Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Dissertation Structure - A Complete Guide on Layout

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Published on: Oct 16, 2019

Last updated on: Jan 26, 2023

Dissertation Structure

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Dissertation writing is a form of academic writing that is based on primary research. This assignment type is submitted for a doctoral, master’s, or bachelor’s degree program.

When assigning a dissertation to the grad students, an instructor expects a scholarly and well-written piece of work.

A dissertation is a formal piece of writing or a research project. Because of this, its structure matters a lot. Without structure, the researched information is just a collection of random facts. To give meaning to your research, a structure is provided.

Continue reading the blog to understand the dissertation’s multiple parts that provide structure and strength to the content.

How to Structure a Dissertation?

Writing a dissertation is a lengthy and time-consuming task. Graduate students often get confused about how to take a strat on such an important academic assignment. The first and foremost step to take after choosing a dissertation topic is to decide the structure.

A dissertation structure is based on several essential elements. Each element is equally important and contributes a lot to the overall success of the dissertation. Although not every dissertation is structured similarly.

The structure depends on the field or discipline you are writing your dissertation for. For instance, a dissertation written for subjects related to humanities has a different structure from the dissertations written for science subjects.

Usually, the structure and format in which your dissertation should be written are provided in the instructions and guidelines. Read and understand them thoroughly to outline your dissertation. If you are not given any instructions regarding the structure, follow the basic outline.

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Following are the basic elements that can be used to structure all types of dissertations. Let's discuss these points in detail.

1. Title/Cover Page

The cover or the title page is the first page of your dissertation. The dissertation title page includes the following information:

  • Title or topic of the dissertation
  • Writer’s name
  • Writer’s roll number
  • Supervisor’s name
  • Name of the department
  • Institute’s name
  • Degree program
  • Submission date
  • Institute’s logo

Although it is important to know that a title page is written according to the format of your dissertation. For example, if you are writing a dissertation in MLA, or any, or Chicago, you will have to compose your cover page accordingly.

To get a clearer understanding, check out the sample provided below of the title page in MLA format:

2. Acknowledgements

This page allows you to express your gratitude to the individuals who helped you on your study path. It's usually optional (and has no impact on your grades), but it is a good academic habit to do so.

So, who do you thank for their help? There are no set standards, but it's normal to mention the following individuals:

  • The committee or supervisor who approved your dissertation.
  • Any professors, lecturers, or teachers who assisted you in comprehending the subject or methodologies.
  • Experts who had helped you with your research.
  • Your partner, family, and friends, especially if you're studying part-time (for adult learners).

There's no need for lengthy rambling. Simply thank those people who have made a difference in your life and what they've done (e.g., thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his unwavering support and attention). Keep this short, but sincere.

3. Abstract

An abstract of your dissertation is a summary of about 150-300 words. In this section, you precisely discuss the entire dissertation. For this purpose, it is preferable to write this part after you have written your dissertation.

An abstract includes the following information:

  • The main topic of the dissertation
  • Objectives of the research
  • Research methods used in the dissertation
  • Summary of the results
  • A brief conclusion

The abstract is the first paragraph of your dissertation. To make people read your dissertation, make this paragraph interesting and informative. Make sure to add only the relevant information in the most precise manner.

4. Table of Contents

The table of content is the list of individual chapters and headings used in the dissertation. All the headings and subheadings of the dissertation are written in the form of a table here and page numbers.

The table of content helps readers navigate the document. Moreover, it provides an overview of your dissertation’s structure. Make sure to add every part of your dissertation in this section.

5. List of Tables and Figures

Just as the name suggests, all the tables, charts, and figures used within the dissertation are listed down in this section. A writer is required to produce a numbered list for this part of the dissertation.

6. Glossary

A glossary is a list that includes highly specialized terms and concepts. This section is generated so that it becomes easier for the readers to understand tough unfamiliar terms.

To write down the glossary, list down all the terms alphabetically and provide their definition or explanation. Usually, the glossary is also developed after writing the dissertation. It is to make sure that no important term is left to be added to the list.

7. Introduction

After providing the abstract and the lists, the introduction of the dissertation is written. It is important to have a good start to your introduction. It is the official starting of your dissertation, and it should be impressive enough to grab the reader’s attention.

The introduction of the dissertation contains all the relevant information that needs to introduce the topic. It includes objectives, the purpose of the dissertation, and the thesis statement. The purpose of writing an introduction is to provide readers with something to expect from your research.

The introduction of a dissertation contains the following information:

  • Present the topic of your research and provide background information
  • Present the focus of your study
  • Provide the scope of your research
  • Provide a reference for your topic’s existing research and how your research contributes to the broader problem discussion.
  • State your major research question
  • State the goals and objectives of your dissertation
  • Provide an overview of the elements of your dissertation structure

All the information in the introduction section should be explicitly presented to make it engaging for the readers. Ensure that your introduction gives your readers a complete picture of the what, why, and how of the research.

8. Literature Review

Before collecting data and research, a writer must conduct a literature review. A literature review is an integral part of a dissertation. It is written to have a complete understanding of the topic through already existing works of academics.

A literature review is written following the steps given below:

  • Collecting the most relevant and credible sources, such as books, journals, etc.
  • Evaluating each source
  • Analyzing each source
  • Drawing connections between the themes, gaps, conflicts, etc.

A literature review is not where you only summarize the relevant studies. Instead, it requires a writer to develop an argument and structure that further becomes the basis of justification for his research. A literature review provides the following insights into your work:

  • Gaps in the previous works
  • Helps in taking a new methodological and theoretical advice on the topic
  • Provides a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Initiates a theoretical debate
  • Strengthens the knowledge with new information

9. Methodology

After you have identified the existing knowledge about the research topic, it is time to conduct your research on the topic. The methodology chapter is where the methods and techniques involved in conducting the study and collecting the data are discussed.

This section explains how the writer achieved the findings of the research and the reasons for their reliability. Moreover, the methodology section should have the following information:

  • The approach of the research. For example, whether the research is qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, or experimental.
  • Techniques and methods through which you collected the data. For example, interviews, surveys, etc.
  • The “how, what, when, and where” of the research.
  • Methods in which you analyzed the data. For example, statistical analysis, etc.
  • Materials and tools used in gathering the data. For example, computer programs (Excel, STAT) and lab equipment.
  • A discussion of limitations and obstacles faced during the research.
  • Evaluation of the methods used.

The major objective of writing this section is to report what the writer did in the research. Moreover, it persuades the audience that the approaches and methods used are the best for solving problems.

10. Results

Just as the name suggests, this section reports the research results obtained. The research chapter is constructed using hypotheses, sub-questions, or topics. The rule of writing this section is to only state relevant results that support the objectives of the research.

Depending on the dissertation type, the result section is often separated from the discussion chapter. While for some dissertations, the results are a part of the discussion. To make your result section attractive, add tables, charts, and graphs. It will help the readers understand your research and its purpose better.

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11. Discussion

After obtaining the results of your research, a discussion section is written. In this chapter, the meaning and implications of the results are discussed in relation to the main research question. Here the results are interpreted in detail.

If the writer observes new findings and the predicted results, they should be stated in this section. Make sure that the references provided in this section show how your results fit with the existing knowledge.

Moreover, a writer can make recommendations for future research in the discussion section.

12. Conclusion

The conclusion section is written to precisely answer the research question or the thesis statement. The concluding paragraphs of the dissertation leave the audience clear of the main argument.

In some cases, the conclusion is provided in a short manner before the discussion section. While in some situations, the conclusion is the final chapter of a dissertation, which includes the final reflection of the research.

In this section, a writer proves how his/her research contributes to the knowledge in the field and its importance.

13. Bibliography

The bibliography or the reference list is where all the information about the sources is provided. In this list, the information and sources cited in the dissertation are presented here, along with the relevant explanation. The bibliography presents the source along with its author’s name and other publication details.

The bibliography chapter is written according to the chosen citation style. This is because each style has its requirements to be fulfilled in this section. Usually, the citation format is given in the dissertation guideline, but the most common are APA and MLA styles.

Dissertation Examples

To have a better understanding of the format and structure of the dissertation, students require examples. The experts also recommend looking at a few already written dissertation samples to write yours successfully.

The following are the dissertation examples that will help you understand and write a winning dissertation.

Dissertation Writing Tips

Writing a dissertation is the most difficult academic work. It is because both the research and writing process is time-consuming and daunting for the writers. But if the professional tips are followed, the process gets a lot more understandable and manageable.

Following are the tips provided by expert dissertation writers at

  • Start with your dissertation early as the writing process is time taking.
  • Set deadlines for each day and try to meet them.
  • Frequently read, study, and take notes of the relevant information to add to your dissertation.
  • Write as much as you can. The drafts do not need to be perfect but roughly written to deduce the best out of it.
  • Take time to decide on the research question or the thesis statement.
  • Spend adequate time in determining the research methodologies.
  • If you get stuck in a specific section, move on to the other one and deal with it later.
  • Make sure to conduct extensive research on your topic. This will help you write a better literature review.
  • Write down the abstract of your dissertation at the end.
  • If you get stuck in your introduction, raft the body first.
  • Frequently talk about your ideas to your instructor and get suggestions.

To persuade the audience, structuring your dissertation is essential. Instructors and the audience expect an organized piece of work that is advancing their knowledge in the field. Furthermore, the writer’s research and writing skills are reflected in the structured and properly outlined work.

If you find it challenging to write a dissertation, seek help from dissertation writing services. is a professional essay writing service that assists students in writing all their academic assignments. Be it a simple essay or a complex master’s dissertation, or a case study.

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Frequently Asked Question

What are the main components of dissertation structure?

The following are the parts of a dissertation:

  • a title
  • an introduction
  • Headings
  • conclusion.

You should also have a bibliography that includes the work of other authors.

What is dissertation word count?

The word count is different for each school. Some schools allow you to write up to 60,000 words. Other parts of the dissertation, like the table of contents or bibliography, do not count against your total word count. But make sure that you double-check with your school before writing that many words!

How to reduce plagiarism in a dissertation?

You should paraphrase and cite other people's work. Be sure you know the right way to do this before you start writing. If you don't, your work will be considered plagiarized, and it might get you in trouble.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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