RMP: Dissertation Milestones/Dates

Date guide for MSc Dissertation Completion

Here is guide to help ensure that you have enough time to complete all the tasks necessary to submit a research dissertation. Please note that the dates (in bold) are specified deadlines, whilst the others are as a guide to ensure you do not get left behind.

If you find you are not meeting the suggested deadlines you need to discuss this issue with your supervisor and draw a revised plan for completion. For instance, if data collection is delayed for some reason, you can plan to start writing sections like the introduction and methods so that you can still meet the hand in date.


Special considerations

  • If you are collecting data from students in exchange for research credits, you should obtain information about deadlines for student’s research credits and the end of their exam period. Usually, students can collect credits for the ongoing semester (semester 2, 4 or 6) up to mid May. Students can collect credits after this deadline, but they will count towards their research participation requirements in the following semester, which means that participant numbers usually go down noticeably after this deadline. Undergraduate students’ exam weeks usually end early June. After exams are finished, most students will be away; you should not expect to be able to get student research participants after end of exam weeks.
  • If you are doing research with NHS patients or vulnerable groups you will need a Research Passport which includes a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS – formerly Criminal Records Bureau, CRB). You must apply for this no later than end of January (preferably much earlier) as it can take 2-3 months for you to get the passport. You not be allowed to begin data collection until you receive the passport. If in doubt – check with your supervisor if you need one.
  • If you are planning on using a computer task in your research, remember this can take several weeks (if not longer) to programme. Members of the experimental support team are able to undertake this programming for you, but as they are likely to be working on a number of projects already, you should approach them early to discuss your specific programming needs. In some instances modification of pre-existing programmes is possible, significantly reducing programming time. Once you have obtained feedback on your research proposal (early March), you will have a clearer idea as to your exact programming needs, and should then confirm your final programme requirements with the support team.

 Tips for ensuring you produce a good dissertation.

  • The earlier you start data collection the better. Do not wait to finish your coursework and exams before starting your dissertation.
  • Start writing earlier on in the piece (rather than leaving it until the final month) so you can feedback along the way.
  • Using Reference Manager or EndNote/EndNote Web to manage your references will also make your life a lot easier. In fact, it would be a good idea to use one of these reference management programmes right from the start, ideally for you first coursework that includes references.


Dissertations should be soft-bound, and this can be done at the Print Centre, within the University of Southampton.  More information can be found at their website, here.

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