The Year Abroad Dissertation
Talk to your Director of Studies about your initial ideas before the end of Lent Term. It is a very good idea to dedicate part of the Easter vacation in your Part IB year to doing some reading around possible texts or topics.
The first deadline, for registering your dissertation topic with the Faculty, comes fairly early in the Easter Term. At this point you are only asked to provide a 50-word outline of the broad area you are interested in studying, but you do need to have obtained the agreement of a member of staff to supervise your project. You may have an idea of who you would like to supervise you, but your Director of Studies should also be able to advise you on someone appropriate.
The Optional Dissertation
Talk to your Director of Studies as early as you can if you are thinking about submitting an Optional Dissertation in place of a Part II scheduled paper. You should dedicate some time during your Year Abroad to preliminary reading.
The first deadline, for registering your dissertation topic with the Faculty, comes fairly early in the Michaelmas Term. By this point you should have obtained the agreement of a member of staff to supervise you, and met up with him/her to discuss initial ideas. You may already know who you would like to supervise you, but if not, your Director of Studies should be able to advise you on someone appropriate.
Getiing the most from your supervisor
For the Year Abroad and the Optional Dissertation
- You should take the initiative in arranging meetings and agreeing work schedules with your supervisor.
- You should receive detailed comments on your draft(s) with suggestions for improvement, development and any further reading recommended. If you have any particular concerns or questions, do let your supervisor know so that they can respond specifically.
- A supervisor is not permitted to check through the final version of your dissertation. But if you have made some major changes after the first draft and would like your supervisor to comment on them, it is often helpful to highlight them in the reworked document so that your supervisor knows where to focus their attention and can give you feedback on the new sections.
- Submit drafts as early as you can: if you send your supervisor a draft within 2-3 weeks of the deadline, there will be little point in their providing much feedback as you will not realistically be able to make many changes.
- If you have any concerns about the supervision process, you should contact your Director of Studies.
Additionally for the Year Abroad Dissertation
- You should certainly meet up with your supervisor before you leave Cambridge for your Year Abroad, and with appropriate notice it may be possible to schedule another face-to-face supervision if you are back in Cambridge at some point during the year. Otherwise supervision will be via email (more usual) or telephone.
- Don’t forget that your supervisor may be very busy teaching during term and away for parts of the vacations, so check ahead and be aware that they may not be able to read your work immediately. It is helpful for a supervisor to know in advance when you plan to send a draft – they are likely to be able to read it and respond more quickly.
- As there is a limit (four hours) on the time a supervisor can give you, think carefully about how this time can be best used. Some time at the beginning to discuss general approaches is very useful, but you will find that your supervisor can be most helpful in giving specific advice once you have put together a first draft.