At Master’s level, the longest piece of writing a student in his academia ever has to write and submit as a part of his degree is a masters dissertation. A dissertation is based on the original research done by the student.
Before proceeding to write a dissertation, the first and foremost thing to know is its format. Every field of study demands its own prescribed format for a masters dissertation but usually, a general format for a dissertation is divided into at least six chapters. In this article, we’ll present the general format of a masters dissertation and its layout.
Common Dissertation Format for Masters Degree:
Let’s begin with the core chapters of a most common masters dissertation format. The core chapters are the soul of any dissertation and are marks giving chapters as well. They are mentioned and discussed below:
- The first chapter of the masters dissertation i.e introduction, includes the research questions, research aims, scope of the study, methodology to be adopted, and the format of the dissertation.
- The second chapter of the masters dissertation i.e literature review assesses what the current research says about your topic and what & how your research will contribute.
- The third chapter of the masters dissertation, i.e methodology, answers ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about your research.
- The fourth chapter of the masters dissertation, i.e results, presents and describes the data.
- The fifth chapter of the masters dissertation, i.e discussion, interprets and analyzes the results.
- The sixth chapter of the masters dissertation, i.e conclusion chapter is all about answering the question on which the entire research is based.
Let’s go into the specifics of each section and chapter now that the main points of the chapters have been discussed.
The title page of your masters dissertation is the first page that readers or graders see and remember. It ought to be brief, precise, and representative. Your name, your course of study, your department, your institution, and the date of dissertation submission are all listed on the title page. You can get masters dissertation help from a good firm if you are facing any issues.
You might thank those who assisted you in finishing your dissertation by mentioning their names in the acknowledgments section. The names might be those of your supervisors, study subjects, acquaintances, or family members—anyone who offered support throughout your career. Be succinct, and precise, and avoid using excessive wordiness in this part.
An Executive Summary or Abstract
The dissertation’s abstract gives readers a general view of the whole thing. It’s a condensed version of your dissertation. Typically, this summary is between 150 and 300 words long. Abstracts are provided for the main subject, objectives, research questions, findings, and conclusion. It is advised to write the abstract last, after the remainder of the dissertation has been finished.
Include a table of contents with a list of all your chapters, subheadings, and page numbers. The contents page of your dissertation aids in easy navigation and provides the reader with an idea of your structure. The table of contents of your dissertation should list every section, including the appendices.
Figures and Tables List
In your dissertation, if you used a lot of tables and figures, you should lay them out in a numbered list.
A List of Acronyms
You can create a list called the list of acronyms that contains the definitions of the abbreviations you commonly used in your dissertation. This list will help the reader to take reference.
Including a glossary may be a good idea if you employ several highly technical terminologies that your reader is unlikely to be familiar with. Describe each term with a succinct description or definition before listing them alphabetically.
Your dissertation’s topic, aim, and significance are introduced at the outset, and you also inform the reader of what to expect from the remaining sections. The introduction of masters dissertation should:
- Declare your study area while giving the necessary background information to put your work in perspective.
- Narrow the research’s focus and define its domain.
- Describe the present state of the research on the topic while highlighting how your work adds to a wider problem or discussion.
- Clearly state your objectives, research questions, and strategy for answering them.
- Describe your dissertation’s structure in just a few words.
- Contain only clear, intriguing information that relates to your research.
Literature Review / Theoretical Framework
An extensive comprehension of the scholarly work that has already been done on your issue should have been attained by a literature study before you began your research. It includes assembling information, analyzing it critically, establishing connections between it, and developing the main argument.
Instead of just summarising previous research, you should build a logical structure and argument in the dissertation literature review chapter or section that serves as a solid foundation or explanation for your research.
Your reader can evaluate the validity of your research by reading the methodology chapter or section of your masters dissertation, which explains how you carried out your research. Typically, you should mention:
- The general strategy and kind of study (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
- Your data collection techniques (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
- Information on the study’s location, timing, and participants
- Your approaches to data analysis (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
- Your equipment and supplies (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
- A summary of any challenges you encountered and how you overcame them while completing the study
- An assessment or defense of your techniques
The objective of the methodology section is to accurately describe the procedures you followed and persuade the reader that this was the most effective approach for achieving the study’s goals or objectives.
You then present your research findings. This section can be organized around certain subjects, hypotheses, or sub-questions. Report findings only if they are pertinent to your goals and research questions.
Tables, graphs, and charts are frequently beneficial to add to the results section. Think carefully about the best way to present your data, and avoid using tables or figures that simply summarise what you have written. Instead, they should offer additional details or help your readers better understand the results.
In the discussion, you should examine the significance and implications of your findings in light of your research questions. Here, you should provide a thorough interpretation of the findings, addressing whether they lived up to your expectations and how well they complemented the framework you developed in prior chapters. Explain any unexpected outcomes and any potential causes if any were found. It’s a good idea to address any restrictions that might have affected the results and take into account different interpretations of the data.
To demonstrate how your findings align with previously published research, the discussion should cite other academic works. You can also suggest directions for additional study or actual action.
The dissertation’s conclusion should briefly respond to the primary research question and leave the reader with a clear understanding of your main point. Finish your dissertation with a final analysis of your actions and methods. Recommendations for further study or application are frequently included in the conclusion.
It’s crucial to demonstrate how your research advances knowledge in the subject and why it’s significant in this part. What have you added that was previously unknown?
Reference List / Bibliography
It is necessary to include a reference list with comprehensive information about all the sources you cited. Maintaining a consistent reference style is crucial. The format for your sources in the reference list must adhere to strict guidelines that are unique to each style.
Only crucial details that directly address your research issue should be included in your dissertation itself. You can include documents you’ve used as appendices if they don’t fit in the main body of your dissertation (for example, interview transcripts, survey questions, or tables with all the data).
I hope this post has made it clear to you how a general masters dissertation is laid out and structured.