Choosing Topic For A Dissertation Proposal

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

The most common questions I get in dissertation writing is ‘What topic should I choose?’ Although some don’t have a clue, most students have a clear idea but are insecure. They are asking me, ‘Is my idea good for a dissertation? In this article, I will share experiences of how I helped students choose a topic.



There Is Nothing Wrong If You Don't Have A Clue


A bright and experienced project manager in his 40s asked me which topic is better for a thesis. Although he managed complex projects, he still felt anxious about choosing a topic. It made me realised that not only there is nothing wrong with being confused, but it can happen to the best of us.


The major problem here is that there isn’t one topic that is right or wrong. When I explain this to people, they find themselves with an infinite possibility of choices. Often this is the true reason people are anxious: they are faced with infinite choices. I help them see that this is the door to choosing the most exciting possibility.


What Lectures/Areas of Work Did You Enjoy Most?


I could see the sense of confusion when I explained this to a bubbly professswoman woman who had no time for BS. I asked her was to reflect on what lectures or areas of work she enjoyed the most. I usually ask questions like ‘What area of work/topic:

  1. Is interesting for you to explore?

  2. Is an area you want to specialise your career?

  3. Would make your thesis be a good portfolio to show to prospective employers?

  4. Would grow you as a person or at work?

I ask these questions because a thesis takes between 3 to 6 months of intensive work. When a person is not excited by the thesis, they will end procrastinating. Work commitments, distractions, bad days and family duties are like bad brothers and sisters who are trying to slow your progress. Unless you are motivated for the thesis, the time spent on the thesis will be a nightmare.


Research Before Starting the Dissertation Process


The two best students I had came to our first dissertation tuition session with the literature review at hand. The reason I am saying this is that if you want to excel, start before the dissertation period starts. Don’t wait for the dissertation tutor sessions to start doing the research. This process will help you to:

· Know what research has been done?

· Find topics that haven’t been covered by research?

· See if you want to replicate studies in your local environment?


As she worked in tourism, the bubbly professional woman realised that the research either was old or not relevant to her geographical area. Even more interesting for her, she found that research did not refer to a particular generation of customers. She focused on exploring that area, and this led her to create an amazing piece of work.


Don’t Look For The Right Idea. Choose An Idea, Then Find the Right Way


In Article 4, I discuss the story of a student who had a sensitive subject. Her supervisor was against her idea and changed her topic to an idea of his own. This situation is a nightmare scenario for a student because this creates insecurity and mistrust in one’s abilities.


As she engaged me as a consulting tutor, I went back to her original idea and helped her find a way that would bridge what her supervisor suggested. Rather than settling on the right idea, I transformed her original idea and helped her find a way to make it possible. I believed in her original idea because she:

1. Explored a current issue in society/work/industry

2. Was passionate and excited about the topic

3. It was meaningful for her.


The dissertations that excelled the most came from people’s inspirations and curiosities. I wrote this article with the hope of stimulating you to find your spark. Once you find that spark, a tutor can help you turn your spark from a rough diamond and polished one so that your dissertation can shine.

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