Dissertation Guidelines – General Guidance For Students


Starting with a dissertation is always challenging. It takes time and requires additional research to make things right regarding structure, methodology, obligatory sections, and the tiny elements that make one’s work stand out. The purpose of our dissertation guide is to provide students with basic dissertation guidelines to help them achieve success.

In basic terms, dissertation writing is a chance to work towards your degree by presenting a substantial piece of academic writing based on a provided or chosen subject that one explores. It is also the safest way to earn academic recognition and apply for various scholarships as you develop strong writing skills and challenge yourself with an interesting topic. As you work on your dissertation, make sure that you check relevant specifics of your programme as there may be additional requirements taking place that differ between the universities in the UK.
The General Purpose of a Dissertation


Regardless of your subject, your dissertation should aim for the following objectives:

– Clearly define and outline your academic research topic. 

– Provide a clear research question that is both unique and inspiring. 

– Identify various noteworthy issues and key arguments. 

– Present a list of sources and research information dealing with your subject. 

– Analyse and offer an unbiased opinion regarding data’s reliability. 

– Provide a piece of evidence and analysis based on all sides of an issue. 

– Offer a clear and thought-out conclusion with the most important outcomes listed. 

– Present your writing in a clear, logically laid-out, and proofread manner.


As a rule, a lot will depend on your dissertation type and methodology. For example:

– You are basing your research work upon complex empirical research, dealing with a subject or a problem that relates to Social Sciences, Education, or Healthcare.
– You choose a literature-based essay that implements a qualitative methodology method and focuses on an analysis of a certain question that relates to a more general issue or a field of science.

The challenging part with choosing your dissertation’s type is meeting the criteria of your course, credits, and university. Therefore, this section of your dissertation should always be discussed in advance as you form your research proposal.
How to Make Your Dissertation Stand Out


Here are the steps you must consider to make your dissertation successful as you aim to meet the highest academic writing benchmarks set by British colleges and universities:

Collect enough information for your topic and/or research question. The most important is to choose a subject that inspires you, something that you know really well because you will have to do more than just a superficial description of available data. It requires extensive research. For example, it requires a complex analysis of literature to base your dissertation on.

Choose your research methodology. This might be the most challenging aspect of writing a good dissertation as your methodology is your approach to the research question. The purpose here is to choose a conceptual method that will address your issue. It should provide evidence of the relationship between your theory and the way how exactly you are planning to conduct your analysis and synthesis of available information. As a rule, there may be several of them:

Empiricist, meaning the use of empirical evidence even for those cases when there is empirical evidence already mentioned in your sources. The purpose here is to use chosen evidence as a way to provide support for your arguments. It should also explain things in an objective way, depending on what medium is chosen.

Interpretive type dissertations meaning interpretation per se, as the name implies. It is based on an understanding of the social aspect of any research from the subjective point of view. In the majority of cases, the qualitative approach is used along with the samples section since there are surveys, interviews, and other methods of obtaining data involved.

Critical approach, as another methodology type, is mostly used for critique purposes where strong argumentation is added to analyse certain conflicts or imbalance of power in a certain field. It is almost always a clever mixture of empiricist and interpretive approaches.

Learn how to structure your dissertation. Even though your dissertation structure may change, depending on your university, subject, and course, there are still obligatory elements that should include: an abstract, table of contents, glossary and/or abbreviations section (if necessary), introduction with the research question, literature review, methodology with an explanation of your research methods, analysis of the findings, discussion of your subject and policies used, conclusion part, and the list of references and appendices.

Examine the length of your dissertation. How many words is a dissertation will always vary! For example, an MSc dissertation on subjects like Healthcare or Nursing usually varies from 5,500 to 6,000 words. If you choose other subjects like Linguistics, Psychology, or Sociology, dissertation writing is usually around 10,000 for the majority of British universities. Remember that bibliography and appendices are not counted towards the total dissertation word count.

Presentation matters. It is essential to present your dissertation correctly by using the layout according to your chosen writing style. It includes working with your headers and subheaders. At the same time, do not forget about tables and figures that must be properly numbered and referenced. It will help your readers understand your dissertation in a much clearer way. Avoid putting too much text on a single page by adding graphs or shorter paragraphs between the text portions. Always number your pages and use 1.5 or double-spaced text. The golden rule is to use one or two fonts (if necessary) to avoid confusion.

An inclusion of cited information or how to avoid plagiarism in a dissertation. It is vital to provide sources and citation information according to the chosen referencing system (APA, Harvard, MLA, or any other). It will help you to avoid plagiarism by giving credit where it is due.

Ask for help from your academic instructor/advisor. Do not forget to ask for help if you need consulting services from your academic instructor. Regardless if it is about your thesis statement or structure issues, asking for assistance or dissertation examples with templates is essential!

Research similar dissertations based on your subject. Explore similar research papers or read the information on your subject to receive sufficient knowledge before you start writing.

Set your submission deadlines. Always check your submission deadlines and set alerts to remind you about the critical dates or stages of your work. It will help to keep you focused as you avoid procrastination issues.

Work out the pros and cons of a chosen topic. Make sure that you receive consent as you collect information and do not put yourself at risk to obtain information, especially if you are dealing with controversial issues. Brainstorm your topic first and learn about intellectual property restrictions and every bit of information that may help you to choose the most fitting subject for your dissertation.

Follow strong research ethics. You must follow strong ethical standards and discuss every concern that you have with your academic advisor. It is an essential part of writing a successful dissertation.

Proofread and edit your dissertation’s sections twice. Take your time to proofread your dissertation aloud and edit it carefully to avoid grammar, spelling, style, and syntax issues. Remember that accuracy is the key because even a minor mistake can seriously deduct your grade.
The Use of Abbreviations and Acronyms

In case you are planning to use numerous abbreviations (like in Engineering or Data Science) for your dissertation, remember to provide a list of definitions as a glossary. The ABC-styled list of abbreviations must appear after your table of contents. If there are only 2-3 abbreviations, ignore this part by adding explanatory information within your text instead.
Regarding acronyms, it is recommended to explain the first occurrence in full and then continue with the use of abbreviations in parentheses.
If there are numerous abbreviations and information that needs explaining, add a glossary to your dissertation, sorted alphabetically. Once again, it is placed after your table of contents and after the list of abbreviations. The glossary is a more detailed explanation. It is also possible to add explanations as footnotes, especially in Chicago or Harvard styles. It may be more helpful and convenient in certain cases.


Table of Contents Dissertation Section

One of the most important features worth mentioning, as it is often ignored, is a dissertation title page, clear headings, sub-headers, and the page numbers that show where each part of your dissertation can be found.

The maximum length of your dissertation’s contents page should be two pages long. Consider including all level one and two headings and level three headings (only if it does not go beyond two pages).

Level one headings are sections like Introduction, Samples, Methodology, Literature Review, Research Objectives. Sub-sections of these are called “Level 2” headings. Anything that goes beyond that appears in Level 3 sections. For example:

Level 1 – Chapter 4. Samples
Level 2 – 4.1 Sampling Objectives
Level 3 – 4.1.1. Accuracy of Sampling Method

Make sure to double-check your page numbers to ensure that they are corresponding to actual pages in the dissertation document!