STUDENT RESOURCES

Beneath some of the dissertations, you will find testimonials from the authors; the purpose of these accompanying paragraphs is to explicate that the path to greatness is a meandering road. All of the undergraduate authors faced and overcame adversity en route to achieving a first class.

Greatness requires great examples.

As students sometimes all you need is a great example to assure you that you have the right idea about an assignment.

However, it can often be challenging to find great examples to draw ideas from. We have thus created this page dedicated to first class dissertations.

Through reading these theses, you should understand that earning a first class grade is attainable.

Even if none of the dissertations below are in your area of study, hopefully you can draw inspiration from how the content is structured or even the design of the document.


We look forward to adding your own first class dissertation to this page soon! #upthegreatness

 

This collection of dissertations, spanning disciplines from sociology to fashion, all boast grades of 70 or higher.

Black (Hu)Man, white world (Undergraduate Thesis).pdf
Does the Gender and National composition of boardrooms affect Firm Performance (Dissertation).pdf
The Fine Line between Charismatic and Narcissistic Leadership.pdf

Politics and International Relations (BA) Graduate

 "Although I earnt a first class degree and received a first class grade in every module (bar one) throughout my final year, my path to academic success was by no means linear. At the end of Year 12, I was dropped from both my Politics and Philosophy classes due to my poor grades. It was an arduous period as my mother considered transferring me to a different school since, my current school would only allow me to sit two A-Levels. We came to a solution though as I was told that I must complete a BTEC in Business in Year 13 [his final year of high school] to be accepted into my university. The entire experience was not ideal. I remember my parents being visibly distressed. Yet, I still did not wake up to how grossly I was underperforming. In hindsight, at that point, my effort was less than the bare minimum. 

However, during the following summer after learning that I scraped into my university, I was provided with an opportunity to reflect. I knew that despite what I had been telling my parents and my teachers, I was not giving all of myself into my studies. Frankly, I was not putting my best self into anything. Throughout the majority of my high school experience, I was distracted by trivial things. For seven years, within the classroom, I had essentially been coasting off my natural intellect – which could only get me so far. I accepted that if I wanted to achieve the highest grades possible at university, I was going to have to chose to absolutely apply myself. Nobody was going to be on my case anymore. Everything from now on was between me and the mirror. I was confident though as I knew within myself there was another level I could go to. Anyone that heard me say, while in high school, that I was doing my best should now know that I was lying. I was simply looking to do just enough. 

Once I entered into university I found the transition into a mindset of giving my all to be refreshing. There is a rush of contentment that follows the actions you do in pursuit of being your best self. Discipline was vital. I was an individual who executed a routine so intensely that to some, it appeared as insanity and to most, it was at least abnormality. Yet, each year, my grades continued to improve thus by the time I reached my final year, first class grades were my standard. 

Admittedly, in the Christmas break of my final year, that old mentality of doing "just enough" reared its head as I handed in one sloppy assignment. I could blame the essay's inadequacy on several mitigating excuses however, I am actually grateful for the faux pas as it reinvigorated me. From that point on, I was determined that everything else I submitted until my degree's completion must be of my standard. A first class standard. And it was. That one sloppy, shortcut-ridden, New Years' Eve-submitted assignment was my only 2:1 of that entire final year." 

Economics (BSc) Graduate

 "[I] missed my predicted grades for A-levels in Year 13 and did not do as well as I hoped, due to personal reasons, but still got offered the opportunity to study Economics at my first choice university.

[My] first year was fine but, I did poorly in an important exam in second year which then made me realise that I was going out too much, and that my studies were falling behind as a result.

However, [in my] final year I took everything more seriously and wanted to prove to myself that I was capable. [My] main driver was believing in myself and wanting to be constantly better." 

Business and Management (BA) Graduate

 "After four years studying Business and Management at Durham University, I achieved a First class degree. This has been my ambition and goal since starting A-levels. Where I studied Economics, Business Studies and Religious Studies. During this time I found a love for Business, so decided it was the best option for university. I knew that by studying something I love and find interesting would help me achieve better results. University has been my best life choice, it allowed me to develop academically whilst feeling as though I had accomplished something very well regarded."

Exploring pregnant women's experience of Social Norms and Social Identity.pdf
How did the cultural and social ideas of socialism, as interpreted and assimilated by the tenets of the Harlem Renaissance, contribute to shaping its ideals and practices of social equality in the early to mid-20th cent.pdf
MEng_Thesis_2020.pdf

Psychology (BSc) Graduate

 "A-Levels were very difficult for me. With issues going on personally and at home, I scraped a pass on all three subjects. I ended up taking a gap year and worked to resit my exams only to miss the grades required for my chosen university again. I eventually went to university through clearing but I knew I was very passionate about my chosen subject and had confidence in my academic abilities. 

After a few trials and tribulations including having two kids over the course of my three-year  degree – I graduated with a first class degree in Psychology passing all my modules with flying colours! 

I was then offered a job from my dissertation supervisor and am now pursing a PhD in Psychology with a prestigious Dean's Scholarship. Despite the hardships, I never lost faith in myself and kept fighting for what I wanted to do." 

Politics, Sociology and East European Studies (BA) Graduate

 "Frankly, beginning my research into writing what was to become my undergraduate dissertation was extremely daunting. I had never once written a piece of literature as extended as this, nor had I had to write about an abstract topic in such crucial detail before. Naturally, I trusted that my academic sixth sense would kick in at some point; believing that the idea and the resulting ten thousand words would naturally take shape and mould together. How wrong I was. 

In all honesty, shaping the foundations of my dissertation was as complex as writing it. The process involved a great deal of introspection, thinking to myself, ‘What do I want to write about?’ and more importantly, ‘Why do I want to write about this?’ 

Establishing the foundations involved a lot of outreach: talking to fellow academics, exchanging ideas with a diverse range of people, articulating some of my beliefs, and discovering what came from this. It also involved me physically sitting down with a pen and paper and brainstorming themes, individuals, and moments in time that captured my interests. From there, I began to form links and connections. 

These connections would be cultivated from various broad ideas to slowly become interlinking subsections of my more comprehensive narrative. Wow, even discussing it now brings back fond and not-so-fond memories, shall I say. 

Frankly, dissertation writing at the highest level is the most complex, irritating, thought-provoking and frustrating thing I have done in my academic story thus far (Cambridge Pre-U English Literature is not far behind, though). Still, it is also the most fulfilling, stimulating thing I have done. 

Once you reach peace with your ideas, you put faith into your writing and flex your academic vigour - the process becomes a test against yourself, attempting to challenge your previous thoughts and ideas to reach an unchartered end. Still, the feeling of fulfilment I gained once I had done so, and done so with faith in my writing, is a feeling that I will treasure and remember forever.

Material Sciences (MEng) Graduate

 "My university journey started off with a last-minute change in trajectory, when two weeks out from starting a Mechanical Engineering degree at Imperial College, I decided to decline my place and roll the dice on receiving an offer to study Materials Science. Fast forward a few months and with support from my alma mater, Whitgift, I was fortunate enough to earn a place at Oxford and commenced a four-year degree studying Materials Science.

 Although it was a challenging degree, I thoroughly enjoyed learning through all the different disciplines that pull together and form Materials Science. Unfortunately due to several factors some in my control, some not my third-year finals exams did not go well and I was facing being awarded a much lower grade than I would have liked or expected. This really gave me a strong sense of determination and drive going into my Masters (4th) year. A final year which was to purely consist of research and culminate in the thesis which you see before you. 

Despite COVID cutting my year short, I had thrown myself into the deep end of practical research and loved it. I got a strong sense of accomplishment when experiments were successful and a sense of pride that I was breaking ground in research that no one had done before. 

Ultimately through a lot of hard but enjoyable work I produced a first class worth thesis that was able to bring up my overall grade. The year taught me that my worth and skill set could be defined in many ways, much more than purely written exams could assess. I had performed so well that I was fortunately offered the chance to do a DPhil to further investigate Materials Science, an opportunity I grabbed with both hands and have been enjoying ever since.

NIYA - Final Year Project.pdf

Business Administration (BSc) Graduate