Structure of a dissertation -6 parts of a dissertation you must know

Structure of a dissertation -6 parts of a dissertation you must know

Wondering how many chapters makes up a dissertation or thesis? There are 6 main parts in the structure of a dissertation. A dissertation or a thesis, as it is often regarded in some countries, is a research project which ought to be completed as a part of an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree (Masters, MBA, PhD among others).

The aim of a dissertation is to test the research ability of the student as well as the degree of understanding that a student may have for a particular topic in his/her field of discipline.

What is the structure of a dissertation?

An ideal dissertation has five main chapters, these chapters include 6 main parts:

  • Introduction
  • Review of related Literature.
  • Methodology.
  • Results and Analysis.
  • Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation.
  • References or Works Cited.


The introductory part of a dissertation may consist of the following subheadings:

  • Background of Study:

Simply put, a background of study provides a general overview of the dissertation topic. In this section of the research, the writer may provide any historical data relating to the topic, different theories, concepts, terms or ideas which may be associated with the research topic and the field of study, and different concepts relating to the research topic which may have been borrowed from other disciplines and may require the explanation of the reader.

  • Problem Statement:

The aim of the problem statement is to provide a general overview of the issues which will be discussed in the dissertation, the background of these issues and who these issues may affect.

  • Research Aim and Objectives:

This section can be regarded as the main focus of the dissertation or thesis. The aim of the research is simply what the researchers hope to achieve from conducting the desired research. The research objectives, on the other hand, are the necessary actions the researcher should take to achieve the aim(s) provided.

  • Significance of Study:

The significance of the study is simply a compilation of the reasons relating to the importance of the assigned topic. In this section, it is the duty of the researcher to state the impact which the research may have in his/her field of study, the necessary contributions that the research may add to the field as well as a list of benefactors and how these people will benefit from the research.

  • Limitation and Scope of Study:

The scope of the study can be regarded as the extent or areas that the research hopes to cover. The limitations of the study, on the other hand, can be regarded as the areas of shortcomings which may be associated with particular research.

  • Definition of Terms:

This section is simply a definition and compilation of the keywords which will be used in the research. The keywords ought to be closely related to the research topic and, these words are often arranged in alphabetical order.

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Literature Review

Simply put, the aim of a literature review is to provide a survey of past scholarly work like articles, books, journals and so on which relate to the dissertation topic. Hence, the core purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Increase the researcher’s knowledge relating to that particular field of study.
  • Provide opposing viewpoints relating to the subject matter.
  • Discover valid research methods which may be useful to the research.

During the course of the literature review, it is the duty of the writer to provide an in-depth definition of the subject matter, provide the relevant theories relating to this subject matter as well as the reason why these theories are relevant. The sub-headings under the literature review tend to vary depending on the topic being researched.


In a dissertation, it is important to provide an explanation relating to the research method used in research and why these methods were used. This is the job of the methodology section in a dissertation. In other words, the methodology chapter of the dissertation ought to include;

  • The type of research which was conducted during the course of the dissertation.
  • How the information relating to the subject matter was collected
  • How the data was examined and,
  • The tools or materials used during the course of the research(if any) and,
  • Why the research method was selected?

There are different research approaches or methodologies which can be used in research, it all depends on the research topic and research discipline.

Results and Analysis

The analysis section provides the findings of the dissertation which was derived from the research methodology and examines it. These findings ought to be provided in a logical sequence without any form of bias from the writer. Hence, the following information is provided in the results and analysis section:

  • A representation of information relating to the research in charts, tables and other forms of diagrams
  • An analysis explaining the meaning of the provided representation.
  • The secondary findings or outcomes of the provided research
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In a situation where the research topic is broad and the findings are vast, it is the writer’s duty to provide and analyze only the results most relevant to the research topic.

Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion

As its name implies, the aim of this section is to provide a brief summary of the research, the recommendations or ways to rectify or improve the subject matter and a brief conclusion of all that was stated in the dissertation. During the course of this section, it is the duty of the writer to re-state the objectives of the research and identify the ways in which these objectives were fulfilled in the research and the ways in which these objectives can be further evaluated.

References Or Works Cited

The aim of this section is to provide a long list of all the scholarly works that were consulted during the course of the research. This section is important because it adds credibility to the work and avoids all forms of plagiarism. The referencing mode in this section and in the whole research tends to vary from discipline to discipline. Hence, it is the duty of the writer to figure out the referencing style which matches his/her discipline and apply it to the research. However, the basic forms of referencing styles are Bluebook, APA and MLA.



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