Undergraduate dissertation Topics
Choosing a dissertation topic for an undergraduate degree can be very confusing due to the vast amount of subjects available and the fact that this is probably the first time that you are doing this type of work. The first thing that will be required of you is to come up with the research title. This article will outline some hints and tips on how to do that.
First of all you need to narrow down the subject area that you would like to write about within your degree. It is crucial that you find the subject interesting, otherwise not only you will struggle to write the work (as it will be extremely boring for you) but also it will show within the dissertation. For example, if you are studying economics, then you might want to choose between emerging markets or be country-specific; analyse the effect of new fiscal policy on small and medium enterprises; or write about a miscellaneous topic such as money laundering. The next step is to narrow it down even further. For example, if you have decided to write about mergers and acquisitions, would you want to examine just one case or a number of cases such as cross-border acquisitions? Next, write down a number of questions that you would like to answer in your dissertation. You will find that as the number of questions you listed within your notes increases, the main question will start to appear. This can be your main topic for the dissertation.
It is important that you discuss your topic with your tutor. Your tutor is likely to have a vast knowledge on the subject and will help you throughout the dissertation writing, if you do all of the appropriate work. Since your tutor will be your main ally throughout the dissertation, you must choose your tutor carefully. Don't go for a tutor who is going on holiday for three months while you are writing your work, or someone who is known to be unhelpful. You want someone who will read your work and discuss ideas with you, be it face-to-face or via an e-mail. Furthermore, you want someone who knows about the topic. Sometimes it is better to change the topic of the work if you think you can get a supportive tutor to help you. You can find the best tutor for your work by examining your university's website to check which tutor specialises in your field. Furthermore, check if any of the tutors in your university had work published or have spoken at conferences on your subject of interest. Recognition of your tutor by the academic community will allow you to get the most help with your dissertation.
Your tutor will be a major factor in the final title of your work. However, before you come to your tutor with different title ideas (a long time before you write your proposal), you need to decide if the title is a good one. The title of the dissertation needs to be challenging, therefore a descriptive work will not get you a pass rate.
For example, a dissertation question can be: "Does the rise of credit derivatives trading increase the risk of financial crises?" Rather than, "What are credit derivates?" Or "What is a financial crisis?".
The topic will always need to include some kind of question that can be argued in different ways. Your job is to provide both arguments within your dissertation, and pick one side, if you wish, for the conclusion.
You need to ensure that you can answer the question that you have set yourself. There can be two reasons why you will not be able to answer the question a) the question is too difficult and b) there is not enough data. The second reason is one of the main causes for the failure of dissertations. For example, if you want to analyse the effect of higher oil prices on Kazakhstan's economy, you need to ask yourself if you will be able to get enough data for Kazakhstan. Sometimes it is wiser to leave a country that you don't have the data for and do the same analysis on a different country, rather then be pressured into changing the whole of your dissertation mid-term when you find out that the data is not available. For the subjects where accurate numerical data is not necessary, such as politics, make sure you can get your hands on the books that you will require prior to committing to the topic. A lot of books are out of print and sometimes impossible to get hold of, which forces you to miss out on crucial arguments.
Once you have found that enough data or information will be available for you to carry out the research, you need to decide which method you will use for your dissertation. The method is very important as this will determine how you will approach the topic. For example, if you are not comfortable with using quantitative analysis, then use a case study method. Your method of approaching the dissertation will depend on how much data is available to you and how comfortable you are using the method. It is also wise to discuss the method with your tutor, as some universities and courses favour different approaches and methods. It is also useful to bear in mind that a chosen method may simplify your work. However, with the appropriate evidence and references within the main body of the work, you will still be able to get a 1st dissertation. Just because you are using a simpler method it does not mean that you will get lower marks. In my experience, the simpler the method the more likely it is that you will get it right and will concentrate on the appropriate arguments and the quality of work, rather than working out the method itself. One of the most popular methods for a dissertation is primary research. If you decide to use this method, make sure that you can organise the interviews and speak to the appropriate people. Be aware that most of the managers are often very busy and therefore you will need to organise the interviews in advance. Furthermore, make sure that you follow up your interviews with an e-mail or a phone-call. Not all of the managers will be willing to meet up, therefore make sure you contact as many as possible to get an appropriate number of interviews. You will be able to get the list of necessary organisations via internet search, by actively using your career centre and contacting your tutors, who may be able to put you in touch with managers in the required industries. Moreover, your friends may have contacts in the industry - don't be afraid to use your connections.
Once you have identified the topic that you would like to research, simplify it as much as possible. A lot of students are too ambitious when they set the topic. It is much better to use a simple topic and then expand on it by approaching the title from different sides of the argument, rather than setting an ambitious topic and not answering the set question. One of the ways of doing that is by narrowing the topic. For example, if you are thinking of addressing the following topic: "When are the transitional economies likely to develop to the level of developed countries?", you can narrow it down by altering the research topic to: "When is Russia likely to reach the level of developed countries?". In this case, you can concentrate on Russia alone, and then add other transitional economies to your dissertation to make it fuller, rather than trying to reach the conclusion for every transitional economy. However, be careful not to make the topic too narrow, as this may take away your research flexibility and make the dissertation too difficult to complete.