Many young people are determined to get higher education to grow as professionals in their sphere and improve their chances at getting hired. SAT scores for undergraduate students at Key Stage 2 level show the extent of one’s preparation for challenges that educational establishments have in store, but in the end, everything depends on how thorough you’re going to be in your studies. Whether you’re a student of Barnsley University or a part of Oxford, you’ll have to write dissertations.
They help show your level of knowledge and freshness of perspectives. It entails conducting your own unique research and it is important for how you’re going to be viewed professionally. Dissertations are a great chance to demonstrate your potential to those who might provide you with useful connections. Few people know what it entails, though. So, what is dissertation structure and what sections does it have?
Basic Dissertation Layout
First thing you should know about layout is that rules vary for different UK universities. How long is a dissertation? Some unis ask for more sections, others might be interested in breaking bigger parts into smaller, but overall, basic rules stay the same. General structure of dissertation can be roughly divided into three sections.
First one includes smaller elements like cover page, acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, lists of figures, graphs, or abbreviations, and glossary if needed. Second one is text itself, the largest and most relevant section of the entire work. Third part comprises reference list and appendix. To get a deeper understanding of such format, let’s regard dissertation structure example with all details.
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Quick Structure Overview
Before writing, it’s important to plan everything thoroughly. For example, you should have a detailed outline that could help you remember what section should contain what piece of information. Having clear dissertation layout will make the whole writing process much easier.
- Cover page. This is a first page that reveals most crucial data to audience, such as your name, where you study and for which department you’re writing, name of your supervisor, and of course title. Be attentive here, though! Check template of your university for examples of front pages. Some might want you to indicate word count or include additional lines. To avoid having to retype cover page over and over again, ask for a sample in advance and replicate it. Cover page is not a structure section where you can deviate from rules and show creativity.
- Acknowledgments. This is structure section where you can express your gratitude to all who supported, helped, encouraged you during writing. Note that even though this part generally comes right after front page, it is better to write it last because your feelings may change. Speak about your loved ones, teachers, God, supervisor — anyone who affected the writing process one way or another.
- Abstract. It should be about 200-300 words depending on length and requirements presented by university. Remember that while abstract is pretty short, it is a crucial part of structure because this is where you point out a summary of your work. People determine whether they’re interested in it based on abstract. Briefly describe your topic, what you did, what for, which methods were used and what was achieved here.
- Table of contents. Dissertation structure involves chapters instead of more usual sections. Mention each chapter, its title and its subtopics along with page numbers. Appendix should be present as well. Make sure that page numbers in the table correspond to those in the text as it is common problem that requires constant re-printing.
- Tables. It is a complex work, so it is likely to involve figures and tables. They are used to enhance presented material and summarise data sets with a perfect structure. Check so page numbers would be correct again because any mistake may confuse and frustrate your audience. If any abbreviations were used, include them after tables and graphs.
- Glossary. It is optional. It depends on complexity of research, so clarify whether it should be a part of structure with your supervisor. Make an alphabetical list of complex terms that common audience will not be able to understand and provide concise explanations about their meaning.
- Introduction. Dissertation introduction is where you explain your topic and its relevance. It should feature research objectives, the ways to achieve them, as well as their overall and individual significance — for example, their meaning for target population. Then there should be mentions of what the already existing sources reveal about the selected topic and overview of structure. Don’t be too detailed here as introduction shouldn’t be overly long. Include all elements but do it briefly.
- Literature review. It’s a backbone of structure. First, pick only credible sources, those that’ll be truly useful in research, but don’t make a mistake by just summarising them. Evaluate them critically by pointing out their strengths, weaknesses, as well as objectives. Tell about their relevance for your research, then synthesise them together by drawing parallels, comparisons, etc. Most importantly, mention the gap of all these sources and state how your research has addressed it.
- Methodology. Dissertation methodology structure isn’t difficult but it has to be detailed. Write how you conducted your research in particular so everyone could see for themselves whether it is valid and trustworthy. Include type of research (for example, qualitative or quantitative, which are most common kinds), how data were collected (questionnaires, physical interviews, etc.), what methods and tools were used. Address problems you faced and justify all major decisions you’ve taken, such as why a specific population was chosen as sample, why this type of research was selected, and why data-collecting process was conducted like this.
- Results. Report findings in this chapter. What did the obtained data indicate? How did it support/refute your hypotheses? Include some graphs here so audience could see what you achieved. Make the meaning of your results structure section clear.
- Conclusion and discussion. Many students often wonder how to write dissertation conclusion without being repetitive. Solution is simple: focus on implications. Address results’ interpretation here and how they fit into existing research structure. Were your hypotheses confirmed? What does it mean in terms of this topic now? Provide recommendations and admit limitations of your work that future research could address. Conclude by emphasising your study relevance.
- Reference list. Depending on style (APA, Oxford, MLA, etc.), list all sources you’ve mentioned in text at least once. Remember, if source isn’t mentioned in any chapter, it cannot count as used so it’ll be marked as fake referencing. Write down all info so everyone could immediately identify these sources’ credibility.
- Appendix. This normally includes survey questions or interviews’ transcripts. Mention parts that helped in composing research but which aren’t enough to include them into main text. Detailed figures could also be present here.
Top Five Writing Tips
- Select interesting topic. True, you might be indifferent toward numerous academic topics, but there has to be something you will like. Twist it until it fits general research criteria and structure. You’ll be writing dissertation for a long time, so to avoid boredom and lack of quality, research something you’d genuinely like to know more about.
- Ask for help when needed. You might not know how to write a methodology or literature review. Google, consult with supervisor, look for samples. Be sure you understand all rules properly before writing something. It will save time considerably. Always focus on reliability. It is not a school essay where you could make up some bits or mix references with a sloppy structure in the hopes to be done sooner. Every word you write here must be valid, so research thoroughly, use credible sources, and be attentive when gathering data.
- Be realistic. Don’t pick goals you won’t be able to complete. Travelling and conducting physical interviews would be impressive but in most cases, it’s simply impossible due to complexity of such process. Being ambitious is great but reign in your imagination and stay grounded.
- Remember about relevance. This principle is crucial on every dissertation stage. Make sure research topic is relevant in modern terms. Justify every decision by proving its significance for a study. Constantly emphasise what new insights your work brings into selected field and how it enriches the existing literature sources on the topic. Follow the needed structure.
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