Creating a Master’s Dissertation Title

Following a recent blog on finding a research topic for a Master’s thesis, here is a blog with guidelines and tips on writing the Master’s Dissertation Title. It should help you choose a suitable dissertation title.

Here is a short video clip on the subject.

Academic Language

The dissertation presents you with an opportunity to write your own assignment question.

However, at Master’s level do remember that suitable academic language is required. Phrases such as “What is…” or “How are….” are simply not appropriate.

Master’s Levels Verbs

Blooms Taxonomy should help you appreciate verbs suitable for Master’s Level research. Lower level verbs such as:

  • To Know
  • To Understand
  • To List

are at a high school standard. Students are encouraged to review Blooms Taxonomy and look for verbs at the ‘Analyse’ and ‘Evaluate’ levels.

Higher Level verbs such as:

  • Compare
  • Evaluate
  • Justify
  • Critique
  • Assess

are good verbs to use in the dissertation title.

Verbs will be important when you are writing the project objectives, so some research into a list of suitable verbs at this point is beneficial.

Title Breadth and Depth

The dissertation for an MSc needs to demonstrate technical expertise. This means that the title should not be too broad. Broad research will be unachievable by a single student in a restricted time-frame. However, the research should also not be too narrow and specific, as this may make the topic difficult to collect the exact and correct data.

In general, research at a national level, or company level, may be too broad. However, looking at how one company operates from a particular site or country, in a particular topic area, may narrow the research sufficiently.

MSc and MBA

When considering the breadth and depth, don’t forget that an MBA dissertation must be broader, and set the project in the context of the business. Whilst the MSc should display technical expertise. I wrote a blog on the differences between MBA and MSc study here.


MBA or MSc

How Long Should the Dissertation Title Be?

The title should not exceed 1 sentence, and any more than 2 lines when typed into the computer with a normal font may be too long. As long as the research is well defined by a short title, then it is probably OK.

The title should not include “and” or use two verbs e.g. “Compare and Evaluate”. Look for ways of deleting words without affecting the meaning of the research project.

No acronyms should be used in the title, always expand acronyms to their full text. e.g. TQM should be written as Total Quality Management. There is no need to include (TQM) after the text.

Avoiding Bias in the Dissertation title

You need to have an open mind when performing your research. A title that starts:

“An examination into the reasons for failure…….”

is already biased towards the results. In the same way:

“An evaluation into the success of TESLA Automotive”

is also biased. Start with a neutral title, and allow your dissertation to prove the failure or success from the literature review, the analysis, the discussion and the conclusions. Remember, that although the News Media can use provocative titles, and social media encourages clicks by using startling headlines, the dissertation is an academic document, and needs to be presented from a neutral viewpoint.

Examples of Master’s Dissertation Titles

I have a downloadable list of titles that I have supervised. I am not commenting here on if these titles are suitable, after all, students can listen to, and then choose not to take my advice! Many of these titles were taken from initial proposals, and are not the final submitted title of a dissertation. The list can be found on my resources download page.

Refining a project title requires you to think about the verb, the correct use of academic language, be not too long, include no acronyms, and be careful to avoid bias. Hopefully this blog with give you some ideas about the format of a dissertation title.

Posted On: 30th September 2017

Join the conversation