In the past few weeks, I’ve worked as a betting assistant at Royal Ascot (yes, really), gone through the crazy process of gutting out a student house of all its weeds, mess and mould on the ceilings to move house and learned the true definition of ‘bad neighbours’ – think 4.30am drinks in the back garden with speakers blaring, chucking empty cans and bottles into our back garden, filling up our bins with their unwanted rubbish. But I’m not talking about any of that today, I’m afraid. Maybe another time. Today’s more about the fact that I’ve decided not to write a dissertation in my final year of uni.
But isn’t a dissertation a compulsory piece of writing that, like, everybody has to go through to be deserving of their degree? I thought so too. I still sort of think so. In the style of a true (‘true’) Philosophy student, here’s the vaguely structured argument that I went through with myself to reach my decision – a decision I’m happy with, I should add!
(Before we go on, I feel like I need to stress that I’m not trying to make myself sound holier-than-thou and superior to anyone that has chosen to, or has to, write a dissertation. I’m not that much of a dick.)
I should definitely write a dissertation because it’s only 10,000 words and you have the majority of a year to complete it from start to finish. 10,000 words in a year? I can whack out 2000 words for an essay in 2 weeks under pressure! 10,000 words is a doddle. Besides, it’ll be really fun to get my teeth into something and do loads of research and become really knowledgeable about something in particular. Imagine if, in years to come, I could talk about the significance of a foundationalist view of knowledge, and its implications for modern-day thinkers when discussing how we come to know anything about the world, in a job interview. How great would it be to show a real passion for something like that? If I haven’t already convinced you, Emma, everybody does a dissertation. Literally everybody. Not writing a dissertation definitely puts you across as a commitment-phobe who isn’t confident in her abilities to score a 2:1 in an essay that is supervised for a whole year. Come on. Do it. You know you want to.
Yeah, well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you’re wrong on just about every count there. A 10,000 word essay is far from a doddle. (Great word, by the way.) Ever heard of a literature review? No such thing as a reading list, girl! You’re completely on your own on this one. You might spend two solid days reading the entirety of Austin’s ‘Sense and Sensibilia’ only to find that none of it directly relates to the question you’re writing about. Dissertations are never just ‘Discuss’ questions. They aren’t a walk in a park. Also, that job interview excuse? Let’s be real here. Is anyone in a proper job interview going to ask you about some horrifically specific philosophical question? Thought not. You can show your passion and commitment to your degree just by doing well in your other modules. You don’t need an extended project to show that – some people just do better in exams.
That last point. Stop being so hard on yourself! I can tell you don’t really want to do it though, and if you’re not enthusiastic bullying yourself into it won’t solve anything. You obviously don’t feel organised enough at this point in your life to do it. So why put yourself through that?
Yeah, but, you’re wrong, because –
To any of you lucky enough to be given the choice when it comes to writing a dissertation, my advice would be to just give it a long hard think. I can’t tell you what to do. I can barely tell myself what to do.
Until next time,