Dissertation Guidelines


The topic is of the student’s choice and must be based on the broad subject of medical art or medical visual communication. For example, this may be a topic you are personally interested in, or that complements and enhances a project or your coursework. This may combine an area of interest within art and medicine in either a historical, philosophical or technical context. Consider that the content of your dissertation will contribute to the field of medical art and will educate and inform.  The text must demonstrate a sound knowledge of your chosen subject, to be structured, creative, lively and interesting.

For example:

  • Web based anatomy learning resources – an exploratory report of digital aids used for distant learning during the pandemic.
  • Medical virtual and augmented reality teaching apps – a review of efficacy.
  • Animating the mechanism of mitosis and meiosis to teach A’level students – the design, production and learning out comings (this could be based on the 2D/3D animation project).
  • Creating an interactive program to teach comparative anatomy of humans and chimpanzees – the design, production and learning out comings (this could be based on the interactive project).
  • Understanding meningitis – Designing and evaluating novel multimedia tools for patients (this could be based on projects such as the patient leaflet, poster, interactive, 2D/3D animation, 3D model, clinical appearance and pathological specimen projects).
  • 3D visualisation of genetic mutations and its application in teaching aids (this could be based on the 3D project).
  • Using virtual reality to visualise brain tumours – an educational resource (this could be based on the 3D project).
  • Animating walking abnormalities – a video based recourse for trainee chiropractors  (again could be from the 2D/3D animation project).
  • Designing a novel recovery app for stroke patients – focusing on design and learning needs.


  • To contribute to medical art/illustration/visual communication through research
  • Communicate your ideas effectively in written and illustrative form.
  • Formulate a statement of purpose or hypothesis of your topic in medical visual communication.
  • Communicate, consult, and negotiate effectively with experts or patients in your given area of research – this may include a small sample of patients or friends which will test or review the ‘application’ of your study (for example testing your app, 3D model etc)
  • Apply critical thinking, time management, and organisational skills in research.
  • Investigate accumulative literature relative to the dissertation topic.
  • Utilise effective writing skills in proposals, reports, and potentially articles for publication.
  • Value the need for accuracy, originality, creativity, and craftsmanship in producing your work.
  • Produce a written dissertation  according to the MAET course format.
  • Select the most appropriate form(s) for illustrative components and prepare all visual material in accordance with its reproduction requirements.


We recommend that each student considers appropriate subjects from the beginning of your course and begins to collate relevant information. You will each have the opportunity to discuss your initial ideas with either your supervisor/s or dissertation supervisor. Throughout your course, your supervisors will be able to give you ongoing support and guidance following through the development of your independent dissertation study.

The Abstract

The initial abstract is a short, well-structured and impactful summary of the salient points within your dissertation. This informs the potential ready what your area of research will be about, its aims and your findings. Your abstract will cover and include the following four key points:

1. The purpose of your research i.e. what it is about i.e. your aims and why your research area is important

2. The methodology i.e. how you designed and carried out your study

3. Youy key findings and discussion

4. The implications of your findings, conclusions and what they mean

Prepare your abstract (this may change over time, as your research and study progresses) and discuss your ideas with your supervisor before embarking on your project.


Presenting dissertations for initial review

Hard copies only will be read and reviewed by supervisors, whether these are presented at seminars or posted. No copies are to be sent by email. Dissertations will only be returned by post when an SAE is supplied, complete with the correct postage. Please ensure your text has been run through a spell and grammar checker before each review.


Your key dissertation copy may have a maximum of two readings by your dissertation supervisor, firstly when your work has been collated into its initial final form and secondly a final reading prior to completion and before sending your two final copies to the Director of Education, who will forward these to each External Examiner for review.


Each student must complete their final preliminary version of their dissertation at least three months before their Final Examination date and an final draft prepared to accompany your Penultimate Assessment. Please refer to the Binding section below. This will allow for external marking, review and the time to undertake any recommendations, before your final editing and binding for the Final Examination presentation.

Binding and copies required

Initially two ‘simply bound’ copies are required, and are sent to the Director of Education who will then forward these to the two External Examiners for marking. Once reviewed, you will need to undertake any recommendations and then bind your final dissertation in the style and manner of your choice. Ultimately six copies will be required a minimum three weeks before your Final Examination, in order these can be sent to all the Examiners by the Director of Education and will accompany your Final Examination. Two copies will be required for the MAET archives.


Your dissertation must be your sole work, being original, written in your own words and well researched. Each student will be required to include the two items referred to in the attached pdf file: MAET Dissertation Signed Declaration.

The main body of text should be in the region of 5,000 words +/- 10%. Attention should be paid to the text design, font, spacing, grammar and syntax. Please ensure all text has been run through a spell and grammar checker prior to submissions. Suggested reading for writing your dissertation, good writing and grammar are recommended under the ‘suggested reading’ section.


  1. Frontispiece – Title and name, followed by the course information i.e. ‘Submitted as part of the Postgraduate Training Programme in Medical Art for the Medical Artists’ Education Trust’. Include your ‘signed declaration’.
  2. Abstract – 100 words
  3. Contents page – with page numbers
  4. Introduction – subject covered i.e. how and what you intend to cover
  5. Chapters – or headings of main content sections within your dissertation
  6. Conclusion – 100 to 200 words, a concise summary of your findings and research
  7. References
  8. Illustration references
  9. Appendix – if required
  10. Acknowledgements

Citing references

References must appear within the text and listed on the reference page. Your dissertation is required to follow the Harvard System and all references itemised as per the ‘Dissertation Signed Declaration’


Your dissertation should be fully illustrated with images, collated and properly acknowledged. Photocopying is acceptable for dissertation use only. Students are encouraged to include their own artworks, diagrams and illustrations wherever possible. All illustrations should have a caption indicating: a title or a description and the illustration source – referenced using the Harvard System.

Page layout and format

Design is an important element of your dissertation and should show a good use of space, typographical layout including the placing of images within the text. There must be consistency of layout with regard to text, placing of images and legends throughout. Pages must be numbered. The design format and page size is of the student’s choice, for example portrait, landscape or square. A4 size being the recommended maximum size for printability.

Suggested Reading

  • Swetnam, D. and Swetnam, R. (2009) Writing your dissertation : the bestselling guide to planning, preparing and presenting first-class work. 3Rd ed. [with 2009 revisions] edn. Oxford England: How To Books (How to books). ISBN 1-85703-662-X
  • Wyse, D. (2006) The good writing guide for education students. London: SAGE Publications (Sage study skills). ISBN 1-4129-1984-3
  • Truss, L. (2009) Eats, shoots and leaves. Profile books: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-184668-035-9
  • There is a selection of MAET dissertation reference books in the MAET library, which you may borrow.

Citing References

The MAET dissertation is to follow the Harvard System for book and illustration references.
We recommend the booklet ‘Citing References – a guide for students’ by David Fisher & Terry Harrison, Blackwell ISBN 1–85377–992–X £1  You can download a pdf copy here: citing-references_compress

There are also online websites where you may place the reference details and the correct citing is prepared for you.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

Each dissertation should be the sole work of each student. The dissertation being entirely your own original design, concepts, content and independent research. The External External Examiners will crosscheck references and text.

Ensure you have complied with the ‘Dissertation Signed Declaration’ and Reference Information.

Please note: when you include images such as specimens, patient information, photographs etc, it is each student’s responsibility to gain the relevant consents. Further information may be found via the ‘National Guidelines’ link on the ‘Rules and Regulations’ page of this website.

If you want to check for plagiarism in your work you can use Grammerly plagiarism checker

MAET Dissertation Signed declaration


Additional supporting information to accompany your project guidelines

  • Alongside your MAET studies, each student is required to attend regular life drawing classes 
  • Build sketchbooks and artworks collated to build a good portfolio combining short and quick studies for example
  • Collate drawings in different styles and mediums, concentrating on form, structure, proportion and anatomical details and accuracy, for example develop and consider the following throughout your study progression:
  • Contour drawings
  • Quick flash drawings
  • Modeled drawings
  • Movement and action
  • Single figures
  • Group of figures
  • Composition of figure/s
  • Add weight and mass to the figures
  • Consider light and shade
  • Draw whole or parts of the figures
  • Proportion
  • Nude and clothed figures
  • Study of skeleton and anatomy
  • Studies beginning in pencil, to inks, to conte, to charcoal, to pen an wash, to watercolour, to oils
  • Consider comparative animal anatomy
  • A selection of your life drawing pieces will be chosen by your tutor to be formally mounted and presented as part of your Final Examination display, alongside your sketchbook studies


Titles of Presented Dissertation Subjects

The Art of Making Anatomical Preparations

William Cowper – Pioneer or Plagiarist?

Leprosy in Historic Art and Sculpture

An Appreciation of the Henry Tonks ‘Studies of Facial Injuries’ Pastel Drawings

The Inspiration behind Popular, Contemporary Anatomical Images

The Development of Prosthetic Limbs from B.C. to the 21st Century

Facial Reconstruction – A short history of its contribution to Forensic Art

Down Syndrome: Clinical Appearance and Common Medical Conditions

Women in Medieval Medicine

Tribal and Western concepts through a study of Orlan’s Self-Hybridations

The History of Dissection – It’s influence in the fields of Art and Science

A New Dimension in Medical Art

The Androgyny Dichotomy

The Heart and the Feather – A study of Egyptian Embalmment

Designs of the Human Body – Decoration and Manipulation

Artistic Anatomy and the Ecorche Figure in Europe 1700-1900

Anatomical Votives and their use in Greek and Roman Antiquity

Anatomy – A theatre of Events

Additional Information Grammatical Information for ‘Commas, colons and semicolons’

Compiled from grammatical sources for your support by Examiner Mrs Bryony Cohen Copyright 2020

How to use commas

The comma: a separator

Commas can be used to separate the following:

  • Items in lists I went to the newsagents and I bought some pens, a book, a pencil and a ruler.
  • A list of main clauses John was doing his homework, his brother was playing ball, his father was in the garden and his mother was at the sink.
  • Adjectives; use a comma where an and would be appropriate It was a gloomy, humid day. (The day was gloomy and humid).
  • Some phrases/clauses/words starting a sentence For example: Because she was ill, she stayed at home. Before she could open the door, she heard a noise. Looking out of the window, he realised that the sun had come out. If only she wouldn’t scrap her hair back so aggressively, Mary could be an attractive girl. Stop, or I’ll scream. However, the answer was not so simple.
  • Phrases/clauses/words in the middle of a sentence using commas in pairs. The words between the commas can be removed and the sentence would still make sense.

The horse, which was pawing at the ground, threw up its head and hit her on the nose.
The man, tall and erect, doffed his hat as he passed by.
It is obvious, therefore, that we will not be able to come to the party.
A common error is to insert one comma but not the other.

Incorrect. I have often thought that if only he wouldn’t stoop so, Edward could look much taller.
Correct. I have often thought that, if only he wouldn’t stoop so, Edward could look much taller.
Incorrect. The Labrador is the friendliest, and perhaps the most popular of all dog species.
Correct. The Labrador is the friendliest, and perhaps the most popular, of all dog species.

Remember commas are separators so don’t use them to separate words that shouldn’t be separated. In these sentences the comma is not necessary:

For the past eight years, we have undertaken the planting of hedges.
The most well known female graduate from the medical school was Lydia, who worked there as a professor.
Commas can be used before a conjunction such as and, but, because, as, if. Use in long and complex sentences, or if you want a ‘breather’ in a short sentence.

She used more grapes than most people, and extra sugar, and I’d put a lot of it on the bread, because that day there was new baking and that’s why I was queasy.

Her hair was long, and green slides held it back from her face.

The Oxford comma

 This is a comma before the last and in a list. Use it to make a list clearer. 

She went to the chemist, the bank, and Bradford and Bingley building society.
(Used after bank here because there are two ands in the list).
Road signs can tell us to slow down, take note, take a detour, and stop.
(Without the comma after detour you might think there were only three things road signs can do rather than four).

Commas cannot be used to join sentences

Incorrect. Her hair was long, she hated having it cut.
Correct versions. Her hair was long. She hated having it cut.

Her hair was long; she hated having it cut.
Her hair was long because she hated having it cut.

Incorrect. My name is Steve, I live in Leeds.
Correct versions. My name is Steve. I live in Leeds.

My name is Steve and I live in Leeds.
My name is Steve; I live in Leeds.

Use commas to differentiate between defining and non-defining clauses (clauses beginning with who, which or that)

If a clause is defining you do not need commas

The experiments that they reported were successful.
Inference: there were other experiments which were not successful and which have not been included in the reports. The clause that they reported defines which experiments the sentence is talking about.

The people in the queue who managed to get tickets were very satisfied.
Inference: the clause who managed to get tickets defines which people you are talking about; it tells you that only those people with tickets in the queue were happy.

If a clause is non-defining you need commas

The experiments, which they reported, were successful.
Inference: all the experiments were successful.

The people in the queue, who managed to get tickets, were very satisfied.
Inference: everyone in the queue managed to get tickets.

Note: non-defining clauses  – the ones between the commas – cannot begin with that.

Commas are important. Put in the wrong place they can change the meaning.

Leonora walked on her head, a little higher than usual.  Can you walk on your head?
Correct. Leonora walked on, her head a little higher than usual.

He shot himself as a child. Did he hit himself or do you mean he went shooting?
Correct. He shot, himself, as a child.

Don’t guess, use a timer or watch. Do you mean you shouldn’t do any of these three things?
Correct. Don’t guess; use a timer or watch.

The driver managed to escape from the vehicle before it sank and swam to the riverbank. Do cars swim?
Correct. The driver managed to escape from the vehicle before it sank, and swam to the riverbank.

How to use colons

The colon: use to explain

The colon is often preceded by a complete sentence and what follows the colon is an explanation or elaboration of the sentence before

We found your barn easily: your directions were very good.
Tower blocks, narrow streets, banks and supermarkets, restaurants and pubs: this is the City.
It had rained for months: the ground was soggy, the rivers overflowing and no crops had ripened in the fields.
I loved wine gums as a child: no one else did.
Predicting and preventing catastrophic deterioration in postoperative oral and maxillofacial surgical patients: would a Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS) help?

Place your colons sensibly

Horse riders and cyclists should use the tarmac roads: to prevent damage to the site and protect other visitors, off-road riding and cycling are not permitted.
Much better as: To prevent damage to the site and protect other visitors, off-road riding and cycling are not permitted: horse riders and cyclists should use the tarmac roads.

The colon can also be used at the beginning of a list

We have: a dog, a parrot, two goldfish and a snake.
The following items were sold from the house: the dining table, the dining chairs, all the pictures and a wardrobe.

Please contact us if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Arm swelling
  • Aches and pains
  • Breathlessness or coughing
  • Headaches

To introduce dialogue or quotations

Peter asked: ‘Is she really going to come to supper tonight?’
I wrote this about punctuation last year: ‘Everyone seems to have trouble with it.’

To show a ratio

The ratio was 2:1.

How to use semicolons

The semicolon: a stop between related sentence

You can use a semicolon instead of a full stop to separate whole sentences that are distinctly related. Both sentences must make complete sense on their own.

He looked up at the sky; dark clouds indicated rain was soon to come.
David won a medal for swimming; the headmaster presented it to him on sports day.
Anne passed her driving test; Laura failed.
Because it was raining, they stayed in the kitchen; they finished up all the cake.
Use a semicolon between sentences joined by a linking word such as however, nevertheless, now, also, meanwhile, for example

Several solutions have been considered; however, a walkway was eventually chosen.
He woke up in his own bed; nevertheless, he felt he had not had enough sleep.
Before last week’s argument I was going to stay with him; now, I’m not so sure.
Note: linking words can be used with commas placed on either side if they are not joining full sentences.

The solution, however, is not sensible.
Building a hotel, for example, would have solved the problem.

The semicolon can also be used in complex lists

Those present at prize giving included the chairman of governors, David Clench; the headmistress, Nicola Davidson; the deputy head, Alan Taylor; and other members of staff.
Cheap fares were offered to Corfu, the Greek island; Istanbul; Bruges – on the Eurostar; and Berlin.
Note: in these sentences you need to include a semicolon before the final and.


To clarify the difference between full stops, colons and semicolons look at these sentences 

Angela is coming to my dinner party. John is going on holiday.
Inference: John and Angela are not necessarily a couple. These statements are unconnected.

Angela is coming to my dinner party; John is going on holiday.
Inference: Angela and John are probably a couple and Angela is probably coming on her own as John will be away. The statements are related.

Angela is coming to my dinner party: John is going on holiday.
Inference: Angela is coming because John is going away. John’s going on holiday explains why Angela is coming.

Details on all the Medical Artists' Education Trust projects can be found below