A dissertation is a lengthy piece of writing which has to be written by a student as a part of their university course. It is an essential part of the course, and it can also determine the final grade. Usually, it involves independent research on a particular topic, and students have to develop an original concept that adds value to their course.
The length of the dissertation depends upon many factors, including the complexity of the question and how much new information you have added to your subject area by conducting your research.
In general, dissertations are about 10,000 words long. However, some students may be asked to submit 20,000 or 30,000-word dissertations if they are studying for doctorate degrees or if their courses require them to develop their work further to make a valuable contribution to their field of study.
How long is a dissertation
The word “dissertation” itself can be daunting to many people. It’s long, challenging, and provides the groundwork for your entire academic career. But how long is a dissertation? The obvious answer is that it varies depending on what subject you study, with subjects like history or philosophy requiring longer dissertations than subjects like math or physics.
When we talk about dissertation length, we generally mean the length of a Masters’s dissertation in the UK and US – though this will depend on which universities you look at. They generally expect 50-100 pages (12,500-30,000 words), though other institutions do have higher expectations.
The length also depends on several factors, including but not limited to what committee members want out of their candidates’ work. However, as noted above, most average anywhere from 10-20k word count depending on the topic area being studied (some areas like math require significantly less writing than, say, history or English where one might have something closer towards 30k+ in terms.
What are the types of dissertations?
Dissertation types vary according to the graduate program and major. Below is a list of the various types of dissertations, along with an explanation of each:
- Qualitative Dissertation: A qualitative dissertation methodology involves using qualitative research methods to draw out the participants’ views on a subject matter through observations, interviews, and statistics. In such dissertations, you’re given more freedom regarding your approach and writing style.
- Quantitative Dissertation: For quantitative dissertations, you’ll need to use statistical analyses and mathematical reasoning in conducting your research. This type of dissertation also requires a lot of accuracy in measurement and computation for you to come up with concrete results at the end of your study.
- Mixed Methods Dissertation: As its name suggests, this combines both qualitative and quantitative elements into one research project. This type can be used by students who want to utilize both approaches in their dissertations but can’t decide which approach would be more appropriate for their study topic or which results they would like to emphasize during their presentation.
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What are the dissertation components?
The dissertation paper structure is as follows:
- Dissertation proposal
- Dissertation abstract
- Dissertation introduction
- Dissertation literature review
- Dissertation methodology
- Dissertation results
- Dissertation discussion
- Dissertation conclusion
What is an average dissertation length? The common length of each part
The common length of a dissertation varies by discipline. The average length of a biology dissertation is often around 40,000 words, whereas the average for history dissertations tends to fall between 15,000 and 20,000 words.
As your field will determine the average length of your dissertation (and if you’re studying at a university that requires you to publish a dissertation as part of your degree program), it’s important to ensure that you familiarize yourself with the conventions in your discipline from day one. As these may differ from field to field, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your supervisor or other Ph.D. students in your department about what an appropriate word count looks like for you.
1. How long should a dissertation proposal be?
The length of a dissertation proposal differs between degrees. However, most are around 2000 words in length. This can vary depending on the type of dissertation you are writing.
For example, an undergraduate dissertation proposal will be a couple of thousand words long. A Ph.D. proposal is typically around 3000 words long.
While this might sound like a large number to achieve, the best way to get through your proposal is by breaking it down into smaller sections.
2. Dissertation abstract length
Your dissertation abstract should be between 100 and 350 words. If it is more than 350 words, you’ve probably included too much information in your abstract. The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the entire paper. A dissertation is usually between 10,000 and 20,000 words long.
A dissertation abstract should describe all parts of your thesis in very brief form, as it’s meant to give readers a general overview of everything that’s covered within your work—including the research question you posed (or problem statement), literature review, participants/subjects/instruments used, methodologies employed, analyses performed and results obtained, conclusions reached and implications thereof. Your primary goal is to condense the main points of each section into one sentence or paragraph; this will help readers decide if they want to read through your full paper (and therefore save them time).
3. What is the length of the dissertation introduction?
You can think about the introduction making up around 10% of your dissertation as a rule of thumb. So if you are writing a dissertation that is 20,000 words, then 10% will be 2000 words long. It doesn’t need to be an exact science – but it does need to make sense within the overall length of your dissertation. So, your introduction should take up no more than half of that total word count.
If you’re unsure about this and want an indication of how long your introduction needs to be, check in with your supervisor or look at an academic writing guide for postgraduates.
4. How long should a dissertation literature review chapter be?
The length of your literature review entirely depends on its purpose of it. For example, writing a dissertation will involve conducting an extensive review of an academic field and then writing a long dissertation. So how long is a literature review in such cases?
In this case, your paper’s length will be determined by the number of chapters in your dissertation and the main purpose that each chapter serves. Typically, dissertations range from 10-to 15 chapters, each serving a different purpose.
However, there are no set rules for how many words or pages any particular type of chapter should contain. You can go as short or as long as you’d like for each section. I recommend reading up on what’s expected for each specific chapter before deciding its length.
5. Dissertation methodology chapter length
The dissertation methodology chapter is the place to describe the methods you’ve chosen to use to prove the hypothesis or answer the question you proposed. In other words, it should explain why your research was necessary and how it contributes to existing knowledge on your topic.
This chapter can range from 2,500-to 4,000 words long, but this depends on whether you must submit a separate research proposal chapter (especially if you’re a postgraduate). If so, then your dissertation methodology will have a brief literature review of the research that you’ll use as support for your theories and hypotheses. This means that it will be about half of this total length—1,750 words or so.
6. How long should a Dissertation results section be?
The results section of your dissertation should be very precise and should not take too long to read. It is where you can show off your writing skills and present exciting new results in detail.
It would help if you aimed for about 8-10 pages, though depending on the nature of your research, it may be shorter or longer. In some fields, you may need a longer discussion section to explain your results, while in others, only a summary will do. If you are not sure how long your results section should be, consult with your supervisor or instructor before you begin writing to get their input. Here are some more tips:
- Include a 1-3 page executive summary that gives an overview of the findings and conclusions
- Don’t include any lengthy background information here; save that for the introduction.
- Use APA style wherever possible – this will make formatting easier later on.
- Include at least one chart, graph, or table to help illustrate key points
7. How long should a Dissertation discussion section be?
How long should a dissertation discussion be?
A good dissertation discussion should be about ten pages long. If your dissertation is around 10,000 words, you’re looking at writing a discussion somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 words. Again, this is a rough guide as each university has its word count guidelines.
What should go in the Dissertation discussion section?
The most important thing to remember about the Dissertation discussion section is that it’s where you show your understanding of your research results and how they fit into the context of your field. You need to explain what you did and why you made those decisions.
In short, your dissertation discussion should tell the reader how your research results answer the research question or questions you set out when writing the introduction chapter. This means explaining:
- How do these results answer my original research question/hypothesis?
- How do these findings relate to previous work done on this topic? How does my work fill any gaps or extend previous knowledge?
- What are the implications of these findings for future practice/research/policy etc.? What unanswered questions remain?
8. How long should a dissertation conclusion be?
You’ve written so much, but the conclusion is still waiting to be done. You know that this chapter must be short, but you don’t know how short. We are here to help you.
While the length of a dissertation varies according to its subject matter, most of them are between 10,000 and 30,000 words long. In comparison with these numbers, the conclusion of your dissertation should be relatively short. Your conclusion shouldn’t make more than 5-6% of your entire dissertation. If your dissertation is 40 pages long (20,000 words), then a standard length for a conclusion would be four pages (1000 words). This is just an approximate number because it depends on how many arguments you have in your paper and how much evidence you provide for each argument. Some longer dissertations may need more pages for their conclusions.
This is not enough space for you to summarize every aspect of your paper in detail; instead, we recommend that you use this space wisely by reiterating the main points of your research.
How long does it take to write a dissertation?
So, how long does it take to write a dissertation? This is one of the most common questions among graduate students, and for a good reason. Unlike a typical essay or term paper with a reasonably straightforward length requirement—e.g., five pages—a dissertation is not as easy to pin down since each will be different in terms of page count and word count.
Unfortunately, there’s no set answer because all dissertations are different. The length of an introduction varies depending on the topic, research question(s), and methodology, likewise with other chapters like the literature review or discussion section. And if you’re wondering how long it takes to write a conclusion (or other sections), the same is true: it depends on your topic and approach.
What’s more useful than figuring out a set duration is learning how long certain sections usually take so you can plan accordingly.
Can you write a dissertation in two weeks?
The short answer is: probably not. While there are many good reasons to keep dissertation writing a focused and dedicated task, life might intervene, and you might have to write yours in a shorter time frame. For example, if you’ve undertaken some teaching or administrative duties on top of your Ph.D. studies, it can take longer than three years to complete.
You may also be facing an emergency or illness that requires you to make changes to your timeline. In these instances, it’s understandable that students could want to find ways to speed up the process.
It’s important to know why it isn’t realistic for most students to write their dissertation at lightning-fast speeds, as many services promise this (and charge accordingly). The reason is simple: a dissertation is an extremely long piece of writing with many parts and chapters that all need careful attention and time spent on them individually. These include literature reviews, methodology statements, and writing individual chapters of the dissertation in their own right.
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