Help with dissertation ideas?

z.o96

New Member
just want to start off by saying I am a creative arts student and I'm supposed to come up with a dissertation and research topic (as everyone is of course) but I just can't do it. Everyone else seems to really understand it and I don't. This has been so hard for me because I am not academic at all and have a very slow processing speed (basically not very clever I guess?) and diagnosed with learning difficulties and I just don't understand all the academic talk they're throwing at us.

I've tried to research what makes a good dissertation but I just don't know what I'm supposed to be doing because as soon as I think I've figured it out, I come across something that makes me confused again. Some say to be super specific but when you are, it's seen as restricting yourself? I really want to do something that I love instead of doing something generic but I don't know how to convert those topics into a dissertation?
 

Wardy

Well-Known Member
Give us as much detail as you can about what you're being asked to do. The solution is often simpler than you think, you just need to be pointed in the right direction.
 

sprout

Active Member
In addition, I would add, that there are very few subjects, no matter how restricted they appear to be at first, which can’t be drilled down further into and become interesting in the process. As Wardy and fisicx said, let us know your passions. What drives you, what excites you. It doesn’t even have to be directly related to the subject.

For example, if for instance, you have a passion for football, you could then tie that into the development of logo types of football clubs through the ages and how that is either influenced by, or influences the culture that surrounds it. Do the emblems of cup winning teams, or particularly successful teams influence the design of lower league teams? Does the political colour of a nation at a given time affect it. If not, what does?

I am not suggesting this is the way you go, but more by way of an example of how you can drill down into a subject and find interesting information to work with that fires your interest.

The subject will have to be something you are passionate about, so that you have enough enthusiasm to peruse the research and cross-reference it. Don’t worry, at this stage about trying to find something too ’academic’. That comes later when you decide the area. You then decide what you want to find out.

For example, my own final thesis ended up being titled something pompous and academic like, The perception and acceptance of designed information systems. This started quite simply one day wondering about how people navigate airports and railway systems in a language they don’t understand. I ended up inter-railing around Europe for a month and recording how different signage systems were put together, based on how easy or difficult they were to use. This then led me to a research how the human brain accept and perceives information. How the field of vision and left/right brain reads pictorial/lexical information.

It all started off quite pedestrian (no pun intended) but as I drilled down I found an area of study that sparked my interest and the more I drilled down, the bigger the field became. Even now, many years on, it is an area that interests me and I still read in that direction sometimes.

Let yourself off the hook and start with anything that interests you and go from there.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Ok now don't take this the wrong way but I remember when I was at uni in the very first 'lesson' they asked people to let them know if they had any issues that may impact their education, ie things like dyslexia, deaf (we actually had a deaf guy on the course), and as such offer up assistance/extensions to work.

Now assuming you have a similar sort of course you would likely be entitled to assistance regarding the course, I know dyslexia (which I have) was entitled to extended time but it's not something I would suggest someone uses because you just won't get it in the real world.

So my advice is actually this, if you don't understand the request from the tutor, ask them to explain it in more detail after the lesson has finished, that's one of the main reasons why they're there in the first place, especially in last few years of course (I can't actually remember doing much more than one or two lessons a week in the final year). If they are aware of your learning difficulties, and they should be if they're as bad as you say, then they should be willing to help put you in the right direction.

And I'll be honest here.... pretty sure I had a small dissertation in my final year, I can't even remember what it was about and I have never had a need to do one since.....
 

z.o96

New Member
What do you love? Tell us this and maybe we can come up with some suggestions.
I want to specialise in book cover illustration and i'm interested in topics such as nature and fashion. would be great if you could give me an example just so I can see what the format is meant to be and how I could convert the topics I love into a 'research thesis' or whatever they call it lol.
 

z.o96

New Member
Ok now don't take this the wrong way but I remember when I was at uni in the very first 'lesson' they asked people to let them know if they had any issues that may impact their education, ie things like dyslexia, deaf (we actually had a deaf guy on the course), and as such offer up assistance/extensions to work.

Now assuming you have a similar sort of course you would likely be entitled to assistance regarding the course, I know dyslexia (which I have) was entitled to extended time but it's not something I would suggest someone uses because you just won't get it in the real world.

So my advice is actually this, if you don't understand the request from the tutor, ask them to explain it in more detail after the lesson has finished, that's one of the main reasons why they're there in the first place, especially in last few years of course (I can't actually remember doing much more than one or two lessons a week in the final year). If they are aware of your learning difficulties, and they should be if they're as bad as you say, then they should be willing to help put you in the right direction.

And I'll be honest here.... pretty sure I had a small dissertation in my final year, I can't even remember what it was about and I have never had a need to do one since.....
Hi there

My course isn't very supportive and I've already asked for help/clarification. They seem very adamant on you 'figuring it out yourself' which I definitely think is good but they don't know where the line is drawn between doing that and just completely ignoring or abandoning students, especially ones with special needs.
 

Wardy

Well-Known Member
Book cover illustration is a very broad subject and I think you'll struggle to narrow it down to one area such as nature or fashion. You could think
along the lines of one particular book genre or illustrator maybe. Science Fiction/Fantasy would be an obvious one, or graphic novels maybe. Or choose
a series of books that have continually changed in design over the years with each reprint. Can it be book cover design and not just illustration?

The alternative is to turn it round and focus on nature and/or fashion first, then try and link that to an area of illustration or a particular artist or illustrator.
The first person that springs to mind is someone like Mucha, where there is a wealth of work for you to research.

You need to choose a subject first that you're going to enjoy researching and one that you'll have plenty to research on, then work out what your thesis could be.
 

sprout

Active Member
Can you narrow down a bit from nature and fashion. Are there specific areas you are interested in?
 

fisicx

Active Member
I want to specialise in book cover illustration and i'm interested in topics such as nature and fashion. would be great if you could give me an example just so I can see what the format is meant to be and how I could convert the topics I love into a 'research thesis' or whatever they call it lol.
There are nature books for all ages. You could begin with an analysis of the different types of nature book, the target reader, the attractors that draw the to a partuclar book and so. The there are thousands of book you can analyse to build up a corpus of data which you can then use to identify common elements.

You may for example disciver books with cuddly animals in summer and large titles sell better to children.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Hi there

My course isn't very supportive and I've already asked for help/clarification. They seem very adamant on you 'figuring it out yourself' which I definitely think is good but they don't know where the line is drawn between doing that and just completely ignoring or abandoning students, especially ones with special needs.
Then I'd maybe have a chat with someone of higher position about their lack of support (while I was at uni we had to threaten going higher to get the tutor to 'correct' something the students didn't agree with) or go to someone in the school who is there to support students such as yourself, although other than student council I'm not sure who you would see. Actually thinking about it do you have a student rep for your course, mine did, and they're basically the 'middle person' between students and staff.

As to the topic of book covers..... You could maybe look at a broader spectrum of books and see how particular styles are associated with particular genre's or age groups.

But you also say you like nature and fashion.... so personally I'd say you'd have more to work with on fashion side so maybe a little side step but you could maybe migrate a little to magazines instead of books and then do a dissertation based on the style of presentations of magazines such as esquire/cosmopolitan etc, compare male versus female magazines, are there any similarities between publishing houses that type of thing.
I've bought a couple of 'mens fashion' magazines (GQ and esquire) due to wanting the free magazine about watches (I like watches) that came with it and just from these I can tell they have their own styles but there is an overlap in what they both see as the right design for the magazine.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Oh and a quick google came up with this site, might be useful for a quick read

which then obviously leads on to

Now be careful, this does seem to be USA centric but the principles shouldn't be too far off. Oh and don't use the writing services, they'll likely copy paste the same thing into whatever topic they can come up with.
 
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