7135LAWPL PG Dissertation

You have been allocated a supervisor because that person has skills and expertise in the area that you are researching: that means that the supervisor is as valuable a resource – if not more – than some of the research that you will undertake in support of your dissertation.

The relationship needs to an open professional relationship, not a warm personal one: you need to be open to receiving critique designed to help you to present your best work: no supervisor will seek to upset you or knock your confidence – please allow time to elapse after receiving feedback before replying.

You can expect a minimum of 3 electronic ‘meetings’ with your supervisor. You can expect a supervisor to read and provide feedback on 2 chapters of your thesis – he/she may read more, but that is to be negotiated between you.

You can expect moderate guidance, if you can show that you have looked into the issue already.

You should ask your supervisor when he/she will be available to you and make a plan for submitting work for feedback.

You cannot expect feedback in 48 hours.

During the lack of face-to-face contact, please be patient and prepared to wait for up to 2 weeks for feedback.

It is not a supervisor’s job to locate the research for you.

You cannot expect spelling, punctuation and grammar to be corrected; these things are part of the marking criteria.

If you need extra support, you need to seek it via the Library. Supervisors are entitled to, and will likely be taking, periods of annual leave over the summer. Speak to them in advance about when that might be and plan your schedule of work around them.

If you receive an out of office reply, please read it carefully, and plan your work around your supervisor’s availability.

RESPECT ALWAYS: this is a key concept at LJMU and so communication must be respectful at all times. Your supervisors will expect that from you, and you are entitled to that respect from them. You can find the ‘Respect Always Charter’ later in this Handbook.

What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a research project, on a topic in some way related to your course of study. It is undertaken with the guidance of a supervisor, and it involves extended research and writing on the part of the student.

It is an academic piece of work, usually based on pre-existing/published data (journal articles, monographs, practitioner blogs, peer-reviewed studies etc.,). It is very rare for Masters students to include original data collection.

It normally contains:

an abstract (a brief summary of the work, that contextualises the discussion); an introduction (wherein the layout of the dissertation is outlined, methodology will be explained and key themes/authors are highlighted); the main body (your dissertation discussion, broken down into chapters);

a conclusion (the way the discussion is drawn together, key findings are outlined and, if appropriate, suggestions for future practice/further research are made). How does a Masters Dissertation differ from an Undergraduate Dissertation? It requires more critical analysis.

Rather than describing the law in a given field, a Masters is expected to be more analytical. You will be expected to provide a clear narrative, that runs through the project, so that the reader can understand:

o What the project is considering;

o Why the issue/questions raised are relevant;

o What the answers to these questions are.

What is it for?

It is the final stage of your studies.

It enables you to show you have developed a key set of skills, such as:

• identifying research objectives;

• conducting independent research;

• planning a project;

• managing time;

• analysing information,

• conveying findings clearly and effectively and;

• working to deadlines.

You may use your dissertation as part of your later working life, or even use it as the foundation of future doctoral study


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