How to structure a dissertation

How to structure a dissertation

A dissertation is structured in the form of study with original research. A dissertation or thesis is a piece of original research that may take several years to write. In most cases, it is submitted for a PhD or master’s degree.

It’s amazing how overwhelming the writing can be on a dissertation. Through this article, you will be able to figure out exactly what’s necessary and where to place it.

Structuring your Dissertation

As a matter of fact, your discipline, subject, and approach will impact your study, and not all dissertations are exactly the same

For example, essays in the humanities frequently use an all-encompassing argument to get their points across, then branch out into various topics and examine specific issues as supporting elements of their thesis.

However, in the analytical disciplines, you can usually have the following components. Sometimes, you’ll have several topics within a single chapter, but on occasion, you will combine them into one. For example, findings and discussion will be intertwined in qualitative social science

There are varying orders of sections, both across fields and across countries. To put it another way, in the illustration, some universities advocate that the response should precede the questions.

When it comes to the framework of your thesis or dissertation, always check in with your supervisor first.


Title page

The first page of your essay is all about who you are, where you went to school, what you studied, and when you will be presenting it. Besides your student number, your supervisor’s name, and your university’s logo, it may include your professional number as well. Quite many systems have strict formatting guidelines for the title page of the dissertation.


You should, of course, provide an acknowledgment of those who assisted you in writing your dissertation if you wish. Depending on the type of study, this could involve the managers, participants, associates, and colleagues.

Most illustrations use shades of gray in their designs, but I prefer to use a black-and-and-white color scheme for legibility.


The abstract is a very brief descriptive description of your dissertation. It should be written at the end of the dissertation, after you’ve finished writing it. Consider in the abstract that

  • Key question and objectives of your investigation
  • describe the techniques you employed
  • Stick to the key points only
  • Get to the bottom of the problem and what needs to be done.

There are few readers who would have time to read the entire dissertations, but it is the first part (and sometimes the only part) that you want to make sure to get correct. If you find it difficult to draft an original abstract, go read our writing guide on how to draft an original.

Table of contents

Let us list all of your chapters and subheadings and numbers in the table of contents, shall we? Structure is given on the contents page of your dissertation and makes it easier for the reader to understand.

Make sure you include all aspects of your dissertation in the table of contents. If you’ve created a heading style in Word, you can have a table of contents made for you automatically.

Table of Figures

In the number of tables and figures you have used, number your results. The “Insert Caption” function is set up in Microsoft Word to automatically create this list for you.

A list of acronyms

For writers who use a lot of abbreviations, it is a good practice to include an alphabetized list of their common abbreviations to make it easier for readers to locate their definitions.

A carefully worked out scheme, invention, project, or plan that deviates significantly from accepted standards or conventional practices.

You would want to provide a glossary if you use several esoteric words that your reader has not seen before. Instead of naming items in a conventional order, list the words alphabetically and use a sentence to define them.

Sometimes, the easiest way to approach problems is to start at the beginning and work to the endpoint


In the introduction,  you explain your dissertation’s topic, identify your goal, and provide background information. After that, you give your reader a preview of what’s to come in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should highlight the substance of the article, not just the surface.

Explain how you will carry out your study, providing enough background information to make your research relevant. Refine the objective and determine the depth of the investigation

Give an overview of the current state of science, showing how your research is connected to a wider problem

Tell me what you want to investigate and where you want to go with this

It should tell your reader everything that they need to know, interest them, and be important to your work. You should be able to comprehend how, why, and finally, when, by the end of the story. For more guidance, read our dissertation introduction on how to write an introduction.

Literature review / Theoretical framework

You should start your research by doing a literature review so you can understand the existing scholarly work on your subject thoroughly. This means

  • selecting references (especially books and journal articles)
  • conducting comprehensive and in-depth analysis of each source
  • connecting the dots to create an overarching argument

In a literature review, you not only synthesize existing information, but also include a cogent framework for future analysis.

  • Speaks to a neglected issue in the literature
  • A fresh approach to the topic
  • suggests a possible solution to an unidentified issue
  • broad ensures a theoretical argument

Literature review complements and supports previous learning by adding new information to it

Many at times, the literature review is used as a theoretical framework, which is an approach that helps to formulate and interpret the main ideas, principles, and models that form the basis of the study. Find creative ways to explain how definitions or variables interact to help your understanding of one another in this section.


It’s the process of investigating, designing, developing, and testing new findings

It outlines the technique employed. This allows the reader to judge its validity. The addition of one or more of the following items will increase the appeal of your work.  Generally it encompasses:

  • The approach (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • methods of data collection (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Questions on place, date, and people were investigated: where, when, and with whom the study was done
  • data analysis approaches ; for example, logistic regression, multivariate techniques, and descriptive statistics (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • a talk about any challenges you encountered while researching and how you surmounted them
  • A discussion of your approaches

The methodology is focused on reporting the research question(s) and conveying to the reader that this was the best way to provide the answers.


Next, you present your findings. This part can be organized around sub-questions, theories, or questions. Only collect and analyze relevant data. in some, the findings and discussion sections are distinctly different but in other disciplines, the two are merged.

For example, in qualitative research, the data analysis should be intertwined with the presentation of the findings, but for quantitative studies, findings should stand alone. And if you’re not certain, look and see what your professor and classmates have done while you do your research.

Tables, graphs, and charts can be particularly helpful in the results section think on how to the best way of presenting your data, and avoid using tables or figures that are just a restatement of your results

Appendices are complete versions of your data (i.e., an entire transcript can be included as supplements)


Discuss your findings in relation to your research questions, context and implication is an essential step in completing your dissertation. Detailed interpretation of findings: Be sure to address if the results matched your expectations and if they did, as well as how well they suited your previous chapters’ structure. The results might be surprising, so include reasons if any of them are out of the ordinary. Although any interpretation of your data is valid, you should also try to understand other, nonobvious assumptions before you report it. If you want your findings to be accepted, be aware of any shortcomings that may have affected them.

Your findings should be brought into conversation with related work to support your findings. In addition, you will make suggestions for new ideas or advice for what you can do now.

You must sum up your results with one simple statement that lets the reader understand your key point of view. Focus your paper on your conclusions on your work and how you finished it. There will also be a discussion of research or practice issues.

It is essential to demonstrate how your results affect society and to elucidate why your study is relevant to that awareness.


Complete details of all resources mentioned in a bibliographic reference must be provided (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). A clear citation style is important. Every style has unique rules on how to properly cite sources.

Harvard and Vancouver referencing are the most commonly used in UK academic institutions. Most  departments prefers APA format, humanities students use MHRA, and lawyers OSCOL.

an After compiling this research, the appendix contains five types of appendices: I will produce these after compiling this research: After completing this research, there are five types of appendices:

Information which is critical to your research question should be contained inside your dissertation should be kept to a minimum. When documents that aren’t part of your body of research (such as interview transcripts, questionnaires, and full-and-figure documents) don’t fit, place them in an appendix.

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