1st Class Psychology Dissertation Examples

First-class dissertation criteria

There are four categories for this type of academic document: first class, second class, third class and fail. To clarify what is meant by a” first-class dissertation “, a final grade of 70 percent or higher is generally required. If you want to write a first-class dissertation, the highest class possible, it is imperative that you understand exactly what the markers are looking for.

Communicate with your supervisors

Your supervisors play a vital role in getting a first grade for your dissertation. Ask them to thoroughly review your work before final submission.  Ask for positive feedback, as well as constructive criticism, emphasising that your ultimate goal is to achieve a first-class mark in your dissertation.  Make sure to keep your supervisors well informed throughout the process, and advise them if you encounter any problems while writing your dissertation.  Some students even opt to prepare a weekly or monthly progress report so they maintain constant communication.

Many students fail to complete this crucial step; unfortunately, this mistake often costs them valuable marks, which may result in receiving a second or third-class grade.  Obtaining feedback from your supervisors will not only reduce the amount of time required to revise your thesis or dissertation, but it will also greatly increase your chances of obtaining your desired grade.

In addition to ensuring all of the established criteria are met to a very high standard, the written research must also be at a very high level.  This includes properly structured sentences and paragraphs with correct syntax and grammar, as well as factual, interesting content. It will be very difficult to achieve a first-class grade if you present a dissertation that contains a poorly chosen topic or a thesis that is hard to defend.

Content of a first-class thesis or dissertation

There is a specific dissertation structure to use when writing this type of dissertation or thesis, and it begins with an introduction and literature review, followed by a methodology, conclusion, recommendations, and finally references. Each of these sections will be explained in further detail.

The writermust convey a clear and thorough knowledge of the practical and theoretical materials.  Any theses or dissertations written in support of management or business studies must include clearly developed management and business practice strategies.  The author must convey a balance of creative and critical thinking, as well as the ability to reflect any of the theory’s limitations and research methodologies.  A first-class thesis or dissertation will also include alternative options recommended by the author.


This initial section of a first-class dissertation should include a background of the particular study, and it is often one of the hardest sections to write. The introduction prepares the reader for the content to follow and provides a proper context for the relevant research. The introduction must also convey the study’s objectives and goals. It is often easier to edit this section of the dissertation after you have completed the remaining sections of the document.

A captivating thesis

A well-written introduction will motivate and interest the reader, whilst a poorly worded introduction will have the exact opposite effect. Hence, be sure you don’t choose an opening that is too trite, general or vague. The introduction will also lay out the thesis for your academic paper, which is the issue your paper will discuss and analyse. Don’t make the common mistake of choosing a topic, rather than a thesis in this section. A solid, well-written thesis will be clearly expressed, specific and arguable.

Literature Review

The second part of a first-class thesis, called a literature review, must centre on current issues that pertain to your particular research area or topic, practice and theory. The author must also present a solid statement highlighting the problems that will be researched. Students need to ensure they are utilising current evidence to support the paper’s research topic. This means choosing relevant journal articles that are current. For example, if the dissertation is written in 2013, the news and journal articles should be no older than 2011, unless they are key texts and papers which have shaped the issue in question.

Reliable Data Sources

Writing a solid thesis or dissertation also involves analysing relevant models and theories related to a thorough literature search.  Some recommended sources for the literature review include newspapers, the news, textbooks and journal articles.  It is also crucial that students verify the accuracy and reliability of any secondary data sources.  Many reliable sources can be found online on sites such as www.statistics.gov.uk, www.bbc.co.uk and www.emeraldinsight.com.


This section includes:

  • Primary/Secondary research design
  • Information sources – list all secondary data sources such as textbooks, journal articles, websites, etc.
  • Timetable – detail the specific number of days or weeks theauthor spent performing relevant tasks such as typing up the dissertation or distributing questionnaires.
  • Data analysis – describe all the methods of analysis used in the thesis and remember to review other student theses or dissertations,which are normally available from the library

Students must adopt a critical survey approach when they write a first-class thesis.  This includes using SPSS for data analysis if the research involves questionnaires. Business research books are are commended source to investigate the various research methods that can be used.

The author of a thesis can choose to adopt qualitative, rather than quantitative research methods.  This will depend on your personal preference, and your affinity for statistics and numbers. If you are unsure which method you should use, it is best to discuss the issue with your supervisor.

In addition, the research methodology will determine the analysis of the primary data.  For example, questionnaires will involve the use of the SPSS program, whereas descriptive patterns can be used for any interviews conducted with focus groups.

It’s important to note that the content of a dissertation or thesismust be written with a critical eye.  Rather than implying that thecontent must be negative, the author must simply adopt a questioningapproach and attempt to explain the findings of the research.  Studentsmust clearly demonstrate the validity of their argument and interpret,demonstrate and explain it as thoroughly as possible.

If a thesis or dissertation includes elements such as additional statistics, tables, calculations or figures, the author must include a complete and critical explanation or comment for each.  If you fail to include any comments or you provide an insufficient explanation, you may end up losing valuable marks.


The final chapter of a first-class dissertation is called the conclusion, and it should include recommendations and conclusions that incite additional investigation or action. Any current issues relating to the research topic should be presented and arguments both for and against the topic should be included.

When you reference your thesis or dissertation, you need to ensure all of your references are correctly cited and consistent. You should use the Harvard system for this type of academic document. Details about this particular referencing system can be found on any of the major online search engines such as MSN, Yahoo! or Google, as well as websites such as http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/harvard.htm.

Writing style

If you want to earn a high mark for your thesis or dissertation, you must pay proper attention to your writing style. The writing style of this type of academic paper is very different from other informal documents such as personal letters. Make sure you take note of the following guidelines, which reflect proper writing style for dissertations:

Appropriate Terminology

Avoid all conversational, colloquial or informal expressions used in general conversation such as “kind of” or “just about”.  A first-class thesis or dissertation should also not include an excessive use of technical language.  A clear, concise writing style is recommended for writing such an academic document.

Rather than using first-person terms such as “me” or “I”, you should choose nouns such as “researcher” when you are writing your thesis. Whenever possible, you should also use plural subjects, rather than“he/she” or “her/his”.  This is the recommended format for academic documents such as theses.

You should also avoid words such as “bad”, “good”, “perfect”,“ideal,” etc, that make qualitative judgments.  Instead, refer to anyerrors or facts by choosing terms such as “correct” or “incorrect”. The goal of a dissertation or thesis is not to make a judgment, but topresent a valid, well-researched argument regarding a certain topic.

Proper punctuation, spelling and grammar
Make sure all of your sentences are correctly punctuated and that there are no spelling mistakes. You should also develop each of your paragraphs properly and include appropriate linking phrases or words to guide the reader through the various sections of the thesis.  Most paragraphs should include about five to six sentences, although some may be shorter.

Enlist the help of a native English speaker to proofread your thesis if English is not your first language.  Non-native English speakers have a much greater probability of making grammatical or syntactical errors in their academic paper.  Hence, you should ensure your dissertation does not contain any spelling or grammatical errors before submitting the document to your supervisor.  You will lose marks for submitting a paper that contains numerous errors and has not been proofread and corrected.  An error-free thesis or dissertation will also convey a more professional appearance and be much easier for the marker to read.

During the initial planning of your thesis, you do not need to focus on issues such as verb agreement.  However, you should allot sufficient time to correct any grammatical or spelling errors as you write your dissertation.  Your writing skills will continue to improve as you rewrite your academic paper.  This process will also enable you to convey your ideas more succinctly, rather than merely jotting down any last-minute ideas.

As soon as you have completed writing your thesis, ask anotherindividual to read your paper.  Discuss any ideas or criticisms thisperson may have in terms of the ideas presented in your document, aswell as the language used to express them.

If you want to achieve your goal of writing a first-class dissertation, you must ensure your thesis includes all of the necessary elements, is written concisely, is free of grammatical or spelling errors and presents a valid argument with solid research to support it.  If you have any concerns or questions, be sure to discuss them with your supervisor.  You can also consult the Internet or library for relevant guidelines and advice on writing academic documents.



BOLKER, J (1998) Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: AGuide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis, HenryHolt and Company, LLC, New York

SKWIRE, D & SKWIRE, S (1990) Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric and Reader, 5th Ed., New York

MADSEN, D (1992) Successful Dissertations and Theses, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, San Francisco

NEWTON, RAE R & RUDESTAM, K (2001) Surviving YourDissertation:  A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process, SagePublications, Inc, California

OGDEN, E ( 2007) Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in TwoSemesters or Less, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., BlueRidge Summit

SWETNAM, D (2004) Writing Your Dissertation: The Bestselling Guideto Planning, Preparing and Presenting First-Class Work, How to Books Ltd., Oxford

Journal Articles

GILMORE, A, CARSON, D and PERRY, C (2006) ‘Academic publishing: Best practices for editors, guest editors, authors and reviewers’, European Business Review, 18:6, 468–478

STEVENS, C and CAMPBELL, P 2006, ‘Collaborating to connect globalcitizenship, information literacy and lifelong learning in the globalstudies classroom’, Reference Services Review, 34:4, 536–556

World Wide Web

Online Dissertation Help 2008, viewed November 10 2008,http://onlinedissertationhelp.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/how-to-write-a-first-class-thesis-or-dissertation/

WILSON, K & Articlesbase 2007, How to Write a First Class Thesis or Dissertation, viewed November 10 2008 http://www.articlesbase.com/article-writing-articles/how-to-write-a-first-class-thesis-or-dissertation-256512.html

Dartmouth Writing Program 2005, Writing a Thesis, viewed November 10 2008 http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/thesis.shtml

FLEMING, G & About.com 2008: Homework/Study Tips, The Thesis Sentence, viewed November 10, 2008 http://homeworktips.about.com/od/thesissentence/a/fuss.htm

Monash University Education 2008, Writing a Research Thesis, viewed November 10, 2008 http://www.education.monash.edu.au/students/current/study-resources/thesiswriting.html

Birmingham City University 2007, How to Write a Dissertation, viewed November 10, 2008& http://www.ssdd.bcu.ac.uk/learner/writingguides/1.03.htm

University of Newcastle upon Tyne 2001, Writing Research Theses or Dissertations (Guidelines and tips), viewed November 10, 2008http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/dec/essay.dissertation.htm

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What Does a 1st Class Dissertation Look Like?

John | July 9, 2014

WritePass - Essay Writing - Dissertation Topics [TOC]

For under- and post-graduate students alike, just the word “Dissertation” can send shivers down their spines and make the blood run cold in their veins. After all, dissertations are long, require extensive research and writing skills, and – worst of all – tend to carry up to 60% of your final grade. As well as this, to get a 1st class dissertation you need to score at least 70%; no pressure then.

Unfortunately there can be relatively minimum amount of guidance and help from universities about what goes into writing a 1st class dissertation, or the essential components of a high quality research piece. They tell you that you should demonstrate extensive knowledge in your chosen topic areas and relevant research methods but do little to explain what that actually looks like or give you a structure to follow.

Fortunately WritePass are able to help shed some light on this difficult subject and help you to walk away with the lion’s share of the marks and get the highest grades:


1) Know your Aims

Before you start writing, you need to be clear on what a top quality dissertation requires: clear objectives and aims; tightly structured writing; and grammatically and syntactically correct language. The research writing must show strong evidence of critical and creative thinking and a readiness to consider the limitations of the theory applied within the research – examiners don’t want you to agree with all the existing arguments, nor do they want you to disagree; you need to provide a measure argument that reasonably handles the evidence.

The introduction of your dissertation is the ideal time to clearly provide the aims and objectives of the study for the examiner to see; for example, you could use a sentence like “the aim of this research is to find a positioning of The Body Shop brand within the consumer’s mind.”

2) The importance of Research

A First class dissertation must show a real focus on the issues that are relevant to your area of study, and combine the theory and practice together with a clear statement of the problems to be researched. Therefore good dissertation writing must contain an analysis of relevant theories and models based on the demonstrably systematic and in-depth literature search.

Make sure you go that extra mile and ensure that your resources are current and relevant – DON’T recycle outdated texts and ideas. Show your examiner that you have a keen and current view of the issues you are discussing.

Good sources for literature include (but aren’t limited to) textbooks, journal articles, newspapers and the news.

3) Work it through

For many degrees it is a requirement that 1st-class thesis writing should contain high quality data research. If this is true of your dissertation then make sure you adopt a critical survey approach; for example, if you are using questionnaires, you should adopt SPSS to analyse the data.

When producing descriptive thesis writing, remember that it should be critical. This does not mean that it has to be negative. It is, rather, a matter of adopting a questioning approach and trying to explain the reasons why things are as they are. It is important to show the significance of your argument and to demonstrate, interpret and explain as fully as possible why this is.

4) Don’t overlook the referencing

Having polished references is a key part of a dissertation; after all, if you want the highest grades your work has to be near-publishable standards.

If you are unsure about what this form of referencing looks like you can do a quick search online or on Google, or get in touch with Writepass who have a team of professional proof-readers who can help correct and improve your referencing in your dissertation. Click here to get referencing help.

5) Write like a writer

To make sure you get the highest grades you must have a top quality writing style: avoid informality and conversational expressions; avoid excessive technical language – your writing must be clear and concise; use nouns such as “researcher” in your writing. These words are preferable in academic writing as they are more accurate and transparent than first person terms such as “I” or “me”.

If English is not your first language, it is advisable to have your dissertation proofread by a native speaker to correct grammatical mistakes before submitting it. WritePass can provide proofreading assistance for ESL students.

After finishing your writing, get someone to read your work in order to see what people think about the language and the ideas the paper presents. Ask them to feedback on whether they felt the writing style was clear, the arguments well balanced and whether the main aims of the study were received and understood.


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