The (free) course to get you started

Take the first step towards crafting a high-quality dissertation, thesis or research project with our free mini-course.

100% free – no costs, no signup or email required
– Easy to understand explanations and examples
– Extensive video, audio and text-based content
– Free downloadable templates and tools

Everything you need to get started.

This flexible mini-course is built from a carefully curated selection of our best video and text content. Working through the course content, you’ll learn:

  1. How to find a high-quality research topic
  2. How to develop a convincing research proposal
  3. How to craft a high-quality introduction and literature review
  4. How to choose a suitable methodology and present your results
  5. How to polish your dissertation or thesis for the highest marks

You can start wherever makes sense for you, and you can work at your own pace. While you will get the maximum benefit from working through all the content in order, you’re welcome to skip around.

If you have any suggestions, please let us know. If you’d like 1-on-1 support with your research project, have a look at our private research coaching service here.

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If you’re completely new to research, start at 1. If you’ve already got some understanding, jump ahead to whichever topic you’re struggling with.

Part 1: Topic Ideation & Proposal

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1. Dissertation 101: What you need to know

Learn about the ABCs of academic research and how the core research process comes to life in a dissertation or thesis.

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2. How to find a high-quality research topic
Learn how to look for, identify and evaluation research topic ideas that are both unique and important, so that your topic has the best chance of first-time approval.

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3. Research proposal 101: What you need to know
Learn about the ABCs of the research proposal – what it is, what essential ingredients it needs to include, how long it needs to be and how to structure it correctly.

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4. How to write a research proposal
Learn how to craft a high-quality research proposal, step by step in this video & blog post combo. We explain each section using plain language and clear examples.

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5. Common mistakes in the research proposal
In this video and post combo, Derek and David discuss 8 common mistakes that tend to come up in the research proposal, so that you can avoid these common pitfalls.

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6. Research proposal template (Download)
Download our free MS Word template to help you get started with your dissertation or thesis research proposal.

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Part 2: Starting Your Dissertation Or Thesis

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1. How to structure your dissertation or thesis
Before you start crafting your dissertation, you need to have a clear structural outline. Learn how to structure your document according to best practice and academic norms.

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2. Introduction chapter 101 – Why, what and how
The introduction chapter is one of the most important chapters in your dissertation or thesis, as it sets the scene and draws the reader in. Learn the ABCs of this chapter here.

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3. Common mistakes in the introduction chapter
In this video, David and Alexandra discuss 7 common mistakes that students make when crafting their introduction chapters.

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4. Dissertation/thesis template (Download)
Download our free dissertation/thesis template to help you get started.

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Part 3: The Literature Review

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1. Literature review 101: What you need to know
Start your literature review journey here. We explain what a literature review is, what the purpose of the chapter is, how to find quality literature and how to structure the chapter.

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2. How to write a literature review: big-picture process
Learn how to find and review high-quality existing literature, how to catalogue that into a well-organised collection, and how to write up the literature review chapter.

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3. How to review journal articles efficiently

Learn how to fast-track your review process by focusing exclusively on a few important sections of each journal article your encounter.

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4. Literature review Excel template (Download)
Download Grad Coach’s literature review Excel template to help you catalogue your literature sources in a well-organised and easily manageable way.

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5. How to structure the literature review chapter
Learn about the most common ways in which literature review chapters are structured, so that you can choose a suitable structure for your own dissertation or thesis.

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6. Common mistakes in the literature review

Derek and David discuss 7 common mistakes that students run into in the literature review chapter so that you can avoid these mark-destroying pitfalls.

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Part 4: Research Design & Methodology

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1. Research methodology 101: What you need to know
Get a big-picture view of research methodology and research design with this video blog post combo.

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2. Qualitative vs quantitative research

Learn about the core differences between qualitative and quantitative research, data and analysis methods.

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3. How to choose a research methodology
Learn how to make well-informed decisions regarding your research methodology and overall research design by considering 3 important factors.

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4. Saunder's research onion: Overview
Learn about the various research design choices you’ll need to make, from the research philosophy, all the way down to the specific data analysis techniques.

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5. Qualitative data analysis methods 101
Learn about the 6 most commonly used qualitative data analysis methods in this video blog post combo.

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6. Quantitative data analysis methods 101
Learn about the basics of quantitative data analysis, including descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

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7. How to write the methodology chapter
Learn how to structure your research methodology chapter for maximum impact, covering all the key research design choices.

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8. Common mistakes in the methodology chapter

David and Alexandra discuss 6 common but costly mistakes students make when it comes to the methodology chapter, and the methodology in general.

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Part 5: Results & Discussion

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1. The results chapter: Qualitative
In this video blog post combo, we explain the ABCs of the results chapter for qualitative studies – what it is, why it’s important and how to write it up.

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2. The results chapter: Quantitative
In this video blog post combo, we explain the ABCs of the results chapter for quantitative studies – what it is, why it’s important and how to write it up.

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3. Common mistakes in the results chapter

In this video, David and Alexandra unpack 7 costly mistakes that are commonly made in the results chapter.

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4. The discussion chapter 101: What, why & how
In this video blog post combo, we explain the ABCs of the discussion chapter – what it is, why it’s important and how to write it up.

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5. Common mistakes in the discussion chapter

In this video, David and Ruth look at 7 mistakes that students commonly make when writing up their discussion chapter.

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Part 6: Wrapping Up

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1. The conclusion chapter 101: What, why and how
Learn about the ins and outs of the final chapter in your dissertation or thesis – the conclusion chapter. We explain what it is, what goes into it and how to write it up.

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2. Common mistakes in the conclusion chapter
In this video, David and Ruth discuss some of the most common mistakes students make when crafting their final chapter.

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3. The abstract 101: What, why and how
Learn all about what makes a strong abstract in a dissertation or thesis. We talk you through the process, step by step.

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4. Defending your dissertation or thesis

In this video, Derek and David discuss 13 common questions that come up in dissertation and thesis oral defences, so that you can prepare for your own.

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5. Defending your dissertation or thesis
In this video, David and Ruth discuss 7 of the most commonly made mistakes in terms of referencing and share loads of useful resources to make referencing your sources a little easier.

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6. Referencing: Mendeley & Zotero

Learn how to use two popular pieces of reference management software, Mendeley and Zotero

How to use Mendeley

How to use Zotero

Part 7: General tips & tools

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Essential apps for the research journey

Learn about 8 useful apps, services and pieces of software that can help you move through the research process efficiently.

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Descriptive vs analytical writing
Learn about the difference between writing that earns marks (analytical) and writing that doesn’t (description), so that you can optimise your content for maximum impact.

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How to reduce word count

Learn how to trim down excessive word count in your dissertation or thesis without sacrificing a large portion of marks.

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How to craft strong arguments in your dissertation
Learn about the core components of a strong argument, so that you can craft impactful, sound arguments in your dissertation or thesis.

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How to choose the right charts and graphs
Learn how to select the right charts and graphs for various types of data, so that you can present the most appropriate figures in your research.

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Academic misconduct
Learn about the various forms of academic misconduct, so that you can avoid unintentionally crossing a boundary and getting yourself in hot water.

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Dissertation vs thesis
How to avoid academic misconduct

Why you should never use a writing service

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If there’s something you’re looking for that’s not covered in the course material, check out the Grad Coach blog for more free content.

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