Dissertation Structure - A Step by Step Format Guide

A dissertation is a type of writing that is based on comprehensive research. It is a part of the undergraduate or postgraduate degree, and every student should have to submit this.

However, following the proper structure of the dissertation is necessary, and it depends on your field. Therefore, when you start writing the dissertation, you must consult your professor and understand what type of dissertation structure they need.

Also, when your professor does not define any specific structure, you are unsure how to structure your dissertation. Continue reading this blog, get to know the proper structure of the dissertation, and create a well-written piece of work.

Let’s get started!

Dissertation Structure Definition

The structure of a dissertation is made up of different parts which are divided into paragraphs. This structure helps organize ideas in a research paper and makes it easier for the reader to follow your ideas.

Different academic disciplines have different rules for what your dissertation should look like. It is important to verify with your department what type of structure they require.

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Parts of a Dissertation Structure

A dissertation structure is the arrangement of research contents. It consists of several parts that help the readers to navigate the ideas more easily. Also, it is essential to flow the ideas in the research paper properly.

However, the dissertation structure depends on your topic, field, and approach. For instance, the dissertation for science subjects has a different structure than humanities.

If you want to write a dissertation by research, your word count will be 12000 to 15000 words. However, if you write a dissertation by translating and commenting, the translation will be based on source text comprising 6,000 words. Moreover, the words of your commentary will be around 6000 to 8000 words.

Furthermore, the supervisor provides the dissertation structure plan, so read them first and then start outlining your dissertation. Even so, if not giving any particular instructions regarding the structure, follow the basic outline.

Below are some elements that will help you structure different types of dissertations.

Let us discuss these elements in detail.

Title Page

When you are writing your dissertation, the title page is the first thing the reader’s will see. So, it is important to spend some time thinking about your title. There are three things you need to make sure your title has if you want it to be effective:
  1. Specific
  2. Succinct
  3. Representative

A good title for a paper typically includes information about the following:

  • Broader area of research
  • Focus of the research
  • Research design

The title page is the first part of the dissertation, and it contains the following information:

  • Dissertation title
  • Your name
  • Name of the institution
  • Department name
  • Name of the degree program
  • University logo
  • Submission date

However, some universities or colleges recommend including the supervisor’s name and student registration number on the title page. Also, they have different arrangements of the title page components, so it is better that you inquire with your faculty.

Moreover, for printing and binding, the title page is used as a cover of the dissertation.


This section is optional, but it acknowledges those who helped you write the dissertation. For example, it might include supervisors, parents, friends, funding agencies, or any other person that supported you in writing the thesis.

You don't need to write a lot for your Thanksgiving letter. Just say who you're thankful for and what they did for you. For example, "I'm grateful to my supervisor, Brown John, for his patience and attentiveness." Keep this section no more than one page.


An abstract is a concise and accurate summary of your research work. It tells the readers the overall purpose of the research paper. It is usually about 150-300 words long and covers the following information:

  • Introduce the topic
  • Research problem
  • Describe the research methodology
  • Summarize the main results
  • State the conclusion

Therefore, keep this information in mind and include it in your dissertation abstract. Also, it is preferable to write it last after the whole research is done. Otherwise, you will end up writing and rewriting the abstract multiple times.

However, some students or researchers prefer to write it first because it provides a framework for dissertation writing.

Table of Contents

This section lists all the chapters and headings that you use in the dissertation. This section guides the readers to navigate the document easily and gives an overview of the structure.

However, only write the most useful headings and main parts of the dissertation in this section. You can also automatically create the table of contents in Word.

List of Figures and Tables

You can also include the figures, charts, and tables if your dissertation has, and you should show them in a numbered list. Also, add a caption for each table, chart, or anything that you add graphically.


An introduction is a part that introduces the reader to your dissertation. It acts as a guide to your readers and tells what they expect from the rest of the dissertation. Also, an introduction briefly introduces the purpose and relevance of your dissertation topic.

When you write the dissertation introduction, you should include the following information:

  • Introduce the topic
  • Give some background information about the topic
  • Demonstrates why is this topic is important
  • Identify the scope of your research
  • Mention your research questions or hypothesis
  • Mention your methods/research design
  • State the goals and objectives of your dissertation
  • Provide an overview of the structure of your dissertation

Therefore, keep these points in mind and include them in your dissertation introduction. However, write all the information in a clear, engaging, and relevant way.

Here is a dissertation introduction sample for your ease.

Dissertation Structure Introduction (PDF)

Literature Review

The literature review is the main part of the dissertation. To write a good literature review for a dissertation, you need to read the previous work and research on the topic.

For this purpose, you have to do in-depth research and gather relevant information. Read journals, books, and research articles to help you write the literature review easily.

However, when you gather information for the literature review, you need to keep the following questions in mind:

  • How does your research contribute to the original research?
  • How will the previous research help you to develop your methodology?
  • How does your research make a big difference?

Therefore, you must not summarize the existing studies but develop a well-organized argument for your research.

Also, in this section, you should:

  • Define the key theories.
  • Analyze the models and concepts that frame your research.
  • Answer the descriptive research questions.
  • Identify research gaps.

Check this sample for your help.

Dissertation Structure Literature Review (PDF)


The dissertation methodology section explains how you conduct your research. In this section, you need to answer two critical questions:

  1. What is your intended research design?
  2. How do you justify your research design?

Also, you have to mention some other major information:

  • The methods of data collection such as surveys, case studies, interviews, etc.
  • Tools that you used for your research.
  • Type of research such as qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, etc.
  • Difficulties that you faced in organizing the research and how you overcome them.

Therefore, try to make the methodology convincing and meet your research goals. Here is an example that you can use for your help.

Methodology Dissertation Structure (PDF)


The findings produce the research methodology results. In some universities or departments, the findings and discussions are explained together. However, in others, they are different entities.

Usually, charts and graphs are used to show the findings but not using tables or figures.


The discussion is the section in which you present the data analysis results, interpret and analyze them. The results are explained in detail and discuss how well they fit your research framework. Also, you need to discuss your results regarding the research question.

You need to talk about what you found in your research. What did your research show? What do your research questions mean? Is it the same as what other researchers have found or different? If it's different, why do you think that is?


A good conclusion makes a huge difference in your dissertation. It is the last part where you demonstrate that your dissertation is well-evidenced and well-researched.

It is the final chapter where you answer your research questions. You will state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous parts, but it is important to explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

In the dissertation conclusion, you should include:

  • Restate the research aims and objectives
  • Possible recommendations
  • Research gaps
  • Your contribution to the knowledge

However, write all these things clearly and concisely. Also, try to make it strong and encourage the reader to do further research on the topic.

Reference List

The reference list includes all the sources you have cited in your dissertation. For the reference list, some use an APA, MLA, and Chicago citation format. However, no matter which format you use, cite the sources properly and save yourself from plagiarism issues.

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography in your dissertation. This is similar to a reference list, but it also includes resources that you used to inform your thinking but not directly cited in your dissertation. So, make sure you use the right one.


It is part of the dissertation in which you add information that is too large for the main text. It includes:

  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • Transcripts
  • Scholarly artifacts

Your appendices should provide more information that is interesting but not necessary for the analysis. Appendices are not a way to avoid having to write more, so don't put important information here.

Take a look at this template and get an idea of the perfect dissertation.

Dissertation Structure Template (PDF)

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Dissertation Structure Examples

Here are some fantastic examples of how other people have written their dissertations. These examples may help you get started on writing your own.

Related: Dissertation Examples for Different Academic Levels & Fields

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Dissertation Structure Guidelines

The following are the tips and guidelines that you should follow to write a great dissertation.

  • Write the rough draft first.
  • Spend time in the data collection phase.
  • Gather information for your dissertation relevant to your research.
  • When you are stuck in writing some section, move further.
  • Use an easily readable font.
  • You should know how to cite a dissertation.
  • Gather data from credible and reliable sources.
  • To make your document more interesting, use a font size of 12 and double spacing.
  • Consult your instructor or supervisor and understand their requirements.
  • Tables and figures must be formatted properly to appear on the page; if they aren't, you can change that particular document's pages to have a landscape orientation.
  • The table of contents needs updating with headings created in Microsoft Word.
  • Check the word count.
  • Write all the dissertation chapters in the correct format.
  • Know the difference between dissertation vs. thesis.
  • Build the theoretical framework and define the key concepts, results, and discussion.
  • In the introduction chapter, describe the main purpose of your research.
  • Keep the main goal in mind in writing the discussion chapter.
  • Add a list of abbreviations at the start.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When you are writing a dissertation, it can be difficult to stay motivated. You might find yourself feeling like the entire project is too much work and that all of your efforts would not matter in later life if they didn't come out correctly now - but don’t give up.

For your help, we gathered some mistakes that should be avoided and makes your dissertation writing process easy.

  • If you want to get your dissertation done on time, don't procrastinate. Start by writing a plan and then stick to it. Write every day, even if it's only for a little while. And make sure you proofread and revise your work often.
  • No matter how much you have learned in university, your dissertation will not be good if you don't have the skills to do research and write well. You need both research skills and writing talent to do a great job on your dissertation.
  • Not following professional advice can be harmful. Although it is great to have faith in your own abilities, you should listen to the recommendations of others. Taking into account the experience of other professionals can be very helpful, no matter what field or topic you are writing about for your dissertation.

Hopefully, this blog must have helped you learn how to structure a dissertation. However, if you need any help regarding a dissertation or a thesis structure, you can contact GradSchoolGenius. Our professional writers will help you write a great dissertation structure.

We offer top-notch dissertation writing services for all types of academic levels. So, contact our team now and get the best help writing your dissertation.

So, contact our team now and get the best help in writing your dissertation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many pages is a dissertation?

Usually, dissertations are written in 100-300 pages. However, your supervisor or institute can guide you on the length of pages of your dissertation.

How do I start my dissertation?

You can start your dissertation by considering the following main points:

  • Choose a dissertation topic
  • Identify the gaps in previous research
  • Contact your supervisor or fellow students to get help with writing a dissertation structure
  • Create a layout of your dissertation
  • Start adding content to your dissertation structure

How to reduce plagiarism in my dissertation?

You can reduce plagiarism in your dissertation by properly paraphrasing and citing the research content. Ensure that you are using the correct citation and referencing method. In addition, you can use online plagiarism detection software to check the percentage of plagiarism in your dissertation.