A dissertation is a long piece of (usually) written work on the same topic.
Inundating your supervisor with emails or multiple iterations of draft material is best avoided; they will have their own research to manage (as well as other supervision assignments) and will be able to offer better quality feedback if you stick to an agreed schedule.
On most courses your dissertation will be assessed by an external examiner (as well as additional members of faculty within your university who haven’t been responsible for supervising you), but these will read and critique the work you submit without personally questioning and testing you on it.
This might be someone who has already taught you, or it may be another scholar whose research interests and expertise align well with what you want to do.
You may be able to request a particular supervisor, but taught postgraduates are more likely to be assigned them by their department.
By contrast, during your Masters thesis you’ll need to show that you are not just capable of analysing and critiquing original data or primary source material, but are also aware of the existing body of scholarship relating to your topic and can situate your work within this space.
So, if you’ll excuse the pun, a ‘Masters’ degree really is about achieving ‘mastery’ of your particular specialism and the dissertation is where you’ll demonstrate this: showing off the scholarly expertise and research skills that you’ve developed across your programme.A Masters dissertation will be longer than the undergraduate equivalent – usually it’ll be somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 words, but this can vary widely between courses, institutions and countries.To more comprehensively answer your overall research question, you are likely to be expected to identify and individually examine specific issues or areas of your topic.As a postgraduate, you’ll be expected to establish and assert your own critical voice as a member of the academic community associated with your field.Your undergraduate dissertation will have given you a chance to prove the competence you have developed in your subject area by undertaking an independent research task.Though this examination process is not as challenging as the oral defence or ‘viva voce’ required for a Ph D thesis, the grading of your Masters dissertation is still a fundamental component of your degree.It will usually be worth around 60 credits – a third of the total 180 credit value for a UK Masters – and will therefore play a key role in determining your final result.You should also check with your university exactly which sections of the dissertation count towards the final word count (the abstract, bibliography and appendices won’t usually be included in the total).As a Masters student at the dissertation stage you’ll usually be matched with an academic within your institution who will be tasked with guiding your work.This can be a bit like producing a series of shorter pieces of work, similar to those required by individual modules, but with the further requirement that they collectively demonstrate and support a broader set of conclusions.This more involved structure will: If the individual topics within your overall project require you to access separate sources or datasets and to plan around their availability, this may also have an impact on your research process.