The Structure of a Master’s Dissertation: A Step-By-Step Guide
If spending months researching and writing a master’s dissertation wasn’t stressful enough, there’s also the challenge of properly structuring a dissertation so that it receives the highest marks with your graduate committee and sets you up for your professional career. Good structure doesn’t come easy to everyone, so we’ve developed a few guidelines for you to follow:
The title page should include the title of your work, an acknowledgement that the work is a fulfilment of the requirements towards your master’s degree, the month and year of submittal and your name.
Table of Contents
Some disciplines and universities require that the table of contents be placed after the acknowledgments page, so it’s important that you check with your department to be sure. Your table of contents should have a list of all sections, chapters, and sub sections.
Your acknowledgments page includes a short paragraph that can include your professors, supervisors, tutors, specialists or anyone that has been important in your academic career and more specifically towards the completion of this work.
Your abstract is 250 to 350 word summary of the essence of your dissertation. This includes your methodologies, results and your conclusion. It’s a good idea to practice drafting and re-drafting this content to ensure you provide all the information you need.
Your introduction sets out to provide the reader with your aims and objectives, the context in which your work fits, a detailed exegesis of your title, your hypothesis or thesis and any questions you hope will be answered with your work.
This section simply outlines the previous work on your topic or related topics that are of concern to the work you are presenting. This establishes your research within the context of empirical works that already exist in academics.
This section is to layout the research methods you planned and conducted in your work. There are a number of acceptable methodologies and it’s to your benefit to check with your advisor for recommendations.
Findings and Discussions
Your research method will determine whether you treat these as two separate sections or treat them as a single section. Either way they will represent the meat of your entire dissertation. This is where you will present your evidence, data, tables, and any other pieces of information necessary to present your argument.
Your conclusions should be straight to the point and relatively short. In it you should revisit all of your research questions and provide simple summary statement of how it all relates to your original thoughts on the topic.
Your bibliography should be pretty self-explanatory at this point in your academic career. You will list all of the citation information for every resource cited in your research. Check a style guide to ensure you provide the correct information in the correct order.