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Differences between Coursework and Dissertations: Comparative Analysis

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction:
  2. Coursework:
  3. Dissertations:
  4. Benefits of Coursework and dissertations
  5. Differences between Coursework and dissertations:
  6. Planning and process while writing coursework and dissertations:
  7. Challenges and problems student faces while doing dissertations and coursework
  8. Conclusion:
  9. References:


Both Coursework and dissertation are two important aspects that are used in the academic field for the completion of the academic qualifications. Both of them are used to evaluate the student’s or learner’s knowledge, skills and identify their academic progression and grades. Basically, In the academic level usually students have the choice to complete course either by Coursework or dissertations. In most of the universities or colleges students are given choice to complete degree either by coursework or dissertation and thesis


Coursework is a task assigned to students for the fulfillment of their academic requirements. As per the Oxford Dictionary coursework is “Written or practical work done by a student during a course of study usually assessed in order to count towards a final mark or grade.”

Some of the Examples of coursework are: folios of essays, art and craft items, speaking test, practical works, experiments or assignments and etc. [sources: planningtak]

Coursework are effective to Student because of various reasons:

  • A well-designed Coursework help teacher to evaluate the learning capabilities and work done by the students.
  • It helps students to understand their work and show their capabilities and what they learn from the specific module.
  • It is an effective way to knowledge sharing way as it helps both of teacher and students to understand the specific module in a theoretical and practical way.

Figure 1: Coursework


A dissertation, sometimes called ‘final year project’ or ‘thesis’ is a long piece of work i.e. research project done at the end times of Undergraduate or post-graduate studies or upper one. According to oxford learners dictionaries dissertation is “a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one written for a university degree”.

It is such type of work process where student chooses the subject in which they want to research and comes to a specific conclusion at the end of it. It is research on their own ideology and concept or in others' work expanding or augmenting others ideas.

Figure 2: Dissertations

Figure 3:Similarities between Coursework and dissertations

However, coursework and dissertations, both are different but, in some case, they have some common elements. Both of them are used in the academic field for the completion of degree. Dissertations are done under the supervision of lecturers or professors and frequent review from teachers can be taken if students want which also needed for coursework if the professor wants. Coursework and dissertation play vital role for the marking and assessment of students for their modules and degree. Both of the them are used to find the capabilities of students and the work they have done based on their works. Grading or marks will be given according to task done in coursework and dissertations.

Benefits of Coursework and dissertations

In coursework, it helps students to understand their work and show their capabilities and what they learn from the specific module. According to “QCA Survey” reports out of 700 teachers 29 % percent teachers thinks Coursework can give a student more experience and helps them to gain skills in particular subject and areas while 25 % think that it make student to learn dept in one particular subject and 23 % percent teacher belief that it is easy to assessed student and is less stressful that 100 % marks exam at final of the year.

From the Research Study Conducted for the “Qualification and Curriculum Authority” from more than 700 subject head about the benefits of coursework on students. [Sources: QCA Survey]

Figure 4:QCA Survey done from over 700 subject heads [sources: QCA]

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Coursework helps students to gain more experience and help them to build their skills in the specific subject. It also encourages independent learning. It will help students to work at their own pace as well motivating students. One of the mains benefits is that it will help students to learn the curriculum step by step over the years. Research and investigation skills will be developed and might be main asset for students. It also allows student to select the area of their own interest. It will provide less stress than having 100 % of the marks assessed by an exam at the end of the academic year. It also gives an opportunity for students to earn higher grade. It also removes the burden or relieves of exam pressure. It supports the pupils who have lower abilities. It also allows for redraft [Sources: QCA].

Figure 5:Benefits of Dissertation

In the other hand, dissertations had many significance and benefits. Student can present their research to others or people. Students need a detail with minimum 35 to 100 references in context of student chosen research project [Sources: educationandtrainingissues]. So, students will need to collect, read and analyze the facts and information for supporting their research project. It will show and improves the critical and analyzing thinking of students [Sources: educationandtrainingissues]. The main advantages and challenges of doing dissertations is that it will enhance and boost a wide range of skills, including project planning, project management, market analysis, swot analysis, time management, and possibly, skills to communicate with managers or customers in a real skills business world which student may develop through field worlds interviews, data collections and etc.[sources: Manchester Business School]. Student will obtain good knowledge is specialized areas. It will be demonstrated to students to show and develop their skills, abilities through clear and well-arguments, well-focused literature review, rigorous methods, in-depth analysis etc [sources: Manchester Business School]. Dissertation writing will help students to get better grades in academic writing [sources: all assignment help ].

Differences between Coursework and dissertations:

Figure 6:Differences 1

Figure 7: Differences 2

Figure 8: Differences 3

In most of the universities, colleges and institutions students have choices to complete their study either from coursework or dissertations and thesis. However, coursework and dissertation are used for measuring and completing of academic progress of students of certain level and degree, but there is a distinctive difference on both. Coursework is a short written or practical fixed task assigned by teacher or professor while a dissertation is a long piece of work that students have chosen by themselves as per their interest with no restriction on it until it breaks ethic to certain society, law, areas or etc. However, a professor might give a basic format for dissertations. Coursework is given with certain limitations, format and guidelines or even titles or questions but the dissertation has no limitations like coursework. Coursework answers is around certain areas or even exact to the teacher expected whereas a dissertation does not have exact findings or answers as dissertations is more unique and creative as compared to coursework. Coursework given by teacher will be given by relating specific module like Android, Api and etc. (Sources: softwarica college) as can vee seen in sample in below while dissertation depends upon student will or interest. Coursework does not require dept research and study due to its fixed requirement and format while a dissertation needed a lot of time. Students need to study books, articles and documents related to chosen topic of dissertations [sources: all assignment help]. Coursework boosts the skills relating to a specific area or module and acts as help for a dissertation in main project while dissertations may be done with the skills got from coursework

Planning and process while writing coursework and dissertations:

Doing coursework is a bit challenging task. Basically, there are specific steps that needed to follow while doing coursework effectively and efficiently. Coursework topic or questions initializing and then Discussing the topic or questions with the professor if required and later student Make a plan for the paper. Then students will Select the research method for the coursework. Then, the student will search for information for the coursework relating to its prescribed area or questions then, the student will create an outline and later draft a document and finalize the document by Proofreading and editing. [Sources: myassignmentwriting]. All this process needed to be followed b revolving around requirements and guidelines given by the teachers or professors. survey, collecting data, pilot studies, dealing with the problems with solutions, and preparing a final report. [Sources:]

Figure 9:Coursework process

While In the case of dissertations the case is totally different as it required proper research and documentation along with times the investment and data collection etc. The basic step and processes that needed to be followed are: Choosing an topic and preparing and proper proposal and getting its approval, After preparing research questions, creating a research plan, procrastination, realistic planning, being organized and methodological while conducting the research, undertaking the literature survey, collecting data, pilot studies, dealing with the problems with solution, preparing an final report.[Sources: myassignmentwriting]

Figure 10:Dissertation process

Challenges and problems student faces while doing dissertations and coursework

It’s not that while doing coursework and dissertation student does not face any challenges or problems, they have. Dissertation is a new challenge for student as they have never done this type of work before in the case of undergraduate. Getting access to data is another big challenge. As the dissertation will have fixed date of submission, so time pressure is also one of the main challenges. As, students choose their desired dissertation topic so learning the new skills and technique is also challenging. There might need a money for buying some items like: licenses for software, api’s and others, so financial status is also one of the challenges [Sources 12]. Choosing titles, and format and documentation is also one of the challenges. [Sources: urbangeekz]. Producing an appropriate quality of writing within the literature review is also challenging [sources: dissertation. laerd].

In another hand, doing the course is also a complicated task. Many challenges that student faces while doing dissertation, same challenges arises while doing Coursework. Time management issues, lack of information, lack of support, external issues & etc. are main challenges [Sources: ]. The student needed to follow the guidelines, restrictions, format and other criteria as prescribed, to do coursework around it is main challenge that student face as marking and grading is done according to it.


However, Coursework and dissertation has its own distinctive benefit and drawbacks but it plays important role in the academic field for the assessment of students. Coursework is designed for measuring the skills related to specific modules or areas while the dissertation will be based on research what students interests. Students need to do coursework according to specific format and criteria, in the other hand, there is no specific format for dissertations. Students need to invest lots of time in research, data collection, and finding information relevant to the topic along with certain planning while doing coursework there is no need for that as it has predefined questions, titles or task. A student might face many challenges but they need to tackle while doing by following the mentioned process both which will develop their skills, analysis, and creativity of students.


  1. Coursework | Definition Of Coursework By Lexico (2019) available from [1 October 2019]
  2. Complete Guide To Coursework? | Definition, Meaning, Keypoints & Tips! (2019) available from [17 October 2019]
  3. Dissertation Noun - Definition, Pictures, Pronunciation And Usage Notes | Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary At Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.Com (2019) available from [2 October 2019]
  4. Teachers’ Views On GCSE Coursework (2006) QCA. available from [4 October 2019]
  5. Teachers’ Views On GCSE Coursework (2019) Qualification and Curriculum Authority. available from [4 October 2019]
  6. Advantages Of Dissertation Writing In The Academics | Allassignmenthelp.Com (2019) available from [24 September 2019]
  7. Characteristics Of A Dissertation (2019) available from [4 October 2019]
  8. Why Should I Do A Dissertation In My Final Year At MBS (2019) MANCHESTER BUSINESS SCHOO. available from [1 October 2019]
  9. Coursework Writing Is Easy If You Do It Right! | Australian Assignment Help (2019) available from [10 October 2019]
  10. Planning And Conducting A Dissertation Research Project — University Of Leicester (2019) available from [24 October 2019]
  11. Softwarica College Of IT And E-Commerce: Log In To The Site (2019) available from [5 October 2019]
  12. Acknowledgments | Lærd Dissertation (2019) available from [26 September 2019]
  13. Staff, U. (2019) Main Problems Encountered When Writing A Dissertation [online] available from [29 September 2019]
  14. Problems You Face As You Work On Your Dissertation (2019) available from [1 October 2019]
  15. How To Deal With Difficult Coursework | Essay Service - Fast And Cheap Online Writing - Wizessay.Com (2019) available from [1 October 2019]
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