Dissertations are these things that you have to do to get a degree. But unlike the other things you have to do to get a degree – going to lectures, reading books, taking a wider interest in your subject – there is no way of getting out of them.
Most people spend about nine months panicking about what their dissertation is going to be about, then two weeks frantically reading for it, before staying awake for a final three nights to write it up. After that, you pretty much block it out of your memory forever.
With that in mind, we approached some people on the street to ask them if they could remember anything about their dissertations.
VICE: What did you study?
Terence: Furniture and Product Design, a very long time ago. I graduated in 1996.
Do you remember what your dissertation title was?
Uh, it was something... it was completely not about design at all, actually; it was about 80s British soul music or something random like that.
What was your central thesis?
It was a little bit about club culture at that particular time, and the historical waves of British soul music from the 70s up until the 90s, because it was actually quite a good time for music, and so I compared that with the States.
Yeah, but what was the overall argument?
Um... cool music!
Do you remember what mark you got for it?
Yeah, I think I got a 2:2.
What did you do at university?
Mariana: I studied Psychology four years ago.
Do you remember much about your dissertation?
Fuck. Um... it was something like the transfer of knowledge from implicit to explicit memory.
Explain what that means without googling it.
So, it's kind of like subliminal stuff – so how you can learn things implicitly. There's different stimuli you can pick up, so it was about how that can then translate to things you actually start applying explicitly.
Nope, still don't understand.
Okay, so you know when you're playing with something and you see, maybe, a red toy, and you learn how that red toy fits into a building block, or how you stack it up, and then later on you're playing with something else, and maybe the toy isn't red, but... wait, actually, this doesn't make any sense.
Yeah, let's say later on you're playing with something else and you're attracted to the red toy for some reason, and you kind of try and focus on the red toy. This isn't clear at all! Sorry.
Seems like you could do with some help with your explicit memory. Do you remember what you got for it?
I got 73 percent.
Yeah, I'm proud of that.
What was your degree?
Chris: I studied Politics and Economics. I think I graduated in 2009, but it's been a while so I honestly can't remember...
What did you write your dissertation on?
Uh, I don't know the exact title because it had loads of words in it, but it was... actually, I've really forgotten it. It was about technology in Africa, I think, mostly looking at Ghana and comparing it to other places which are quite backwards.
What point were you trying to make?
I was just relating it to South Korea's growth with the Pearl River or whatever it was called, and relating it to Ghana and how that could be the next feasible country for it to happen with Africa, and looking at some of the economic and political problems in a few different areas and judging them.
How did that go?
I got a 2:2.
What were you all about at university?
Samantha: I studied Management Marketing a long time ago. I graduated in 2003. I was really into my dissertation, though; it was on the representation of women in the media on magazine covers.
Why did you choose that?
I wanted to do, like, a visual kind of discussion or exploration of how women have been presented on different magazine covers over the years, and what's changed over time, especially looking at black women, ethnic minorities and the slow growth of that.
Okay, so in a sentence...
I wanted to look at beautiful pictures of beautiful women on magazine covers.
Were you rewarded for that?
I got a 2:1.
What did you study?
Reece: My course was on Media Studies. This was only last year; I graduated in 2015.
What was your dissertation title?
It was on the representation of women in TV in the 1980s.
That's very similar to what the last person I spoke to did. Why did you pick that?
Just because I'd studied sociology in the past and I like studying inequality
Could you explain your dissertation in terms I would understand?
I would say that my dissertation shows a contrast between men and women, and a progressive trend for ladies, really.
What grade did you get for it in the end?
I ended up with a 2:2. It wasn't that great, but the thing is with uni, you don't learn initiative or common sense there, so it's all about applying yourself in real life.
If only someone had told me that then.
University is only a moment in time and it passes eventually. It'll all work out in the end.
What did you study at uni?
Ana: Business Administration, about six years ago.
What was your dissertation title?
I chose to do it on events management.
But what was it actually about?
It was about promoting events in the club scene in Romania, which is where I'm from. It was about getting money from sponsors and stuff like that.
Did you do alright in the end?
Yeah, I think I got a 2:1 or something.
Great! Thanks, Ana.
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