You don’t want to miss anything out of your Master’s dissertation, or get anything in the wrong order, so this blog will look at what is required to be present in a good dissertation. It will outline the components, and a chapter structure for the master’s dissertation, which could also be used for an undergraduate final year project.
Here is a short video clip on the subject.
Templates and Examples
Check with your institution to see if you can download a template to cover all of the things I am about to mention. Maybe you will only be provided with a cover page, but if your institution requires it, then use it! You may also have access to example dissertations previously submitted at your institution. These examples and templates should over-ride my comments in this blog.
Use of Microsoft WORD.
Learn how to use Microsoft WORD properly. This is my number 1 tip for Master’s students. Things to look out for include:
- Creating Sections (to change page numbering)
- Using Headers (for navigation and automatic tables)
- Adding Numbering Systems
- Inserting Tables of Contents (also for table of tables, tables of figures etc.)
Learning these tips and tricks early will allow you to concentrate of writing the dissertation rather than fight with WORD!
The First Section
Here is what should be in the first section:
- The Cover Page with approved institution logo. This will be without any page numbers, but will include the title, student name, and ID number.
This is the first thing that people will look at in your dissertation, so get it right!
The Second Section
This is a new section because this will begin the page numbering with roman numeral i. Here is what should be present in this section:
- Declaration of Originality – Similarity Software Check – your institution may have some approved words that must be used
- The Abstract – I have a separate blog on abstract writing
- Table of Contents – automatically generated and updated by Microsoft WORD from the headings. Limited to three levels if required
- List of Tables – automatically generated and updated by Microsoft WORD
- List of Figures – automatically generated and updated by Microsoft WORD
- Table of Appendices – automatically generated and updated by Microsoft WORD
- Glossary of Abbreviations/Acronyms.
Make sure that your supervisor is happy with this structure and sequence, but I believe it to be correct and comprehensive.
The Third section
A new section is required here because this will now be page 1 of the dissertation. The usual dissertation chapters will be:
- Introduction with Aims and Objectives
- Literature Review
- Research Methodology
- Presentation of Case Study or Results (Stated facts without analysis or discussion)
- Analysis/Comparison of results
- Discussion – Critical Evaluation
- Conclusion, Limitations, Recommendations, Further Work
I have linked these to blogs I have written on each topic as appropriate. You can change these chapters slightly. I have seen a literature review in two separate chapters covering different essential knowledge, and two or three case studies may each own a separate chapter.
The Fourth Section
A new section in WORD because again the page numbering changes back to roman numerals starting at i. This section should include:
- References – those references that have been cited in the dissertation
- Bibliography – items you have read but not cited in the dissertation
- Ethical Approval
- Project Management of the Project – important if there is a mark for this element
- Case Studies/Questionnaires/Interview verbatim etc.
Taken together, these four sections should be everything that you would expect to find in a Master’s Dissertation.
Learning how to use WORD properly greatly assists the development of the dissertation. Ensure that you have all the relevant sections and content for a comprehensive dissertation.