Thesis Preparation and Submission


The aim of this piece of work is to demonstrate the skills you have learnt on the course. In particular you must show that you are able to pose a sensible research question, select appropriate methods to answer that question, manage and analyse your data appropriately, and to make valid inferences from your results. It also tests your ability to express yourself clearly and logically.

The project is a large component of the MSc degree: it is worth 60 credits out of the total 180 credits

Literature Review (3000 – 4000 words ) Submitted by 2nd May if completing in 2011

A referenced review of a topic of the candidate‟s choice which is expected to be a review related to the chosen research topic. As such the review should conclude with an explanation of the proposed research and an outline of the protocol/methodology to be followed. This will form the basis for the Introduction section of the final report. Feedback will be given by supervisors regarding, especially, any topics that students have overlooked

Two hard copies should be submitted and an electronic copy sent to Catherine Mclean for UCL „Turnitin‟ scan. Work should be word-processed, double-spaced, single-sided A4 and bound. Binding should not cost more than about £5.00 and it is suggested you select a method which allows for page substitution if necessary.

Research Report (10 000 +/- 10%) Submitted by 22th August if completing in 2011. Projects handed in any later than this date CANNOT be considered by the examiners in 2011.

The Research Project is the largest single component of the MSc, contributing one third of the credits. It is what distinguishes a full MSc from a post grad Certificate or Diploma.

It should be a “substantial piece of work”, of the order of 10,000 words (+/- 10%). Work should be word-processed, 12 font, double-spaced, single-sided A4 and bound. Binding should not cost more than about £5.00 and it is suggested you select a method which allows for page substitution if necessary. Two copies should be submitted with a third being retained by the candidate as the other copies will not be available before the viva.

Research Presentation

To be confirmed but probably 20th September 2011. 10 minute presentation with an additional 5 minutes for you to answer any questions. The audience comprises external examiners, university academics, clinicians, course tutors, clinical supervisors and your fellow students and guests. Presentation should be practised and professional using slides and/or clear overheads to illustrate.


To be confirmed but probably 20th September 2011.

This takes place with two to four examiners, one who may be external. The discussion focuses around the research project. If there has been any weakness in written papers, candidates are informed of this after submission of the research report but before the viva. The viva thus provides an opportunity for these weaker areas to be discussed and hopefully remedied. The candidates overall view of the course may also be discussed.

What goes into the dissertation?


This is a brief summary of the whole project and usually comprises no more than a page



A list of contents including tables, figures with page numbers.

Aims and objectives

“Aims” usually give a broad and clear statement of what you are setting out to do: “To study parents‟ attitudes to services provided for children with autism in X PCT” The “objectives” is a more detailed list of the specific things you intend to find out.


This includes a broad overview of the subject of interest with a statement about what is known about it.


This should include a review of the literature relevant to your area of interest. The important point is that this should be a CRITICAL appraisal of the literature. For example if you are describing a study that reported a particular finding you should briefly describe what the study set out to do, what was done, why this is a good or bad study, and whether the findings are valid or not.

How do I decide what I should include in the background?

If for example you were planning a study of parents‟ attitudes to the services for children with autism in one PCT. You would include in your background information about the disorder: what it is, and how it is defined and diagnosed; how many children are affected; any national/professional guidance on management. How services are evaluated and in particular how one might assess parents‟ attitudes.

Then you might describe the population characteristics of your area (local Public Health Reports are a good source of information) the local services- what is offered, by whom and how children get it, any evaluations of the service done before.

Any pre-existing instruments used by others in similar circumstances, e.g. questionnaires would need to be discussed here: why you are using it and information about its development and validity.


This is a description of what you did, or if this is a proposal, what you will do.

What is your sample? e.g. all parents of children attending a clinic for children with ASD aged 5-10 years in x PCT. (inclusion criteria) Describe any exclusion criteria, (children with co morbidities). How did you get the sample? Was it through a register, through professionals, parents‟ organisation etc? Justification for and feasibility of collecting the proposed sample size should be given here.

Details of all data to be collected should be given and measurement scales referenced where appropriate. It should be clear what will happen, in terms of data collection, to each recruited study participant. Any details to be collected from those refusing to participate should be stated. (Where possible information should be collected from refusers/non respondents so that any bias can be ascertained, at the very least, the number of refusers/non respondents should be recorded.) You should describe the way the data collected will be used to answer the proposed research question. How the data will be displayed and the statistical analyses to be performed should be outlined. Data storage and means of analysis (use of statistical package) should be given with any relevant references. How will the data be entered on to the computer and how will you analyse it/produce graphs?

Usually describe ethics approval here.


A description of what you found. This can comprise text, tables usually a mixture of both. In this section do not discuss your findings just present them. If you are not collecting data you need to describe what you would do with it. How would you code it and then analyse it. You could present some dummy tables.


Discuss YOUR findings and if relevant any information with which you can compare them, in the context of the literature you have reviewed. How do they compare? If different why is this so? Are they both representative? This is also where you should discuss the strengths and limitations of your work. For example a poor response rate, why this happened, what it may mean for the validity of your results and how you could improve on it if you repeated the study.

Conclusions/recommendations for practice and/or further research What conclusions you can draw from your study and how these might be used in practice or taken further with more research.


Include here any questionnaires or letters used or any other relevant pieces of information e.g. policies, leaflets.


There are several ways of referencing, (the preferred for dissertations is Harvard: author and date).

With Harvard, the names and dates appear in the text e.g. (Rahi and Dezateux, 1999) with full list at the end in alphabetical order.


You are strongly advised to use a programme for managing your references such as Refman.

Referencing material on the Internet Material that you are referencing from the Internet needs to include the date on which you last accessed the material, a clear address, author and title.

“Plagiarism is defined as the presentation of another person's thoughts or words or artifacts or software as though they were a student's own. Any quotation from the published or unpublished works of other persons must, therefore, be clearly identified as such by being placed inside quotation marks, and students should identify their sources as accurately and fully as possible. A series of short quotations from several different sources, if not clearly identified as such, constitutes plagiarism just as much as does a single unacknowledged long quotation from a single source. Equally, if a student summarises another person's ideas, judgements, figures, software or diagrams, a reference to that person in the text must be made and the work referred to must be included in the bibliography. Use of unacknowledged information downloaded from the internet also constitutes plagiarism.” In practice if you quote a sentence from a reference verbatim you would use the following format:

As Bedford and Elliman (2004) state in their editorial: “Parents should therefore be encouraged to have their children immunised according to the current schedule, until the new one is introduced”.

If it is a longer quotation probably better to separate it off, and indent as follows:

Bedford and Elliman‟s concluding comments in their editorial (2004) on the new combination vaccine are:

“Although this regimen will not increase the number of diseases covered by the programme, it represents an important step forward in the United Kingdom‟s vaccination programme. However, the benefits of the new vaccine do not outweigh the risks of delaying immunisation until its introduction. Such a delay would leave a child unnecessarily at risk of death and disability from whooping cough and Hib disease. Parents should therefore be encouraged to have their children immunised according to the current schedule, until the new one is introduced.”