The Start Of The End: Dissertation Prep

Every students nightmare has to be the dreaded dissertation. I am now nearing the end of the second year of the degree at Southampton Solent University and little did I know that I would have to start thinking about my dissertation topic now. Along with the rest of the PR cohort, dissertation proposals, topic choices, and research questions were a distant thought. I suppose it’s a good thing to not leave it all till third year but it is scary to think I have to begin planning it now. Not all courses have a dissertation as a part of the degree, and they’re the lucky ones, however the Public Relations and Communications degree does. 10’000 words of PR-perfect content that is specific to your chosen topic.

Catherine Sweet is the lecturer for the Research and Evaluation unit on the degree and Catherine has been talking us through the first stages of researching our topic choices. As part of this unit I am required to produce a portfolio with 6 entries, 3 of which are focused on my dissertation topic. The 3 entires are a literature search, document analysis, and a content analysis. In order to do these 3 entries I first had to decide upon my topic and form it into my dissertation title. A guest speaker came in to speak to the group about her experience with dissertation writing and doing work placements. She told us the best way to narrow down our topic is to make a mind map called ‘Topic Choice’ where we look at what our ideal job would be, what we are curious about, what our hobbies are, and finally what our secret passion is. Below is my mind map that I used to create my dissertation title.

mind map topic choice


From this mind map I worked out that I wanted to write my dissertation on Environmental Issues and the approaches people make to try and make a difference. From this I then researched into activists and narrowed my title down to..

‘How Far Is Too Far? A comparative study into the PR of Greenpeace and WWF to identify effective activist campaigning tactics.’

I have begun to work on the first drafts of my literature search and content analysis with document analysis left to do. I am enjoying doing the research, which is giving me the motivation to write about this topic for my dissertation. There’s no good in choosing a topic that you’re not interested in and then struggling to write 10,000 words about it.

I am looking forward to the third year to really start working on my dissertation topic and learning more about environmental issues and activist tactics. I aim to work on environmental campaigns in the future so my dissertation should help me to achieve this goal.

Below is a prezi presentation I created as part of the Employability and Work Placement unit for this term. The prezi is my Career Development Action Plan of where I wanted to end up after graduating university and how I aim to get there.

If the prezi doesn’t load through the box above try this link instead:


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