Dissertation Structure - A Step by Step Format Guide

dissertation structure

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 or you are unsure about 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.

How to Structure a Dissertation?

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.

Also, the dissertation structure is provided by the supervisor, 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 given are some elements that will help you to structure different types of dissertation.

Let us discuss these elements in detail.

Title Page

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 is an acknowledgment to those who helped you write the dissertation. It might include supervisors, parents, friends, funding agencies, or any other person that supported you in writing the thesis.


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 cover 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 should 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

In this section, you list all your 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 of 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 research 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 must 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)

Dissertation Structure Introduction

Literature Review

The literature review is the main part of the dissertation. To write a good literature review, 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 that will help you to 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 does the previous research will 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)

Dissertation Structure Literature Review


The 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.

Methodology Dissertation Structure (PDF)

Methodology Dissertation Structure


The findings produce the results of the research methodology. 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 presented 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 about the research question.


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

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


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

  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • Transcripts
  • Scholarly artifacts

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

Dissertation Structure Template (PDF)

Dissertation Structure Template

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Dissertation Examples

Here are some examples that will guide you better in writing the dissertation.

Masters Dissertation Structure Example (PDF)

Masters Dissertation Structure Example

Law Dissertation Structure Example (PDF)

Law Dissertation Structure Example

Psychology Dissertation Structure Example (PDF)

Psychology Dissertation Structure Example

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Tips for Writing the Dissertation

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

  • Write the rough draft first.
  • Spend time in the data collection phase.
  • When you are stuck in writing some section, move further.
  • Use an easily readable font.
  • Gather data from credible and reliable sources.
  • Consult your instructor and understand their requirements.
  • Check the word count.
  • Write all the dissertation chapters in the correct format.
  • 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.

Now, you understand the proper dissertation or thesis structure but need professional help, consult GradSchoolGenius.com. We offer top-notch dissertation writing services for all types of academic levels.

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