Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations

Dissertation Structure

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  1. Abstract or Executive Summary


The length of the Abstract should be no more than 300-500 words, but not included in the formal word count.


The purpose of this very short section is to tell the reader something about the contents. About 1/3 of the Abstract should explain what you intended to do (parameters). The other 2/3rds should tell the reader what you did, including recommendations.


The Abstract may duplicate some material included in the Introduction and/or Conclusion


  1. Introduction


The length of the Introduction should be about 10% of the whole dissertation.


The Introduction gives you the opportunity to provide your reader with an overview of the dissertation. Firstly, introduce the topic; secondly, outline the key areas to be covered; and identify your primary aims and objectives.


The background section should be short and securely focused on the topic, real statistical data can be included.


Larger themes, as well as specific topics, should be identified


  1. Literature Review


The length of the Literature review should be about 20% of whole dissertation.


This chapter gives you an opportunity to show the reader that you have learned to analyse and to synthesise the views of others in relation to your own research programme.


The Literature Review is NOT a Book Review. Contents of books and articles are only useful if particular points have some direct relevance to your dissertation. In Literature Review you should compare and contrast ideas, theories and/or views relevant to your proposed research topic. Keep in mind that at least 10 references should be discussed and 3-4 different models or theories or views should be mentioned.


At the end of this chapter, identify the principal research questions to be addressed in the dissertation. These will form the basis of your dissertation in the subsequent chapter on Research Methodology.


  1. Research Methodology


The Research Methodology chapter in length should be about 20% of whole dissertation.


This chapter gives you an opportunity to discuss the research programme that you have designed for your dissertation.


Begin by reviewing briefly some common methods advocated for structuring research programmes.


Then look again at the research questions formulated at the end of the Literature Review. Select the kind of programme best suited for addressing those particular research questions, and discus the reasons prompting your decision.


Discuss the research strategies adopted, the collection procedures selected and the difficulties and/or problems encountered.

  1. Findings and Discussion


You might divide this chapter for two like:

    • Analysis of Findings
    • Discussion


This is the largest and probably the most important part in assessing your research by examiners. The length of this section should be about 30% of the whole dissertation.


The Findings and Discussion chapter gives you an opportunity to discuss your research findings.

Your findings may be derived from the analyses of statistical data, interviews, questionnaires or any viable combination of instruments used for research collection and the measurement of data.

Link important points of this chapter back to principle ideas in the Literature Review with the evidence obtained in your own research.


End this chapter with a brief summary of you findings. This, in turn, should set the scene for the concluding chapter.


  1. Conclusions and Recommendations


Again you can divide this chapter on two smaller parts:

  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations or Recommendations fro the future studies


This chapter in lengths should be about 15% of the whole dissertation.


The Conclusions and Recommendations chapter gives you the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of your research programme and to offer recommendations, if desired.


Conclusions can be rather short, because the bulk of the analysis and synthesis of material will probably have taken place in the chapter of Findings and Discussion.


In your Conclusions be sure that all of the questions raised in the Literature Review have been addressed. Weigh the final results of your research against the original aims and objectives of the dissertation. Anomalies, for example, can be important and interesting.


Add recommendations if you desired. Ideas for further research and/or some strategies advocated for better management of the issue or the enterprise are particularly useful.


  1. Bibliography


Not included in the word count


This part of the dissertation gives you the opportunity to show the reader what research sources were used in your dissertation.


All books articles, sources of statistical data and web sites used in the dissertation must be listed in the bibliography. Additional sources consulted should be also be placed in the bibliography


Entries in the Bibliography should be placed in alphabetical order. Web sites, however, should be grouped together separately at the end of the Bibliography.


  1. Appendices


Not included in the word count


This part oft the dissertation gives you an opportunity to add interesting research material to your dissertation.


Interview summaries and sample questionnaires, for example, should appear in the Appendices


All Rights Reserved 2005 Verena Vaneeva

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