Give me hope?

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Long story short:

I've been a professional musician and music teacher for years. Just finishing my Masters. *Really* want to go on to do a PhD and go into university lecturing. I've been doing so well with my course, but the wheels have come off it over the last few months, mainly with depression and being overworked in the day job. The dissertation has killed me.

I need to give my final draft to my supervisor on Monday. It's shit. Three main chapters, plus Intro and Conclusion. The latter have yet to be written at all. The three main chapters have to be re-written from scratch. Terrible style. All description; no analysis. I've been doing this for two years and I'm still not entirely sure what "Methodology" is, ffs.

I have the most awful feeling I'm going to completely screw this whole thing up - like I've done with pretty much everything else I've ever done.

I'm almost certain I'll pass the MA, even with a poor dissertation. But I need to do more than just pass... I guess what I want to know is, would making a pig's ear of my MA dissertation put a stop to my hopes of going on to a PhD and then lecturing/academia?


If you pass your MA then you've got a good chance of getting onto a PhD. I doubt anyone will ever ask what grade you got in your dissertation, even if officially you may have to upload a transcript.

Bear in mind, academic jobs are scarce and competitive.


No matter what happens, work on that self esteem with a good counsellor. I speak from experience.

There are some excellent examples of masters dissertations online. Having a google frenzy with it has really helped me understand what is required. I'd urge you to do this.

Good luck :)


I agree with spidermanx2 :)

First things first.. relax. It's usually not as bad as it feels. So you will pass? Great.. now how about you aim a little higher? A MSc is supposed to be tough or everyone would have one. You may have to rewrite 3 chapters but not from scratch - some description will be required.

Screw things up? So what? Have another crack if you do... or how about you give this one your all? Then however well/bad you do - you did yourself justice? That is my philosophy.. as long as I did what I could and am honest to myself then I get out what I put in.

As for methodology? Well.. an 'ology' is the study of something (apart technology!) so you are studying the method. The method is what you used and methodology is the study of the methods. So answer is - why did you use your chosen method and not any of the others? That's your methodology section!

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Dudes, you are all such lovelies!

Unfortunately, due to the moderation of newbies, the post I wrote on Saturday didn't appear til today! But thank you for your kind words of encouragement all the same.

Thankfully, my wife (who is doing her MSc dissertation) dragged me to the library. We worked side by side in a reasonably well-populated area of the library, which stopped me from slumping over the keyboard and crying... And somehow I ground out the revisions on one chapter. This was enough to get me on my way, and last night I handed in my final draft.

This morning's meeting with my supervisor was difficult but productive. I have A LOT to do to whip this thing into shape, but at least now I have a finished draft (however shoddy) to work with, rather than feeling like I'm catching up with myself.

Now hopefully in the future I can remember that I got through this*! 😄

Thanks again, everybody!

*btw, I am totally aware that I'm talking about "getting through" a dissertation, not something actually life-changingly traumatic! #FirstWorldProblems


Great stuff... come back 6 months after you've graduated and read this thread again. I bet you'll have a different view!


The mistake I and many other did was to go into the PhD expecting too much from ourselves. You are not expected to revolutionise the field in your PhD. You are just expected to show that you can carry out a research project for 3-4 years old or longer.

This kind of ties in with your question about methodology. I dont know anything about music, but let me try to explain it anyway. Say for example that in music studies you have 3 fields of reasearch: music history, the sociology of music, and cognitive music studies (just made them up on the spot! ). Music history you study music texts. Music aociology you study the context. Cognitive music you study the way music works in human brains.

It should be obvious that these three Immaginary disdiplines should have three distinct methods of going about collecting data and generating hypotheses: in history, you may chose a particular historical period and gather a body of texts to analyize. This is your methodoloy. In sociology, again you chose a particular aspect - say: the music industry and piracy, and you study the changes that piracy brougt to the production of music. Here your method is probably going to be interviews and more quantitative data analysis. Finally, cognitive music, you may work in a lab with some kind of monitoring device to see how the brain respond to music? Here your method is to collect data from your monitoring device and then analyze the data.

Feels like I could do a PhD in musicology after writing all that!