Dissertation Structure Guidelines

Dissertation Structure Guidelines

Dissertation Structure Guidelines


It will be important to set some broad guidelines and ground rules as well as highlighting the dissertation structure that your supervisors would like their students to adhere to. Suffice to say these issues have already been highlighted and discussed with you in detail in your PRISM unit.


In summary, when you start working on your dissertation and develop your thinking and findings a bit more, you may wish to have a chat with your supervisor; a call or Skype or using some other online tool. Also a good idea to send your supervisor your chapters as you complete them so that they can provide their comments as you make progress on other chapters. However please consult your supervisor if he/she wishes to consider an alternative approach.


There is a document called Assessment Guidelines on this Moodle site that gives a very brief outline of the suggested chapters involved in your dissertation and an idea of the number of words that are usually expected in each chapter.


In the meantime, as far as your dissertation structure is concerned, let us just remind you that as a general rule, we would suggest the following chapters and sections for your thesis.



A clear, concise statement of the topic.



The abstract is a summary of the whole dissertation. It presents all the major elements of your work in a highly condensed form. Maximum of 500 words.

– Contents page:

clearly describing chapters and any sub-sections and related page numbers.

 – Acknowledgement – Chapter 1 –

Introduction: You need to set the scene for your dissertation, tell a story by providing some background to the importance of your chosen subject. You should also make your aims and objectives of the report very clear, by for example providing half a dozen bullets clearly describing what you have in mind and what you wish to explore.

You should clearly state your “Research Question (s)” and state why your research is important, what is the research gap, how it contributes to the body of knowledge and potentially it’s significance to the practitioner’s world, and, what benefit will be achieved in carrying out your chosen piece of work.

 – Chapter 2 –

Literature Survey (LR): This is a very important part of your dissertation (particularly if you only rely on acquiring secondary data and body of knowledge). The aim will be for you to provide robust and credible literature relating to the subject matter.

Use of some models/frameworks is encouraged. You will also get a better mark by providing a sound critic in your LR, i.e. what you agree with and what you don’t, and, the reasons behind your argument/rationale.

 – Chapter 3 –

Research Methodology: Here you should describe the methodology used in gathering the data and information. You should make reference to both the primary, if any, (interviews, questionnaire, case study …) and, secondary research methods (literature review and library based work…).

You should also describe any ethical considerations, potential constraints or drawbacks associated with the methodology, such as small sample groups, confidentiality, commercial sensitivity etc ….

 Chapter 4 –

Results and discussions: Clearly presenting results of your primary data – interviews, questionnaires etc …) and analyse them fully. It is sometimes useful to use charts or diagrams to present the results. We would also like you to discuss what the results mean and their potential implications on the company and/or chosen sector.

– Chapter 5 –

Conclusions: A comprehensive appraisal and summary of the key outputs of the report and its findings. Has the report gone some way in addressing the main aims and objectives of the dissertation which were highlighted in your Introductions chapter? What the results mean and the potential implications.

 – Chapter 6 –

Recommendations for future work. Providing tangible recommendations on how a company and/or sector could implement your findings and its potential implications, and, what further research could be undertaken to explore the subject matter in more detail.

 – References:

Please provide all references (library and web based material) in the usual APA 6 referencing format.

– Appendices:

Provide any additional information in particular relating to the company and/or chosen sector in the Appendices.


Finally, let’s also highlight a number of other important ground rules that you should adhere to and be aware of:

· All supervisors have been allocated limited time to supervise their dissertation students; as you know we have a very large cohort on this Master programme; more than 250 students on the cohort.

· Unfortunately we cannot accept drafts during the last two weeks before submission. Modify the time as desired.

· We will be able to give only one feedback per chapter.

· Remember every dissertation must have a signed ethics form included before your final submission; see attached document explaining how you should complete the latter and a copy of the form itself.

· The dissertation marking form is already placed on the Dissertation Moodle site which you may find useful – an Excel file called “Assessment Guidelines”.

· One more important issue to bear in mind, the word count for your dissertation is around 12,000. The attached excel provides you with our assessment criteria and some good ideas relating to the suggested word count for either the “library based” (mainly secondary data and LR) or “investigatory” (primary and secondary data) reports.