Lit Based Dissertation Topics

Your dissertation provides you with the opportunity to write a substantial piece of academic work on a topic of interest to you.  It is your chance to produce a work of scholarship, using the academic skills you have developed.  Regardless of topic, your dissertation will demonstrate the following skills:

  • defining and outlining a research topic
  • establishing a clear research question
  • identifying the salient issues
  • finding or generating the relevant information
  • evaluating its reliability and validity
  • weighing up the evidence on all sides of a debate
  • arriving at a well-argued conclusion
  • organising and presenting the results of your work critically, cogently, and coherently.

There are two major forms of dissertation:

  • A piece of empirical research, conducted on a topic or issue.
  • A literature-based long essay providing an analysis of a specific research question.


An Empirical Dissertation

This type of dissertation involves carrying out a piece of original research on a small scale. It entails planning a research study, collecting and analysing primary data, and presenting the results in a systematic way.

The Key Stages in Producing an Empirical Study

1. Identify a research topic within the scope of the project

2. Refine the project title and formulate your own research question. This will be by:

  • reading on the topic to see what aspects have been researched;
  • your observation of details of the topic in any work experience;
  • reflections on this experience;
  • and discussions with tutors and fellow students.

3. Determine the best research format so as to better understand the area/issue in question. This will be formed by:

  • research methodologies and research methods that others have tried. This will be discovered by reading in the substantive area and focusing on how others have researched the topic;
  • the nature of your topic area and what research methods are possible.


4. Formulate a research proposal within the scope of the project

5. Identify and select the location(s) where you will conduct the research, and your target group(s).

6. Consider carefully alternative groups/places you could approach in case permission is denied. Start at this stage to avoid panicking and making inappropriate choices.

7. Seek permission to access the places and groups.

8. Develop research tools and test these.

9. Further reading.

10. Refine your research tools.

11. Collect and analyse your data.

12. Review earlier reading and evaluate other research and conceptualisations in light of the data you have gathered.

13. Throughout the process, record the research progress and critical points in a research diary. This can be quite brief, but will be valuable when you write up your work.

14. As the writing process gets underway, you will need to:

  • draft outlines, synopses and chapters of the dissertation & discuss these with your supervisor and others;
  • discuss your findings and developing concepts with your supervisor and others;
  • work with the supervisor‟s and others‟ feedback to develop and refine the draft.

Empirical Dissertation Sample. Click Here


A-Library Based Dissertation

A library-based dissertation is probably best distinguished from an empirical study by regarding it as a piece of scholarship in which the work of others is placed under close scrutiny, rather than the gathering of new, primary data directly from observation or measurement. The data of a library-based study is the work of others. However, it is potentially highly valuable and important work, especially if you wish to conduct an in-depth study of an area and review the implications for your own professional concerns.

It is not the simply the describing of work that has been carried out in an area, although this will be part of the task. Library-based studies must contain research questions that are as carefully developed as any other type of study. The work can then be placed in a defined context and a critical judgment of the work can be made regarding its value, quality and contribution to theory and practical application. You also must consider the research methods used by the original researchers and evaluate these. You may also make judgments about the validity of the results in the context of your own professional practice.

The Key Stages in a Library-Based Study

1. Identify a research topic within the scope of the project.

2. Refine the project title and formulate your own research question. As with all dissertations you must have a clear question for which you wish to find answers. This will form the basis of the contract with your supervisor.

3. Clearly identify, discuss and clarify the key concepts being investigated. To do this you must read on your topic, advised initially by your supervisor.

4. Formulate a research proposal within the scope of the project. This may take several days.

5. Review the evidence available. This will include:

  • constructing sets of criteria against which to judge the materials reviewed. (at this point you should discuss your criteria with your supervisor);
  • a detailed literature review of the relevant books and journal articles. Note that this can also include other relevant materials, e.g. company or government reports, market research, newspaper articles, etc.

6. Sum up. This may be an overall analysis of statistical studies or some other analysis of the total evidence available.

7. Discuss how the literature survey answers the questions that you are exploring. Weigh up the pros and cons.

8. Make recommendations for further research studies, or draw out implications for practice.


It is important that a study sort adds additional material to the data that is being discussed, such as providing a summary of the weight of evidence for and against a particular position or theory, identifying key gaps in knowledge, or providing a new perspective from which to view an issue.  A  library based study can provide an excellent opportunity to consider how research done in a range of contexts relates to your own eventual work context.

Library Based Dissertation Sample Click Here


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For an individual, it is always easy to discuss other people’s ideas rather than their own. A literature dissertation is based on the premise of aiming to contextualize themes, ideas and interests that have grabbed the reader’s interest and going into their deeper meaning through the movement of time within and outside cultures. Literature encompasses the ideas and thoughts of writers ranging from topics on philosophy, religious preferences, sociology, academics and psychology. A writer is able to write on any topic, but in order make a written piece unique it is imperative to choose a topic which not only interests but also challenges the writer to go beyond the realms set before him. In order to provide some guidance in choosing your dissertation topic for the literature and language, you will find a list of topics that have been picked up from the seventeenth till the twentieth century including literature available for children, which can be consulted for reading purposes.

Literature Dissertation Topics for 2018

Impact of digital media on reflecting modern English literature

Purpose: Digital media has been emerging as well as accompanying the announcements on its effects on literature. However, digital media has been threatening of book culture heralding the emergence of serious English literature. The purpose of this research is to find the impact of digital media on reflecting modern English literature.

 A critical analysis of how homosexuality has been portrayed in modern literature: A comparative analysis of 19th and 20th century literature

Purpose: 20th century is being regarded as the century of openness and societal understanding of homosexuality. Before, 20th century the discussions about the phenomenon has not been common in literature but in 20th century the number of novels on gay characters and theme appeared in the domain of art or mainstream literature. The main purpose of this study is to critically analyse how homosexuality has been portrayed in modern literature in 19th and 20th century.

Critical analysis of the work of Ruskin Bond and how it has contributed towards modern English literature

Purpose: Ruskin Bond is regarded as a famous icon amongst children’s authors and Indian writers. In 1999 he was also awarded with the Padma Shri for his major contributions to literature related to children. The purpose of this research is to critically analyse the work of Ruskin Bond and how it has contributed towards modern English literature.

Analysing the modern representation of power, ideology and women in dynasty China

Purpose: China’s past is regarded as critical while understanding about the role of women. In imperial China, women were considered as relatively inferior position than men. However, after 1949 it has been changed dramatically as women started to appear at China’s front. The main purpose of this study is to analyse the modern representation of power, ideology and women in dynasty China 

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Seventeenth and Eighteenth century Literature Dissertation Topics

Within the seventeenth and eighteenth century the writers based most of their writing around the social and political changes that they were experiencing. Writers were involved in the use of metaphors through two particular types of writing- circumstance and satire. Furthermore, they applied imagery and theological themes to highlight or discuss the controversial aspects of the society. The following are a few ideas that may be used for your dissertation:

  • Comparative analysis of work done by Milton and the bible.
  • Redemption issues highlighted in the Paradise lost and the Fall from Greece.
  • Poetical imagination of William Wordsworth through an analysis of his perception of nature.
  • The role of witches within the play Macbeth and impact on the play itself.
  • The significance of the phrase, All’s well that ends well.
  • A comparison of the current political society and the plot of plays by Shakespeare regarding treachery.
  • Critical analysis of the poetry by John Donne through an appraisal of loss, love and imagination.
  • Development of the characters of Romeo and Juliet within the play.
  • The role of Lady MacBeth within the first and second half of the script: A critical analysis.
  • Where does the origin of novels begin?

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Nineteenth Century Dissertation Topics

Industrialization and urban landscaping gained momentum within the nineteenth century, and writers used this opportunity to dwell on the loss they experienced in the ways of traditional lifestyle. There was seen a change within the society in terms of ideals, morality and religion which has the greatest positive and negative impact on the rural economies globally. Literature in this era therefore aimed at compensating the lost meaning of association which was exemplified with the publishing of Origin of Species by Darwin. Darwin in his writing illustrated the evolution of human mankind from apes and the history of earth which became a very threatening concept for the Victorians. The literature within the nineteenth century highlighted the religious discomfort, the alienation and insignificance felt by the society while answering questions that came forth through scientific discovery. The following are a few ideas that can be used for your literature dissertation:

  • Gender representation within gothic novels. Critical analysis.
  • George Elliot highlighted religious doubts in his literature. Analyse its impact on the 19th century society.
  • Critically appraise and analyse the inspirations of Richard Jefferies.
  • What impact has been felt following the works of Ruskin Bond within the world of literature?
  • Dickens and the use of costumes in his work.
  • Gaskell and the evolution of the Victorian family.
  • Literature and politics: Inter related influence.
  • Elizabeth Barret on love and communication through the use of her poems.
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Twentieth Century Dissertation Topics

Within this century the literature experienced an evolution whereby the poetic themes were as communicative as literature in novels. With the occurrence of the world war one and two, the society was in the midst of modernization and wanted to break away from the restrictions that had been imposed during the Victorian era. Throughout the nineteen fifties, the literature evolved to look into human connection and aimed at understanding the behavioural and emotional responses of the humans. The following are a list of topics that can be used for your literature dissertation and include diary writing and psychoanalysis.

  • Robert Louis Stevenson and work on fantasy and magic.
  • Modernism and the work of Freud.
  • Virginia Woolf and the use of water imagery.
  • Twentieth century novels and visionary closure.
  • The poetic stance on war by Ivory Gurney.
  • The work of Joyce in the twentieth century.
  • Poetic Syntax in the works of W. H Auden.
  • Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes: A comparative analysis.
  • Sylvia Path and the manifestation of tragedy.
  • Ian McEwan on identity and character.
  • India through the words of Kipling.
  • The use of space and time within the works of Time Machine and Island of Dr. Moreau.
  • S Elliot on finding more within the Wasteland.

Not Sure Which Dissertation Topic to Choose?


Also Read: Free Law Dissertation Topics

Interdisciplinary Subjects

Interdisciplinary research dissertation allows the researcher to analyse literature in its form of correlation between various other disciplines such as philosophy, politics, religion and the society. In order to sufficiently conduct interdisciplinary research, the researcher needs to go beyond contextualizing literature with another discipline and also examine the various benefits and downside to studying other disciplines within the realm of literature. These suggestions have been incorporated in the following list of topics, prepared to provide guidance:

  • Evolutionary narrative in the work of Darwin.
  • The evolution of political scenarios throughout the various centuries.
  • Thomas Hardy and the use of architecture.
  • Modern literature and psychology.
  • Modern literature and its historic evolution.
  • Poetic imagination coupled with astronomy within the nineteenth and twentieth century.
  • The inter relationship between archaeology and the English literature.
  • Relationship between literature and philosophy.
  • Seeking self through psychology within the modern literature.

Literature, Identity and Place Dissertation Topics

Thematic approaches applying identity and place have been apparent throughout the history of literature. The writers not only used landscapes as a source of inspiration but to contextualize and also identify the various characters. Inner feelings of the characters were exemplified through their interaction with the landscape. The writers have aimed at describing identity as a sub product of the environment, the landscape and the association with the culture around. A dissertation within this theme not only offers efficiency for future research but also provides an adaptable and an accessible topic for research as incorporated in the list of ideas and suggestions below:

  • The disconnect between the rural and urban landscapes. Post 1900.
  • Twentieth century travel diaries.
  • Contextualizing place within the poetic semantics of the nineteenth century.
  • Symbolic importance of mountains.
  • Colonial literature: interrelationship between identity and place.
  • Symbolic importance of the sea in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Thomas Hardy and his appraisal of Cornish landscapes.
  • The use of beaches in the literature post 1900.
  • The narrative landscape of The Lake District in poems.
  • Verses and narration since 1940.
  • The living landscapes of the city post 1900.
  • The narration of sea in the works of Dylan Thomas.
  • Lyne Regis in the words of John Fowles.
  • Yorkshire Moors- relation with Ted Hughes.
  • The use of Wealden forest in the literature since the year 1800.

Also Read: HRM Dissertation Topics Free

Children’s Literature Dissertation Topics

Written literature for children encompasses the use of imagination, narration humour as well sensitivity to the traditions. Therefore, the writers for children’s literature apply complex themes coupled with imagery which may be interpreted by children and adults both on different levels of understanding. In choosing a topic of research for a children’s literature dissertation it is important for the researcher to pick out a specific age group so that not only generalizations can be avoided but it will also help the researcher in highlighting the academic competencies of various age groups of children. The themes present within the children’s literature are concurrent and have been repeated throughout the history. The following provides some guidance into the topics that can be used for children’s language dissertation.

  • The adventures through the eyes of Enid Blyton.
  • Historical evolution of the Children’s Literature.
  • Child Literature in the Victorian era.
  • The importance of humour and wit in Children’s literature.
  • What may be interesting to read for children under five year old?
  • Illustration in the work of Beatrix Potter.
  • The sublime work of Road Dahl.
  • Utopia and idealism in Children’s storybooks.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson on discovering wonder land. A critical appraisal.
  • The works of J.K Rowling and Tolkien. An illustration of beasts.
  • Psychology through the use of Children’s books.
  • Animals and their significance in the books on Children’s literature.

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