If your dissertation is like most, it will only be read by your committee and some other . candidates seeking to build on your work. As such, it does not need to be a masterwork of literature, nor does it need to solve a long-standing problem in computing. It merely needs to be correct, to be significant in the judgement of your committee, and it needs to be complete. We will all applaud when you change the world after graduation. And at that you will find that many well-known scientists in CS have made their careers in areas different from their dissertation topic. The dissertation is proof that you can find and present original results; your career and life after graduation will demonstrate the other concerns you might have about making an impact.
If you are taking a dissertation over two semesters, you should aim to spend the equivalent of one full half-day per week working on your dissertation during each semester of your final year if it is worth 20 credits - nearer twice that amount of time if it is a 40-credit dissertation.
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1610s, "discussion, debate," from Latin dissertationem (nominative dissertatio ) "discourse," noun of action from past participle stem of dissertare "debate, argue, examine, harangue," frequentative of disserere "discuss, examine," from dis- "apart" (see dis- ) + serere "to arrange words" (see series ). Sense of "formal, written treatise" is 1650s.
In France, the academic dissertation or thesis is called a thèse and it is reserved for the final work of doctoral candidates. The minimum page length is generally (and not formally) 100 pages (or about 400,000 characters), but is usually several times longer (except for technical theses and for "exact sciences" such as physics and maths).
By the end of STEP ONE: Research paradigm , you should be able to state , describe and justify the research paradigm underpinning your dissertation (., typically a positivist or post-positivist research paradigm), and if using a philosophical justification for your choice of route, and approach within that route, explain your philosophical justification.