Last chance to complete my Master's dissertation (Political science)



I, as of today, have less than 3 months in order to submit my Master's dissertation. I have an outline, most of the relevant literature but 0 words on paper. The minimum number off words required is 12,500 words and it is due July 30th. I have no excuses to explain the situation I'm in, I was unhappy with the degree but I had completed all the courses and decided to just go through with it mainly because I had received a scholarship. Unfortunately, I was and still am suffering from anxiety induced procrastination which has led me to this moment. I will be taking off a full month off of work starting next week ( May 14th) to work on it. I would have to return back to work on June 18th but I might manage to get an additional 2 weeks off of work. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to proceed and would like to hear any advice or experience from people who've had dealt with a similar tight deadline. Thank you


I think you have plenty of time to write 12,500 so try not to worry (easier said than done, I know). I think I had 6 weeks to write the dissertation for my Masters.

I think writing varies by person but these are what work for me:
1. Section and sub section headers - You don't have to keep these, I sometimes just add one to remind me what I need a paragraph on. There's nothing worse than staring at a blank page feeling overwhelmed.
2. Bullet points to flesh out those headings
3. Start with some of the easier paragraphs first - As I said earlier, you don't want to be staring at a blank page, so writing things like your aims and methods first might be getting the easier stuff out the way first but will make you feel like you've got stuff done.
4. Small word count targets - aim low initially 200-500 words a day and then once you get into the habit of writing daily you can increase this (500 words a day is only 25 days).

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hi cowsandbeef,

It is very doable and don't give up hope. Chantedsnicker has some very good advice. To get over anxiety, I w focus on achieving a good grade, on what I can achieve and not the possibility of failure. You get no-where if you just procrastinate.

Sometimes, what I do when I am having trouble getting started is that I just write in plain non-scientific English. I force myself to keep writing a simple flowing argument with minimal proofreading (I only fix spelling mistakes) until I have finished. I usually get 1000-2000 words of what is pure utter garbage but when I come back to it the next day I have something. It will be useless but you can look at and see what you need you need to do to fix. As you will have a basic argument with a semi-flowing structure and you can then edit it until it is better. It isn't efficient but it can sometimes overcome writer's block.

Goodluck! You can do it!


Yeh good luck cowsandbeef - you can definitely do it! Another strategy to help overcome anxiety is to focus on getting a pass... not a merit or a distinction, but the minimal you need to pass. Once that becomes your focus, you stop fretting and just get on with it. (And then improve it as you go so you end up doing it to the best of your ability rather than being hindered by anxiety of not doing it well enough to get a merit or a distinction or whatever). All the best!


Assuming that you are a full time student, you would have done something similar already. Assignment deadlines for each semester usually all fall on the same date near the end of the semester. In a 12 week semester, topics for the essays are usually chosen in week 5-6, so that's 3 essays of 4 000 words, about the length of your dissertation, in about 6-7 weeks.

Even if you are part-time student, the above time scale would suggest that that it's normal to write 12 000 words in about a month and a half. Therefore, you have plenty of time to do a decent 12 500-words dissertation in 2 and a bit months. 4 000 words a week should be very doable if you have an outline planned. Use the rest of the time to edit, polish and proof-read. The best thing you could do is to stop worrying and starting writing. It's not a tight deadline, and you have plenty of time to produce a great dissertation!

Lastly, don't be too concern about grades as you write. Just concentrate on the logical flow, getting your (coherent) arguments across, and proper referencing. It's quite hard to actually fail, and you might well be surprised by your marks if you just get the basics right.