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Thesis vs Dissertation UK: Key Differences & Writing Tips

Thesis vs Dissertation UK: Key Differences & Writing Tips

Regarding post-secondary education, particularly in the United Kingdom and other regions, the words “Thesis” and “Dissertation” are used interchangeably. But what do they mean? How do they differ? And why do these terms sometimes cause so much confusion? It is time to go deeper into the differences between the Thesisand the Dissertation, focusing on the UK’s universities.

Thesis vs Dissertation: Geography and Degree Level

The first thing to note is that the Nomenclature differs depending on the country. For example, in Great Britain, a “Thesis” is the main work for a PhD, while a “Dissertation” is for Undergrad and Master’s levels. Conversely, in the U.S., a Dissertation is used for a PhD while a Thesis is used for a Master’s degree.

PhD Thesis vs Dissertation:

In the UK, a PhD is a document submitted to support a candidate in the pursuit of a Doctoral Degree. It shows the Researcher’s work and results. According to the guidelines, a Thesis must make a meaningful and new contribution to the field of study. The focus is on generating new knowledge, or re-interpretation the existing knowledge.

On the other hand, a PhD Dissertation in the UK (though less used in this sense) means the consideration and Critical Examination of Investigations. But, when most people in the UK talk about Dissertations, they are usually referring to the Research carried out as part of the Undergraduate or Master’s degree. This Research is generally of shorter duration and not as comprehensive as a PhD thesis.

Main Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation

Purpose and Scope: A Thesis contains new Research findings and insights into the existing body of knowledge. A Dissertation at the undergraduate or Master’s level seeks to demonstrate that the writer is conversant with the knowledge and can critically assess the existing research.

Length and Depth: A PhD Thesis is normally longer and more detailed than a Dissertation. In the UK can be up to 100,000 words and above depending on the area of specialisation. On the other hand, a Master’s Dissertation might be around 15,000 to 20,000 words.

Research Component: A PhD Thesis demands a lot of Research, Experiments, and Studies, Collection of Data, Analysis of Data, Conclusion, and Discussion part. A Dissertation for a Master’s degree consists of a Literature Review and may have some Qualitative or Quantitative study.

Contribution to Knowledge: Another important element of a PhD Thesis is the contribution to knowledge. It should contribute to the knowledge in the Research, while a Dissertation is highly Research-oriented, it is more focused on the student’s capacity to reason within the context of the existing literature.

PhD Dissertation vs Thesis: The Process

Writing a PhD Thesis and a Dissertation also has some distinctions in the following ways. Let’s break down the typical steps involved:

PhD Thesis:

Proposal: The process starts with a Research Proposal where the student proposes the Research Problem, Approach, and importance of the study. This proposal must be approved before the actual Research can commence.

Research: ‘Collection of Data’, ‘Experiments’, ‘Analysis’ – This is the most comprehensive part of the whole process. It can even take years to accomplish and depends on the specialisation chosen by the candidate.

Writing: The writing phase can be daunting, given the length and depth required. This entails drafting chapters on Literature Review, Method, Findings, Analysis, and Discussion.

Submission: After writing the Thesis, it is given to be examined. This entails review and appraisal by experts in the subject, who will scrutinise the Research and Findings.

Defense (Viva Voce): The last rigorous examination is the Viva Voce, a spoken defense of the Thesis work. The student must defend their Thesis before a panel of experts, Answering Questions and demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Master’s Dissertation:

Proposal: Like a PhD Thesis, completing a Dissertation also involves preparing the Proposal where the Research Question and Methodology are proposed.

Research: The nature of the Research phase is not as elaborate as a PhD Thesis therefore it does not take as long. It may range from a Review of the Literature to an Analysis of some Data, or it may comprise Research on a small scale.

Writing: When it comes to writing, a Dissertation is a more concise piece of scholarly work. Still, the typical structure includes sections such as Literature Review, Methodology, Results, and Conclusion.

Submission: The Dissertation is presented to the faculty or examiners to be marked or assessed.

Defence (Optional): In the UK, viva voce is not mandatory in a Master’s dissertation, though some institutions may insist on oral defence or presentation.

Writing: Drafting a Thesis or a Dissertation is a major scholarly endeavour and also one of the most challenging tasks that any academician will ever encounter in their academic career.

Tips for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation

Whether you’re working on a PhD Thesis or a Master’s dissertation, the following tips can help you navigate the process:

Plan Ahead: It pays to begin planning in the early stage. Begin by proposing the Research Question, Method, and a realistic time frame for your work. To increase the likelihood of success, come up with achievable and realistic time frames for all the stages of your investigation and composing.

Stay Organised: Remember to keep yourself organised by maintaining records of entries and links to Source Materials, Notes, and Drafts. Properly prepare for Writing to prevent Plagiarism and to use Reference Management Software.

Feedback: seek feedback from your supervisors or peers, and consider getting their input regularly. It can also help you to stay on track and improve the quality of your Academic work.

Write Regularly: Writers should set a practice regime and schedule time for writing. It is important to realise that even if you can write only a few hundred words a day, it adds up and doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.

Revise and Edit: Remember that writing is a process and you’re allowed to change your mind several times while working on a paper. Try to avoid presenting your first-drafted ideas directly to your audience, since good Writing frequently involves rewriting and revising to make your arguments clearer and your writing more persuasive.

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