How to Structure a Dissertation? Dissertation Structure & Layout Rules

One of the most complex challenges that college students face when composing their dissertations is getting the structure right. But make sure not to neglect the proofreading aspect - you can always contact dissertation proofreading services for assistance. The majority of modern learners will know what it takes to structure a basic essay, yet dealing with a dissertation is much more difficult. Regardless of your subject, there are certain dissertation structure rules that must be followed for every case.

When you know how to structure things, you will instantly show your existing skills, and research ability, and will be able to focus on academic objectives and readability. The key is to develop a well-thought-out dissertation plan structure where one can see that you have done your research correctly and provided a summary of every point explored.

It will always influence the way your work will be approached by the academic committee. Therefore, dissertations provide a unique opportunity to express your potential and establish your learning process. The only problem is that very few college students actually know what it takes and how to structure a dissertation. Starting with the list of sections to things that must be followed, there is a lot of natural confusion that makes it complex. The purpose of this guide is to address every concern that you may have as you learn how to structure a dissertation.

Basic Dissertation Layout

We are often getting questions about the structure layout of a dissertation. Without a doubt, the rules will always vary depending on university. The most reoccurring question is: how long is a dissertation? The length will also depend on the number of sections and additional specifics that you might use.

In general, a dissertation of an undergraduate type can end up with 5,000 words or more. As it's one of the longest pieces to write, the range may be extended for the subjects like Sociology or Nursing where case study samples are added. In such a case, you may have up to 10,000 words for a Master's dissertation structure. The trick is to break down the large parts into smaller sections to keep the readability factor high.

The general structure, however, will have three major sections:

  • The first section must include important elements like your cover page, acknowledgements, an abstract page, table of contents, a list of figures and abbreviations used, and the glossary (if you find it necessary).

  • The second part is your dissertation's content, which includes your methodology, samples data, and all the main arguments that represent your work.

  • The third section is where you must include the references and an appendix section.

Now let’s review every section of a typical dissertation in detail!

Dissertation Structure Layout

Before you start writing, take your time to review every section and see what rules must be followed as you work on each section. An introduction outline could be helpful as you focus on what must be included in every part. When you have a clear dissertation layout, your writing process and the word count challenges will be addressed in an easier way.

Title or Cover Page

This must be the first page in your structure of a dissertation that reveals all the crucial data to your audience. It should include your name, educational institution, the school you are writing for, the name of your academic supervisor, and the title of your dissertation. The tricky part is that you must check with your university to ensure that you follow their template as there may be a different lines order or certain specifics. Some universities will ask to include your word count or add the words of gratitude as you write. Just ask them for a sample in advance and replicate what you see. The cover page is very important, which means that it must be a carbon copy with zero creativity.


This section requires an expression of your gratitude to every person who has provided support and helped you during the writing of this dissertation. Although this part comes after your front page, it's usually recommended to write it in the end as your thoughts and ideas may change. Talk about your family, academic advisors, God, and just anyone who has affected your ideas and the writing process.


In most cases, it takes about 200-300 words, depending on the total length and requirements. An 8000 word dissertation structure may have up to 500 words of an abstract. It is a crucial part of your structure and a reflection of your work. It gives your readers an opportunity to determine if your work is valuable and interesting. It's like a short description of the book where you talk about your subject, things you have explored, the reasoning, methodology, and what results have been achieved.

Table of Contents

Instead of the usual sections like in an essay, universities implement the use of chapters. Mention your title, subtopics, and page numbers to outline your structure. As for the appendix part, it must be present there as well. Make sure that page numbers correspond with the ones used in your text as things may move and you will have to print your dissertation again. As it's an essential part of the paper, check your navigation's accuracy once more upon completion.


The chances are high that you will include various figures and tables. These are used to add more context to your materials and summarise various data sets.


These are used after the tables of graphs. The general rule is to use abbreviations only when they are met more than twice per your text. Provide an explanation of the abbreviation first and use it only when necessary.


While this part is often optional, it all comes down to the complexity of your research. This matter must be clarified with your academic supervisor as you work on your dissertation structurestyle. In either case, create an alphabetic list of complex terms as you work. It will help your audience to better understand the meaning behind the concepts that have been used.


The dissertation introduction must explain the topic and show why it is relevant. Start by presenting your research objectives and the importance of your subject. Talk about how to achieve your research goals and show the value of your planned work. Mention the presence of various sources that relate to your subject by offering a brief overview and structure. Don't get too detailed for now as it shouldn't be too long!

Literature Review

It's what keeps your structure together as you research. Choose only credible and verified sources that have been helpful in your work. Avoid making a mistake by summarising what you have. Evaluate information critically and seek both strengths and weaknesses by remaining objective. The purpose is to talk about data’s relevance for your dissertation as you synthesise information and draw parallels, comparisons, and so on. Most importantly, talk about how these became helpful for your particular case.


Contrary to a popular belief, the dissertation methodology structure is not too complex because you can choose either a qualitative or quantitative approach. The most important is to keep things detailed! Explain how exactly you have conducted your research and prove that it is the most efficient and trustworthy method. Explain how the data has been collected (questionnaires, physical interviews, etc.), and talk about the methods and the tools that have been used. You must explain the problems that you have faced and justify the decisions that have been made as you worked on your dissertation. For example, tell why you've chosen a certain social group for your samples, why this type of research has been chosen, or why the data-collecting process has been challenging.


This is where you must report your findings. Ask yourself and answer the following questions: what did the obtained information indicate? How did it support or refute your main argument and research hypothesis? It's always helpful if you include statistical data and graphs in this dissertation chapter structure so your audience can see what has been achieved. Your dissertation results must be clear and readable. Make sure that there are no new ideas or assumptions being discussed in this section.


This section should provide information on the results of your research where you basically provide recommendations and talk about the limitations you have faced. It's where one must discuss what future research objectives must be considered.


University students often ask about how to write a dissertation conclusion without having to repeat all that has already been told before. The solution is rather simple: focus on the implications and talk about the results. Ask yourself: have my dissertation hypothesis been confirmed? Was it the right way to explore the subject?

References List

This section is paramount for your dissertation! Depending on the formatting style chosen (APA, Oxford, Harvard, Chicago, MLA, etc.), list all your sources that have been mentioned in your text. If a source is not mentioned anywhere, do not include it! Write down all the data available for each entry as it will help avoid plagiarism and make your sources more credible.


This includes survey questions, interview transcripts, and all types of materials that have been used for your research. However, a 10,000 word dissertation structure won’t count an appendix part into the word count. Talk about the elements that have been helpful for your dissertation writing but are too large to be included in the main body. Present all your detailed figures and additional explanations here, too.

Dissertation Writing Tips

  1. Choose an Interesting Topic. When something inspires you, it will always be reflected in your work. Brainstorm various ideas, seek good sources first, and determine what subjects make you want to research things deeper. This way the topic will feel motivating to you.

  2. Always Ask for Help When Necessary. You might not know how to write a methodology or literature review. Seek additional help online, talk to your supervisor, and ask for a dissertation structure template. Make sure that you understand what must be done before you start.

  3. Keep Things Readable. Readability is the key! Break down the lengthy paragraphs into smaller ones.

  4. Keep Things Realistic. Don't pick those goals that are not possible to achieve. Conduct a physical interview and collect your data in person (if possible) to maintain primary sources but stay grounded when focusing on your samples and data collection.

  5. Relevancy Matters. Make sure that each section remains relevant and that you are using only the latest information.

  6. Sources and Quotes. The sources must justify your decisions and be significant for your study. Focus on what certain quotes and references bring to your research and what exactly is contributed to your topic.

  7. Proofreading. Always proofread and edit your dissertation aloud as it's essential for keeping things accurate and structured.

Read also: Are you looking for dissertation help? Use our service.

We Can Help You With Your Dissertation Challenges

Once you learn about the main rules of dissertation structure and see the list of sections, writing challenges will become much easier. Still, if one considers the time that is required to get things done and all the researching that come along, you might think among the lines of, "it would be great if someone could do my dissertation for me." It's only natural to seek this kind of help because even if you are an excellent student, writing lengthy research easily becomes tiresome. Add a topic that is not your cup of tea and you have it!

Our friendly team at EduBirdie will happily assist you by composing a dissertation for you. We have experts with Master's degrees in numerous academic fields. Regardless of your subject and university, we shall find a writer to handle your needs. EduBirdie is a safe place to buy dissertation online. Don't hesitate to get in touch and place your order. We’ll follow your requirements and deliver a high-quality, plagiarism-free dissertation.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Related Blog Posts

Join our 150K of happy users

  • Get original papers written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order