A postgrad’s life during the dissertation stage

It’s that time of year for Master’s students: dissertation time. Although I only finished my last course assignments less than a month ago, I’ve had enough time to realise that working on a dissertation is a different experience than the rest of the academic year. So read on if you want a postgrad’s take on daily life during the dissertation period.

No deadlines, hurray!

Not so fast! Sure, there are no deadlines every other week, and this fact alone has given me a wonderful feeling of relief. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to set deadlines for yourself. A dissertation, at least for a student in Psycholinguistics like me, requires that you conduct your own research. Even if your programme doesn’t involve research, this will still be the biggest project you’ve undertaken so far, which means you need to plan ahead. On the bright side, you get a lot of freedom in setting up your timetable, exactly because you no longer have other assignments to deal with.

Does that mean more free time?

Yes and no. As during the rest of the year, this depends on how much work you have on a given day. But the fact that there are no lectures or labs alone frees up enough time to allow for a slightly more relaxed programme.

Beyond the dissertation

But it’s not – and if you want balance in your life, it shouldn’t be – all work! Take advantage of the newfound freedom from other courses and assignments to try out new things or devote more time to things you already like. Go back to the gym, think about where you’re heading next year, enrol in extra courses (now that the mandatory ones are over). And don’t forget to leave some downtime for yourself, too – especially on rainy days like the last few have been, a relaxing afternoon watching Netflix is a must.

Spend time with your friends

Another realisation that has hit me hard recently is that the academic year is coming to an end – which also means that a lot of great people I met here will be in different places next year. So another thing to do this summer is hang out with your friends and make the most of your time together!


Overall, it’s been a great ride, and it’s thankfully not over yet!