The 10 emotional stages of writing a dissertation

2:2 is still a pass, right?


So, you decided you need to get to get the 'full university experience' and write a dissertation. You bet your £30,000+ degree on getting a first on writing 10,000 word on a topic that you know nothing about. Before you know it, you've sacrificed your third year to the whims of your dissertation tutor.

Relatable? These are all the emotional stages you'll go through writing your diss:

1. Confidence with a pinch of hope

You’ve always wanted to do a dissertation and you’re almost looking forward to it. This is something you’ve been passionate about pursuing for a long time. The fruits of your academic capabilities are finally about to grow. After years of scraping a 2:1, it’s your time to shine.

Image may contain: Shop, Person, Human, Library, Book, Indoors, Room

2. Your tutor is nowhere to be found

Your academic tutor isn’t replying to your emails but it doesn’t matter because you THINK you know what you’re doing. You tell yourself you excel under pressure and what even is academic support anyway?

Image may contain: LCD Screen, Clothing, Apparel, Screen, Display, Monitor, Desk, Furniture, Table, Pc, Electronics, Computer, Person, Human

3. A growing sense of doubt

After some investigating it turns out that niche subject you decided to write about isn’t as niche as you thought. What you previously thought was quite an original topic has been done before. A lot.

Image may contain: Indoors, Desk, Tabletop, Table, Furniture, Pc, Computer, Human, Person, Monitor, LCD Screen, Electronics, Display, Screen

4. The Fear

WHAT have you got yourself into. The amount of planning and research you need to do is waaaay more than you anticipated. Balancing doing your dissertation with your other modules, keeping on top of readings, extra-curricular activities, seeing your mates and remaining a regular at Dover Castle seems impossible.

Image may contain: Face, Female, Teen, Girl, Human, Kid, Blonde, Child, Woman, Person, Clothing, Apparel

5. Feels like you’re drowning

In readings, in secondary sources, in a pool of your own tears. You wish you were swimming but you're actually sinking.

Image may contain: Furniture, Tabletop, Apparel, Clothing, Reading, Human, Person

6. An overwhelming sense of dread

Lots of people, mainly your parents, are asking you regularly how your dissertation's going. You don't have the heart to tell them you haven't even started writing it yet because the thought brings you to tears. Not only is it, in many cases, a compulsory part of your degree but we are voluntarily paying thousands of pounds to inflict this upon ourselves. You've began to accept how royally screwed you are.

Image may contain: LCD Screen, Display, Monitor, Screen, Clothing, Apparel, Sitting, Cushion, Person, Human, Chair, Laptop, Furniture, Couch, Computer, Pc, Electronics

7. Moved into the library

You live in the Maughan now and your only breaks involve running to Tesco Metro on the Strand to cop a £3 meal deal. Your desk is permanently littered with crumbs, sandwich wrappers and Innocent smoothie bottles. The constant crackle of you opening snacks is sending other dissertation victims around you almost over the edge.

Image may contain: Dating, Path, Condo, Housing, Face, Tourist, Vacation, Apparel, Clothing, Road, Urban, City, Building, Town, Street, Human, Person

8. Substance abuse

Your bloodstream is 75 per cent energy drink and you’re counting at least 10 cups of coffee a day. You're bashing out words at lightning speed under a hazy fog of Ritalin-induced fury. You gaze wistfully at the Knights Templar from the windows of the Maughan and think of how much you're going to spend in there when it's all over.

Image may contain: Indoors, Shelf, Grocery Store, Supermarket, Shop, Market, Person, Human

9. Accepting your fate

It doesn't matter how bad what you've written is there's no going back now. You're so close to the end you can almost taste freedom. The thought of not having a dissertation-shaped dark cloud hanging over you is the only thing keeping you going in this perpetual state of nervous breakdown.

Image may contain: Skin, Face, Person, Human, Scarf, Apparel, Clothing

10. Deadline day

It's done, it's gone, it's over. Worst thing that's ever happened to you and you got through A-Level exam season. You've handed it in and are just praying it passes so you can finally graduate. What should have been your academic peak single-handedly destroyed your health, confidence and social life all in one go. 0/10 would not recommend. But now it's all over, did somebody say Guy's Bar?

Image may contain: Housing, Lobby, Room, Home Decor, Indoors, Flooring, Corridor, Building, Architecture, Floor, Human, Person