While every college and university will have its own guidelines, and there may be some slight differences between the exact requirements for submitting a dissertation, for the most part the general format is pretty standard. Let’s take a look at some of the general requirements that you will need to fulfil when writing your dissertation.
Dissertation Title Page
One of the first things that you need to include with your dissertation is a title page. This is also the easiest part, so why not get that out of the way pretty early on in the process so that you can officially say that you have started work on your dissertation? Your title page will include the title of your dissertation, your full name, the name of they course you are studying and the name of your supervisor. Check with your college whether or not you have to include your word count or any contact information on the title page as well. These are not usually standard requirements, but some institutions do request them.
The next element of your dissertation is the abstract. However, you may choose to complete this as one of the last tasks, so initially you might want to just insert a placeholder page. The abstract is a summary or overview of your dissertation. It should be informative and descriptive, but it also needs to be brief. You should be aiming for between a third of a page and a half page. Since you are summarizing your entire dissertation, that is why we suggest writing the abstract towards the end of the process.
It is likely that you will want to thank some of the people who have supported you in completing your dissertation. This might include anyone who agreed to be interviewed or who helped with research. You would thank them briefly in your acknowledgements page.
Table of Contents
Your dissertation is more like a book than it is an essay and so you need to have a clear table of contents which details the individual chapters and sections. Some colleges also required a list of figures and tables.
The Dissertation Itself
Like every essay that you have written to date your dissertation needs to have an introduction that introduces your thesis and outlines the dissertation in brief. It also needs a conclusion which pulls all of the threads together and presents your finding. Between the two is the main body of your dissertation. Now as we have said, a dissertation is closer to a book than an essay, so your main body will contain chapters rather than paragraphs!
Bibliography & References
Every dissertation needs a bibliography and references list containing all of the resources that you have used. The Bibliography is a complete list of every resource that you have read during working on your dissertation whether you quoted directly from them or not. The references on the other had are a list of those sources you actually cite as evidence or quote from in your dissertation. References are usually more detailed. For example, in a bibliography you only need to list the title, author, date and publisher; however, the reference list would also require chapter names and page numbers.
It is possible that you have some information you want to include with your dissertation, but that would disrupt the flow if inserted in the main body. These go in appendices at the end of your dissertation. These might include things like transcripts, letters and questionnaires.
These are the general requirements for formatting your dissertation. However, it is important to note that some educational institutions do have some requirements of their own that they want students to follow. It is important that you check the exact instructions on formatting that your college or university issues you with for your dissertation. You can use these as a guide for initial drafts, but make sure you check the official guidelines before submitting your dissertation.