What is a Professional Practice Dissertation?

A professional practice dissertation is a dissertation that has a practical focus and is often used in practice focussed Masters Courses. The aim of it is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate originality in tackling and solving problems taking into account practical considerations, acting autonomously in planning and implementing tasks, whilst advancing your own knowledge and understanding. It is also aimed to develop independent learning and research skills that are required for continuing professional development.

Key considerations

The first thing to consider is what your title will be, it is important to pick a topic that will enable you to adequately consider the subject from a practical perspective and ultimately provide insightful recommendations to practitioners. As a professional practice dissertation is typically in the form of a report its contents should be practically focussed with recommendations that would assist those practising in the field. For this reason you should choose a topic which you think has a reasonable amount of literature and content that you can use for research. You should also consider people who practice in those areas and see what they are writing about in their blogs.

Research your Dissertation

A professional practice dissertation just like any type of dissertation will require extensive research. You should consider a wide range of different types of sources. It is important not to over rely on any one source or type of source.

It is also important that you show familiarity with, and engagement with, the range of academic writing and content that is relevant to your project, as well as contextualising these into a practical context. It is important that you go beyond relying on a small number of textbooks. Crucially you will need to show that you have sought out journal articles, especially from peer reviewed journals. Material published in peer reviewed journals may well be more up to date and more focused than some other sources. Also if the journal is peer reviewed then the article will have been examined by one or two experts anonymously prior to publication, so there is a guarantee of quality.


A professional practice dissertation like other types of dissertations will normally be structured around chapters (or maybe sections), including introductory and concluding chapters. Within chapters headings and even sub-headings may be used. A table of contents, a title page, an abstract page and an acknowledgements page. If there are no University guidelines as to formatting then see if you can obtain a copy of a good quality dissertation example to see how it is set out.

It is also a good idea to use signalling to help the reader understand how the chapters, sections, paragraphs are linked. Thus the beginning of a chapter may refer back to the previous chapter and the overall argument; the end of a chapter might want to refer to the next stage of the argument. Moreover, check each paragraph: Does it link to the next paragraph?


You will usually be expected to include a bibliography. Again each institution may have its own version of how this should be presented. A few matters to bear in mind: Any bibliography should distinguish between primary and secondary sources. Most importantly, make sure you use the citation system precisely and consistently.

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