Once you reach your LLM summer semester, you are mostly left with attending revision sessions, taking exams and finalising your dissertation (usually due in August if you are a UK student). You start working on your dissertation as early on as possible once your topic has been decided and you have had your first meeting with the supervisor. During a tightly-packed LLM year, students tend to steer away from their dissertation research and get drawn into other assessments such as examinations and essay submissions, which no doubt are important and count toward overall LLM scores. However, if you’re not careful the time that you’re left with to finalise your dissertation can become too short, making for a hurried attempt.
Below are some tips to spread out your preparation on the dissertation and making sure that you don’t leave everything for the last minute:
1. WORK OUT A SCHEDULE
Work out a schedule to spend a minimum amount of time on your dissertation on a daily/weekly basis. This could mean an hour or two every day initially or a couple of hours over the weekend. You can also slot in library research time into your schedule so that you start gathering material to write on your topic.
Set yourself targets as you go along – for instance, to finish research on a certain aspect or pulling out literature sources for a chapter.
2. KEEP TRACK OF PROGRESS
It’s a good idea to keep a check of your dissertation progress on a periodical basis. This could be every two weeks or once in a month. Look back on how much you’ve managed to accomplish and how much more time you need to meet a target for instance, to complete a particular section. If you see yourself lagging behind, cut down on any low priority items on your list to fit in these items.
3. REVIEW WORK
It’s advisable to review your work constantly, however don’t overdo it as that could impact the quality of the work you’ve already done. Law topics can be presented in several ways and often students change their stance in the process of discovering new sources and articles. Spend time discussing on your approaches with colleagues and supervisors. You are likely to review your work until the time you actually handed in your dissertation but make sure that you are clear on your approach and presentation.
4. DON’T LEAVE FORMATTING YOUR WORK TILL THE END
You may end up spending more time doing your referencing, footnotes and page formatting than you would have thought. You are better of initiating the process of referencing and formatting right from the start of working on your dissertation, draft and building your way through the structure right from the off. If you do this you are still bound to spend several hours the day or week before you submit your dissertation on formatting your work to perfection, but it will still be better to set the layout from the start and feed in the information as you work your way through the various sections.