Final Degree Project (FDP): The Beginning of the End

@Edgardo Schiena

No matter the students’ emotions, they all must face one last challenge before they can say it is over: the Final Degree Project.

The last year of a bachelor’s program is the end of a great adventure. Many students face it with joy, eager to start their professional careers, while others find it hard to say goodbye to their college life. No matter the students’ emotions, they all must face one last challenge before they can say it is over: the Final Degree Project.

As for myself, I am a fourth-year Bachelor of Communication student and have recently completed and presented my Final Degree Project. As much as this project has been a challenge, it has also provided me with the opportunity to learn what it takes to write a long paper. The experience has been really fulfilling!

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The Final Degree Project gives students the possibility to put the conceptual, practical, and academic skills acquired throughout the bachelor into practice. It is divided into two different formats: a written project and an oral presentation. Both parts of the project present different requirements that the student has to follow depending on the program; for this reason I recommend that every student read the syllabus carefully before starting the project. Despite this, there are certain tips and recommendations that every student can follow to make things easier.

 

1) Start thinking about your final project in your third year.

The FDP is a long-term project that will take up a lot of your fourth year. It is best if you start thinking and planning out your FDP towards the end of your third year to give you more time to develop your ideas and follow each requirement correctly.

2) Base your research question on something that you are passionate about.

The main objective of the final project is to answer a specific research question. In order to make the process less painful, base your research question on something that you are really passionate about; something that pushes you to expand your knowledge on the topic. Writing a final project can be fun if you make it fun!

3) Stay in touch with your advisor.

Before starting your project, you have to choose an advisor. Your advisor will be your guide throughout your entire project. They will closely follow your progress to ensure you meet all of the requirements and help you with any questions you may have throughout the process. I recommend meeting face-to-face with your advisor on a weekly basis to make communication more direct and reliable, while working at a steady pace.

4) Set deadlines and meet them (especially for your literature review).

Writing a quality FDP takes time, dedication, and effort. An FDP is divided into 5 different sections; introduction, literature review, methodology, results/discussion, and conclusion. Each section must contain specific content. For example, the results/discussion section is primarily reserved for elements like graphs, tables, and interviews. Although most students will have no problem carrying out the task, it is important to remember that the process is time-consuming, meaning the more time you have at your disposal, the better your project will be.

The literature review is arguably the most time-consuming part of the process. In order to give more credibility to your research question, you will have to research what academics have written on the same topic and use it to support your argument. In this process, you will spend a great deal of time reading academic papers, books, and articles, including the most relevant pieces in your literature review.  

One of the reasons the literature is so time-consuming is that every academic article you select has to speak to the research question addressed in your FDP. In addition, you can only include articles you have read in their entirety. For this reason, if you hope to produce a high-quality project, take advantage of all the time you are given. I recommend that students adopt a strict working plan, following a calendar with deadlines agreed upon by you and your advisor.

5) Prepare your presentation and practice it beforehand.

As soon as the written part of the FDP is finished and approved, many students tend to believe that the presentation will be a piece of cake. However, it is important to keep in mind that the presentation is just as important as the written part of the project. Leave enough time after finishing the written part to prepare your oral presentation, and spend time practicing your delivery.

The presentation follows a tight time-constraint that varies depending on the program. This year, BBA students had 10 minutes to present and Communications students had 20 minutes. Generally, the panels for FDP oral presentations are very strict about time. It is extremely important that your presentation sticks to the set time-frame since the panel will stop you as soon as your time is up.

 

It is understandable that every student has their own way of working and organizing themselves. Since I know what it is like to write an FDP, I strongly recommend following the five steps explained above. This will likely be the most significant project you’ll take on, but if you work hard, I can confirm—without a doubt—that you will succeed!

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