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Preparing to write your MBA dissertation?

An MBA qualification is one of the most recognised business management degrees in the world. Successfully completing the qualification comes with its challenges. The degree requires commitment from the student in order to successfully complete assignments, pass examinations and fulfil the mini dissertation requirements to obtain the qualification. The mini dissertation is an integral part of completing your MBA, and it also requires the most amount of effort and time commitment. The most important considerations when embarking on this daunting task is putting a plan in place and structuring your course of action.

For any MBA student, it is important to manage time correctly. It is so easy to fall into the trap of procrastination because the tasks at hand may seem overwhelming. Along with coursework and research responsibilities, it is expected to also juggle a full-time job and other responsibilities that demand one’s time and attention, such as spouses, children and extended family. As a result of these demands, finding time to work on a mini dissertation can be difficult. Here are a few helpful tips that will help get your dissertation started and completed on time.

There is no better time than the present

It is crucial for an MBA student to become sensitive to the topics within modules covered on the MBA. Being conscious of possible dissertation topics right from the onset of your MBA will help to get the process started. Start investigating topics that are of personal interest and that incite passion as possible areas of study that research could be structured around. This is important to meaningfully prepare in advance and engage with this topic, come time to start your dissertation.

At Regenesys Business School, each MBA student is assigned a research supervisor early on, to assist with the research topic, and offer guidance and advice on each chapter completed by the student. This helps in the articulation of ideas. Getting other people’s opinions in advance also helps to approach the dissertation from different viewpoints.

Define area of interest

Writing a thesis or dissertation takes time, so it is necessary to discover an area of interest to start reading about. It is important to start reading around this topic to refine the research topic well in advance before a research topic is defined. This will ensure that the frustration and hours of wasted time that can result from aimlessly searching for information can be avoided.

Structuring the dissertation

Although the dissertation format may differ from institution to institution, the information provided below gives a basic idea of the sections of a mini dissertation.

Abstract - An abstract is a brief summary of the research to be conducted. It is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of the dissertation, acting as the point-of-entry for any given academic piece of writing.

Chapter 1 – Introduction
This involves setting the context of your mini dissertation and the issues that are going to be addressed in the research. The introduction also covers why the research will be conducted or the rationale behind it. It also provides the problem statement and objectives of the research as well as an outline of the whole study. 

Chapter 2 – Literature Review
Whatever the research problem may be, the researcher has to conduct an investigation into the literature related to the research problem i.e. the researcher will need to find informative sources, determine their relevance, read them thoroughly and synthesise the information, make informed judgements and finally, report on the information provided in each source.

As a researcher, it is important to consult the relevant literature to understand the Academic debates and arguments surrounding the chosen research topic. This will enable deeper insight into the topic and the identification of key issues that need to be explored. The researcher needs to present a summary and a critical appraisal of previous research on the research topic while identifying the gaps.

The Literature Review establishes the gaps, issues and contradictions in the existing literature on the research topic. It links the research questions/hypothesis with the gaps in the existing literature and allows analysis and discussion in relation to the aim of the proposed study. 

Chapter 3 – Methodology
This chapter deals with the how, why and what of the research topic. It indicates how the researcher is going to go about gathering and analysing data for the research. This is done through surveys, interviews or focus group discussions. This chapter contains information about the methodological approach. The chapter should answer a number of questions such as:

  • What approach does the research question/hypothesis necessitate and why?
  • Which data collection methods are linked to the research?
  • Which methods did the researcher decide on and why?
  • What other methods could you have chosen?
  • How is the data going to be collected?
  • How will the data be analysed?
  • How will the participants be chosen?
  • How will the researcher ensure that the data is reliable and valid?

Chapter 4 – Results and Analysis
This involves analysing how the data collected does or does not answer the research questions and proves the researcher’s hypotheses. This could be statistical in nature or theme based depending on the methodological approach followed. 

Chapter 5 – Discussion
This chapter should discuss the research findings and whether they prove or discard issues raised in your literature review. It also presents how your findings contribute to the research field, profession and documented knowledge around this topic. This chapter may also include recommendations from the researcher that have been proved by the research. 

Chapter 6 – Conclusion
The concluding chapter must sum up the study. It provides an overview of the study and literature. It indicates how the objectives, hypotheses, main findings and recommendations relate to one another. 

At the end of all pieces of academic writing, you need a list of materials that you have used or referred to. This is done by way of a reference list and should be presented alphabetically and according to the academic referencing rules followed by your institution. The purpose of this is to supply the information needed to allow an interested reader, researcher or examiner to find a source. 

This is where the information that is essential to explain your methodology, analysis and findings should be placed. Examples of information that could be included in an appendix include figures, tables, charts, graphs of results, statistics, questionnaires, lengthy derivations of equations and letters. Each separate appendix should be lettered, for example Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix B1, Appendix B2, Appendix C. The order they are presented in is dictated by the order they are mentioned in the text of the dissertation.

The dissertation format may differ from institution to institution, but this gives a basic idea of the chapters of a dissertation.

Managing time constraints

Although the dissertation seems like an endless project, it can be broken into smaller tasks and projects that are more manageable. It is imperative to plan work times and break the task into stages. Dissertation work should be done during productive times. The researcher needs to identify whether they are productive or write well in the morning, afternoon or they more productive in the evening? Once this is determined, it will help to schedule those hours for dissertation work.

Every day counts

  • Set aside time each week and each day for dissertation tasks
  • Do difficult tasks at productive times of the day
  • Do easy tasks when less motivated
  • It is important to make the dissertation flow, the individual chapters will contain their own arguments and flow but they all contribute to the main flow, (the golden thread.)
  • Keep record of all information sources consulted.

Finishing off and checking through

This stage can be time consuming, so leave enough time to have a final read through of the dissertation to pick up any lingering mistakes or typos. Good presentation matters – follow the rules for margins, fonts, table formats, and so on in early drafts. It is much easier to write the dissertation with all the formatting correct than to have to reformat several computer files at the last minute. It gives a professional appearance and puts the reader in a good mood. So it is worth making sure to leave enough time to proof-read and get the layout right.


This is the act of taking another person's writing, conversation, song, or even idea and passing it off as your own. This includes information from web pages, books, songs, television shows, email messages, interviews, articles, artworks or any other medium. Whenever one paraphrases, summarises, or takes words, phrases, or sentences from another person's work, it is necessary to indicate the source of the information within the paper using an internal citation. Failing to properly quote, cite or acknowledge someone else's words or ideas with an internal citation is plagiarism. Always acknowledge sources of information.

If possible, look at dissertations from previous years to see how they have been presented. At Regenesys, several dissertations are available at our library for students to use as references. Investigate the dissertation requirements early to make sure you are making appropriate progress toward the degree. Make sure when using human subjects in surveys or interviews, that their approval is obtained, and approval letters documented. Make sure to follow your Institutions’ regulations as are required for this process. It is highly recommended to consult a recognised, qualified editor to polish the language in the final dissertation draft as this could influence the final dissertation mark.

Help is closer than you think

In conclusion, consult allocated supervisors at every stage of the dissertation. Consult other students who may have completed their dissertations and get as much advice as possible. Do not neglect health requirements during this period, by making sure to eat right and exercise to remain stimulated. Seek feedback regularly, this will make this task a little bit more easier.


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