Writing a dissertation is an academic requirement for every undergraduate and post-graduate student. The only difference is that each academic level or field has its requirements regarding what information should be included and not. Secondly, the structure of the project may also differ slightly based on your department’s guidelines. A standard dissertation comes in five chapters, including:
- Literature review
Other relevant sections include acknowledgment, abstract, bibliography, and references. In the humanities field, the dissertation mostly looks like an extended essay where you analyze all your sources and then build an argument. So unlike the standard structure, you may use different case studies or themes emanating from your chapters. Now, below is the structure of a dissertation and what it entails.
The title page
It is one of the most critical aspects of the entire dissertation. It is where you state the title of your dissertation and also personal information. This may include your name, institution, department, and program, among others.
The abstract summarizes the dissertation, and it usually ranges from 150 to 300 words. It is best to write it after completing your dissertation to capture all the critical points stated. Information to include are:
- Topic and aim of the project
- The methodology employed for the research
- Summarise the main points
- Findings conclusion
Table of Contents
The table of content contains the chapters and subheadings in the order of appearance and page numbers. It makes it easier for the reader to know where to find what in the project.
The introduction chapter introduces your topic, states the purpose of the research, and why it is important. It also contains a brief dissertation statement, which highlights what to expect in the project. Your introduction must:
- Give background to your research
- Define your scope of work by narrowing down the focus
- State existing findings and why your work is important
- Should give aims and objectives of your project
In the literature review, you summarize relevant existing works in the research field and then argue why your research is relevant. Your aim should be identifying gaps or shortfalls in previous works and how yours would bridge that gap.
This chapter describes the methods employed in obtaining information for your research. It, therefore, allows readers to determine how shallow or in-depth your work is. You should state the approach used, whether qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, or experimental methodology. How was your information collected? Is it through interviews, surveys, or existing data? How were the data collected and analyzed?
What results were obtained after the research? Whatever results you state must be relevant and consistent with your research objectives and question. According to your field of studies or methodology used, you may have to combine or separate the results and discussion sections.
Here, you explore your research findings by discussing their significance and implication to the research area. It should be able to explain your results in detail and state whether your expectations were met. If your expectations were not met, was it because of your scope of work, methodology, or limitations? You should also be able to state how your results complement existing ones.
In the conclusion section, you state the significant points in your research and briefly answer the research question. It should give your reader a clear understanding or argument of your project without reading it entirely. Here, you can also state further research needed on the topic.
This is another important chapter of academic work. Every important source you used in the research should be cited accordingly. It doesn’t matter whether you paraphrased or quoted in entirety. According to your department’s referencing style, it should include the author’s name, the title of work, and the year it was published, among others.