It's June already and I haven't started my Masters Dissertation yet?!! Feeling very anxious!


So yeah, it’s mid-June already and I have not written a word of my Masters Dissertation yet. Zero words out of 20,000 words.

I am starting to get really anxious at the moment! I have been so focused on finishing all of my assignments that I have sort of neglected my dissertation! I don’t know what to do. I have to do everything from the reading, to conducting primary research and writing everything up by mid-September! It just seems an impossible task for me, and I’m already getting overwhelmed by all the pressure, which will result in my depression getting worse.

On top of this, I have secured a work placement with my Masters Degree, and I’m there until September and I have also a mini project to do with them as well!

I will also be starting a PhD in October as well, but at the moment I can’t help but feel as if I’ve screwed this up…
Any advice or stories you’d like to share guys?

Thank you,



Hi Adam,

I was in a similar position when I wrote my masters dissertation up and ended up writing the actual dissertation itself in about 2 weeks. My experiments kept failing up until the last minute so I was really stressed too and had no choice but to write it up very quickly, and I also had a PhD to start a week after my deadline, which meant finishing up and moving 200 miles from home to start the PhD! It was stressful but doable, so I promise you will be just fine!

Can you dedicate the next four weeks to read and conduct the research, then the following four weeks to write up? I know you have a placement too which I assume is full time hours, but even if you dedicate the weekends and two evenings a week for example, I think you'll be able to do it. The important thing is that it won't need to be perfect, just finished. Maybe try drawing up a table of contents so that you can break it down into chunks, to make it feel less overwhelming. I hope this helps. I promise you won't be the only person to feel this way and you'll finish and be able to start your PhD sooner than you think! Good luck and keep us posted how you get on.



You have plenty of time. Really, you can do this, you just need to accept that the next couple of months will be tough. Did you start your reading today? If not, start it right now. You can do this, but you need to stop thinking about doing it and do it.


Don't panic! As the others have said, it's definitely doable!

Maybe spend an hour or two working out a plan and like Tulip said break it down into chunks. I find it really helpful but it depends how you prefer to work as to what works best for you.

I started my dissertation quite late and the way I've done it is to spend a good week or two reading literature. I copy and paste quotes and full references into separate documents as I go (already have your bibliography mostly done this way!). I also make notes, as appropriate, about any of the articles. The I approach it like a story - plan it out, the reader knows nothing so what does your intro need to include. Split the intro down into sections and then assign each section a rough word limit.

Then, do the same for you lit review. Can you organise it by theme or topic? Then within each section, bullet point what you want to talk about. Use that plan to slot the lit quotes and notes into. You then have a lit review in bullet point form all planned out. Doing it this way, I have ended up with a plan that is already almost 5000 words so I can be selective when I start writing.

Anyway, that's what I found helpful so thought I would share in case it could help you too :)


Excellent advice already.

I want to echo jennypenny. Open the dissertation template and type the sections. Then move down to subsections and paragraphs. Bullet point each paragraph in a sentence. Getting the structure right is half the job done. If you are not familiar with the rules, get a book on scientific writing. Then move on producing the graphs and tables. The rest is pretty much filling in the gaps.

Keep notes as you read for the lit review. Create a table in excel : Study, Sample, Methodology, Results, Comments and fill it in as you go along. Use a reference software such as Mendeley.


You CAN do it! (As you can see from all the posts, there are quite a few individuals who's been in your position and gotten through it.)

The writing advice given here is great. But you need to get your mindset in the right space.

Take reading with you everywhere you go. When waiting or eating or riding the bus, read a paper you need to read. And read the abstract, intro and conclusion sections.

Also, designate at least three hours a day to actively only work on your dissertation. Treat it like an appointment you can't miss. I'll be writing more on this at
Good luck!


Am I the only one thinking that this is depending on the subject and the aim of this master degree (do you need a good mark or do you just want to pass)?


I don't think it matters what subject. The options are either get on and do it, or don't bother. Certainly, wondering if it can be done is a waste of time. Do or do not as Yoda would say.
20,000 words is not a huge amount, but the op needs to take action, not procrastinate by wondering if it's possible.

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You can also consider an extension if you really need more time. But it is better to show them you have something in hand that takes more time to be completed. So What are you waiting for? DO IT! JUST DO IT! YES, YOU CAN! (Shia LaBeouf's style ;)