small doses.
  2. Note the format of your exams. Format may differ among different Schools and modules; make sure your information is correct and up to date, so you can prepare accordingly.
  3. Go beyond your lecture notes. You can’t revise everything in detail, so select fewer topics to focus on in more depth. Check your reading list for further reading; think how you’d use what you’ve read to answer a question. Use your module’s revision session to ask questions or clarifications of the module convenor.
  4. Past papers are your friends! Use them to work out how many topics to revise, to practise writing quick plans and timed answers, and to familiarise yourself with exam instructions. Past papers are available at the exams office archive.
  5. Take good care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, sleep properly, and give yourself time off – taking breaks will reinvigorate your brain and increase your efficiency in processing information.


On exam day…


  1. Read the questions carefully. Don’t just look for familiar key words; check again. You might find the topic you are well prepared for is worded differently.
  2. Use outlines before your start writing. Think about the key points in your answer and dedicate a paragraph to each one. To structure your paragraph, make your point early and clearly, then give your evidence and analysis to support it, and end with a concluding sentence to link the point back to the question.
  3. Work out your timings. Know when you need to move on to the next question. Spend longer on questions worth more marks and allow time for checking. If your exam is not timed, it is still advisable to stick to recommended timing and word count; this will help you understand the scope required to cover and avoid going off topic.
  4. Don’t panic! Under pressured conditions in invigilated, time-bound exams, you may initially feel you don’t know enough; go over the question again and put down in a list what you do know. If you go blank, take a few deep breaths and don’t push yourself to remember. Instead, move to a question you can answer and return afterwards. Chances are you will remember when your brain isn’t under pressure.


After the exam…


  1. Reflect on your experience. What strategies worked well? Use these in your preparation for the following exams.


For more tips on exams revision, how to approach different types of questions, exam room strategies, and more, check out our Study Advice exam prep resources.

We are also planning interactive sessions you can join to discuss your questions or practise in exam-room conditions. Book your place via our Webinars and Workshops page.

  • Wednesday 23 March, 2:00pm-3:00pm: Revising for university exams (online)
  • Wednesday 20 April, 1:00pm-2:00pm: Preparing for in-person exams (face to face)
  • Wednesday 20 April, 2:30-4:30pm: Practice exam workshop (face to face)

Best of luck to all!