Dissertations: Choosing a topic

Finding the right topic and refining this into your title may take some time. Doing some exploratory reading can inspire you, and help you to find the gap or niche you’d like to investigate further. Having a question or title as a placeholder, even if it isn’t quite right yet, gives you a useful focus for your research, and you can always alter it later. However, if you are going to make major changes to your topic, it is a good idea to let your supervisor or module leader know.   

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources: 

What is a dissertation?

When starting out on your dissertation, it’s a good idea to know what is involved. Have a look at this guide which outlines the whole process:

Will it work?

When selecting a topic and narrowing it down to a question, you need to consider the time, resources, and the interest you have in that topic. Use the following checklist to help you decide:

Research proposal

Sometimes you are asked to write a proposal before finally deciding on your topic. The purpose of a proposal is not to cover everything in detail but to show that there is enough literature and time available for the project you want to do. See the short guide below for more information:

Question ideas

Struggling to find a research question? Don’t worry, research questions often evolve and develop as you do some initial exploration of the literature. Look at this simple guide to get started:  

Thinking creatively

A dissertation or research project is a chance to follow up some of the ideas or issues that have captured your interest throughout your course. What puzzles or intrigues you about your subject? See these videos for more creative ways to think of a question: