4 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Topic for Your MA in International Relations Dissertation

Man writing in bookChoosing a dissertation topic can be both exciting and challenging

The majority of master's courses involve the writing of a dissertation. This entails the formulation of a relevant research question which you then seek to answer based on a comprehensive analysis of academic literature and your own research. The success of your dissertation can depend largely on the topic you choose.

Selecting a topic for this important piece of work can be both fun and challenging. The prospect of contributing something new to the field with your research is exciting, but you also need to make sure that you choose a topic that isn't too difficult to tackle. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the right topic for your MA dissertation.

The Breadth of Your Topic Should Be Manageable

One of the most challenging aspects of developing a dissertation topic is finding the optimal focus. While international relations is a very broad field, you will need to develop a research question for your dissertation with a sufficiently narrow focus or you may end up biting off more than you can chew.

You may, for example, be interested in U.S. foreign policy, but on its own this is a broad area. Delving deeper, you may be interested in American Exceptionalism, so a proportionate approach may be taking a look at the relationship between American Exceptionalism and the ratification of international human rights treaties by the United States.

The more focused your topic and resulting research question, the better able you will be to create a feasible research plan and illustrate your argument within the allotted page or word limit. Don't forget that if you're struggling with this step, you can reach out to your dissertation supervisor for help.

Woman looking at laptopMake sure your topic is narrowed down to a manageable size

Find a Topic That Fits in With Your Supervisor's Area of Expertise

Your dissertation supervisor is a great ally in the entire process. They can provide the expertise to help narrow your topic down, suggest possible research approaches, provide you with literature suggestions, help you with forming your research methodology, and more.

For you to be able to capitalise as much as possible from cooperating with your supervisor, it can be wise to choose a topic based on your shared academic interests. Though all supervisors will know how to guide you through the research and writing process, a supervisor with particular expertise related to your chosen topic will be able to share even more valuable insights with you.

Make Sure You Can Answer Your Research Question Feasibly

When choosing your dissertation topic, you should also consider if completing the necessary research will be feasible. Firstly, you need to make sure there is enough academic literature available as a foundation from which to depart, and then that you can actually carry out any field research your topic could possible require.

For example, researching local perceptions of conflict related to the drug war in Mexico may not be possible if you cannot travel to Mexico to conduct in-person interviews. In such a case, you may need to choose or approach your topic differently.

Herein lies a big benefit of doing an online masters in international relations though, because it offers you the flexibility to study and write from anywhere in the world. Therefore, you are also freer to conduct research from wherever you need to.

Start Early on in Your MA in International Relations

One of the best things you can do when choosing your dissertation topic is to start developing it early. This way you will have a better idea of what you might want to tackle when the actual time to submit your topic is around the corner.

Throughout your MA in International Relations, jot down the areas of the field you find most interesting, related literature you may come across, and theoretical approaches you enjoy. This preparation will leave you better prepared to get down to researching and writing when the time comes.

Notepad and pencilKeep note of your interests so you'll be better prepared to choose your topic

Are you looking for a quality international relations university?

Contact Queen Mary Online to inquire about our international relations MA degree.

Topics: MA international relations, masters degree in international relations, Masters in International Relations, online international relations PGDip, study international relations online

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