Dissertation writing is an integral part of the academic journey. Every student has to submit a long-form academic paper by the end of their degree to earn it. In the UK, a dissertation has much significance and is presented as a huge milestone signifying a student’s success with years of study and research. Although a dissertation holds such value in the achievement of the academic journey it is not an easy task and many students end up failing it miserably. 

In the face of this predicament, dissertation writing services have started to gain popularity among UK students. Even though students are assigned advisors to help them in their dissertation writing journey it is observed that more often than not their assistance is not enough leaving students on their own. Despite having them students still struggle with multiple steps of dissertation writing and might consider seeking help from dissertation writing services to overcome their challenges.

What is a Dissertation?

Before we indulge in understanding the components of a dissertation first you need to know what a dissertation is. It’s a research project assigned to students as the last piece of work to earn their degrees. Comprised of multiple chapters including introduction and conclusion, it is an original academic paper that digs deep into a specific topic and thoroughly investigates a specific research question or problem. Dissertations require profound skills of in-depth analysis, critical thinking, and contribution to the existing literature within a particular field.

Dissertations are typically undertaken by students ranging from undergraduate level to postgraduate aiming to showcase their research skills acquired in the duration of their degree program and contribute to their respective fields of study. Students usually get assigned an advisor to help them successfully complete this intricate task, but this project aims to assess students’ independent capabilities.

The significance and complexity of the dissertation paper make it the most difficult academic task a student has to do in their academic journey requiring months or even years of hard work. However, this can be very rewarding if you choose a topic that interests you. 

Key Components of a UK Dissertation

The primary purpose of a dissertation is to demonstrate a student’s ability to conduct independent research, apply scholarly methodologies, and contribute new insights or knowledge to their field. It allows one to delve deeply into a specific research topic, explore unanswered questions, challenge existing theories, and propose innovative ideas. A dissertation also showcases a student’s analytical and critical thinking skills, ability to synthesise complex information and aptitude for effective communication. 

The formatting of the dissertation is quite significant and you should pay close attention to the structure so that you can organise your dissertation to the best quality. In order to reach the pinnacle of quality you must know what each section is supposed to be and have a clear understanding of how to write and format each section. Here we have described each section in detail to help students struggling with their dissertations.

Title Page

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page.

The title page is often used as a cover when printing and binding your dissertation.

Acknowledgements

The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

Abstract

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. Briefly summarize the study’s objectives, methods, findings, and recommendations. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract.

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Table of Contents

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word. Provide an organized overview of the dissertation’s contents.

List of Figures and Tables: If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list. You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

List of Abbreviations: If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

Glossary: If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary. List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

Introduction

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic, giving the necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions, and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction. Set the context, explain the aims, introduce the research question, and outline the research objectives.

Literature Review

Before you start your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework, in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section, you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables. Assess relevant literature, theories, and existing research to establish a knowledge gap and justify the study’s significance.

Methodology

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convince the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives. Detail the research design, methods, data collection, and analysis techniques employed.

Results

Next, you report the results of your research. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section, it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written – they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text. Present and interpret the findings, accompanied by visual aids, such as graphs, tables, and charts

Discussion

The discussion is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. 

It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results. The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action. Analyze and interpret the results in relation to the research question and literature review, highlighting their implications and limitations

Conclusion

The conclusion of your dissertation should be concise while answering the main research question. It should leave the reader with a clear understanding of the main idea of your research, your scope, and the central argument. Wrapping up your dissertation you should reflect on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion does not only reflect back to your research but often also includes recommendations for research or practice as well. In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Summarize the key findings, discuss their broader implications, and suggest future research possibilities.

References

A reference list also called as a bibliography, contains full details of all sources, articles, or websites that have been cited in your academic paper. Universities often provide guidelines for formatting style for the reference list which is highly crucial to follow. Make sure your entire reference list follows a consistent reference style, as failing to do so might result in the loss of credibility of your paper. There are a number of referencing styles and each has minor differences that make them unique. These styles come with strict guidelines to format sources used in the reference.

Out of all the referencing styles, the most commonly used ones in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing. Moreover, every discipline has its own specific guidelines for referencing – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style, humanities students often use MHRA, and law students always use OSCOLA. Make sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

There are many tools and techniques to automate this process and save a lot of your precious time creating the reference list and making sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted. These tools ensure the consistent formatting of each reference and citation you use in your document.

Appendices

While researching for your dissertation you gather many information to support your arguments but it is not necessary to add everything in the main body of your dissertation. Only add essential information that directly contributes to support and answer the hypothesis and research questions of your thesis. Any other document that you have gathered during research and have used in your paper by any means but can not fit in the main body of your dissertation gets added as appendices at the very end of your document. These documents include interview scripts of human subjects, survey questionnaires, lists of figures, tables, charts, or any supplementary data. 

Once you’re done writing different parts of your dissertation, the time is to edit and proofread your final draft. Make sure that you spare enough time to check your final draft and make the desired changes. Sentence structure, grammatical mistakes, sloppy errors, language mistakes, typos, and other inconsistencies should receive special attention to ensure that your hard work pays off in the right direction.

Conclusion

Every component of the dissertation is essential and has significance in the successful production of a top-quality dissertation. Each element of a dissertation requires students to have proper skills, in-depth knowledge, relevant research, appropriate formatting, and polishing of the text. Make sure you follow the preferred formatting guidelines of your institute diligently ensuring each chapter is in the right order and place. Also, it is always beneficial to have a fresh mind to analyze your project before the final submission, thus refer your friends or family for the same.

Writing a dissertation is complex and requires you to cover your entire concept. Due to the atrociousness of the task, scholars tend to accidentally skip a significant part of the dissertation while writing. The key is to tackle the project stage by stage and you’ll achieve the desired results in no time. It is a guarantee that your dissertation will become one of the greatest achievements of your academic career so, take pleasure in the journey of your accomplishment and you’ll definitely look back with pride.