Dissertation Components – Meaning, forms/types, and 12 components of a Dissertation

Dissertation Meaning

The Oxford dictionary defines a dissertation as a long essay on a particular subject, especially one written for a university degree or a diploma. In other words, a dissertation can be defined as a form of research paper regarding a particular topic, it is often written by either undergraduate or postgraduate students.

To this, different schools can have different meanings for the concept of a dissertation. Whatever meaning or definition is given to a dissertation, the aim of a dissertation is to examine the degree of research-ability that the student has accumulated during the course of study at a designated institution.


In the overall field of Academia and academic writing as a whole, a dissertation is used for the following factors namely;

  • To give the reader more insight and knowledge regarding a particular subject matter.
  • To ascertain the research-ability of the student and assess the student based on it.
  • To introduce new ideologies and views regarding different issues to the field of academia.

TYPES OF DISSERTATION -Dissertation Components

The two forms of dissertations can be grouped under two broad subheadings namely: Empirical and Non-Empirical Dissertations.


An empirical dissertation is a form of a research paper written on the basis of evidence provided in both real-life experiences and similar source materials. In other words, this form of research paper report requires the use of scientific research, experiments and the collection of data to dispense or ascertain the writer’s view on a given subject matter. Dissertations written to obtain a degree in Psychology and other science-related disciplines belong under this veil.


A non-empirical dissertation, on the other hand, is a form of research paper that does not require the conduction of scientific research or experiments and collection of data as the basis for its creation. Instead, it focuses on the provision of past theories and arguments which would be critically examined, evaluated or discussed in the research paper. A case study is a candid example of such a type of dissertation.


Components in this context refer to the subheadings or subsections which make up a full-fledged dissertation. Hence, an idea and well-structured dissertation ought to consist of the following elements or components:


This is the first component of any form of PhD dissertation or research paper. The basic credentials or information required to be inputted on this page includes The title of the dissertation, the name of the writer, the writer’s supervisor and the name of the writer’s field of study. Depending on the nature of the dissertation and the rules in the institution, however, the credentials or basic information which the writer ought to provide could vary.


This part of the dissertation puts the overall chapters and subheadings included in the dissertation on one page. In order to avoid unnecessary mistakes. However, this part of the dissertation ought to be compiled after the writer is done with the construction and compilation of the research paper.


This section ought to include the title and page number of all the tables that are included in the dissertation.


Illustrations in this context refer to any form of pictorial representation of an item or a particular subject matter. Therefore, this section of the dissertation includes the title and page number of any pictorial representation of any item of any sort which is or will be used in the dissertation.


This list will contain an alphabetically arranged compilation of all the abbreviations which is or will be used in the dissertation.


An abstract is an overall summary of the contents of a dissertation or academic piece. Hence, this section will give out a brief overview of the contents of the dissertation to the reader or examiner. The quote ‘brief overview’ in this context could include a summary of the statement of the problem as well as its proposed solutions and the methods in which such solutions can be carried out. The abstract in a dissertation should has a maximum of 300 words.


This is the only section in a dissertation where the writer is permitted to provide personal information regarding his/herself. It includes a note of appreciation to the people or person who aided the writer during the course of writing the dissertation as well as his/her academic journey. Ideally, these people should include the writer’s parents or guidance, dissertation supervisors, lecturers, colleagues, acquaintances, friends and family. The mode in which this section will be arranged and placed in the dissertation, however, depends on the type and rules of the institution.


The introductory part of a dissertation is one of the most important sections of the research paper. This is so because whatever is written, compiled or summarized in it will ascertain the writer’s first impression or view regarding that particular paper. Hence, an introduction explains the background or historical overview behind the selected topic and the reason behind such assertion.

Similarly, the introductory part of a dissertation helps to identify the aims, objectives and limitations of the proposed subject matter. It should be noted that a dissertation ought to have an air of formality around it, hence, the writer should try as much as possible to avoid the use of personal stories or the overstatement of particular points in the paper. Like in an expository essay, the writer should stick to one point per paragraph.


The methodology and discussions section varies depending on the type of dissertation. The methodology section is developed as a means of fully discussing, examining or evaluating the statement of the problem posed in the dissertation. Based on the premises provided in this, the discussion and conclusion will be provided regarding the subject matter of the dissertation.

In the discussions sections, the findings provided in the methodology are related to the entire framework of the dissertation. If the result drawn from the end of this chapter is biased, the writer is permitted to give due reasons behind such bias.


This section sums up the entire dissertation project into a maximum of three to four pages. Hence, the conclusion section in a dissertation is relatively shorter in length compared to the other disciplines. It is also aimed at highlighting or producing recommendations regarding the way in which a proposed solution regarding an issue should be carried out. The aim of a conclusion is to fully stamp the understanding of the reader regarding that particular subject matter.


This section contains a total compilation of all the works cited in the dissertation. It can be arranged either alphabetically or numerically depending on the discipline to which the writer belongs as well as the type of university and its rules. For students who are unfamiliar with citations, this section will pose the most difficult. However, students are advised to keep proper track of the sources referred to during the course of the dissertation so that the compilation of the list of references or bibliography will not be mixed or fuzzy. Similarly, students are advised to get familiar with the different forms of citations beforehand.


An appendix list could consist of various elements such as a list of impossible words and their meaning, surveys, questionnaires as well as interview transcripts and so on. The general aim of an appendix list is to collect a large amount of data that was made use of during the course of writing the dissertation or research paper.


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