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These notes indicate what the dissertation is, outline the procedure for deciding on a topic, and offer guidance on writing and presenting it.

The dissertation is between 14,000 and 15,000 words in length and is due by the last working day in September in the year in which you complete the degree. For submission procedure please refer to the programme handbooks.

The dissertation offers you the chance to do a sustained piece of work on a suitable topic of your own choice. Ideally, you will already have begun work on your dissertation in the context of the project. At the end of the spring term of your final year you will be asked to submit the title of your dissertation. You will be allocated a supervisor by the programme director – but you are welcome to put forward names of suitable supervisors. There no guarantee that you will get the person that you request, but it will be borne in mind. If you have difficulty in formulating a topic, you should consult with the programme director. Your supervisor will advise on the feasibility of the topic and give guidance on reading and presentation.

Students may have up to three substantial meetings with their dissertation supervisor. In the course of these meetings supervisors may be asked to comment on plans or on drafts of all or part of the dissertation. Since the supervisor will also be one of the examiners for the dissertation he or she should not be asked to read the final draft of the dissertation. Supervisory sessions are for discussion of intellectual ideas and suggestions for further research. It is not expected that your supervisor will read written materials of any length.