What is a Dissertation?

The architectural dissertation is the culmination of many years of study and knowledge that you have learned throughout your studies. It is very important when you write a dissertation you have a clear mind, as you approach this kind of work. Your research needs to be precise, beneficial and positively influence the world and your future career. A dissertation is a comprehensive piece of writing that represents competencies and capacities of research within your field. It is an important paper written by those who seek high academic degrees that display a large body of work showcasing how you came to certain conclusions backing this all up with processed data and research. The key to a good dissertation is the analysis of data and logical thinking. 

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How to  start your Dissertation 

The following part will introduce you to the preliminary stages of the dissertation process. 

The biggest decision you have to make is what topic you are going to choose? As you will be spending a lot of time reading, writing, and thinking so it is important to choose what interests you. This is the hard part. Once you select a topic that you find appealing you will be able to focus on the end product, let’s take a look at the method of choosing your architecture dissertation topic. 

First and foremost is to ask yourself some questions:

Do I find this topic interesting? Or Can I see myself still being interested after weeks of working on it? Have I thought this theme through, and understood the demands it will make of me

 If the answer to any of these questions is no you need to reconsider your choice.

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Choose a subject that has plenty of research material easily available, spend some time brainstorming that you can get ideas, and consider areas that you are comfortable with. For example, if you are intrigued by new technology and trends, you can select that as your theme, pick a title you want to elaborate on, or if you are keen on the sustainable and organic architecture you can focus your mind there. Write down all the ideas that pop in your head as one of them can lead eventually to your architectural dissertation. Choose a title that makes sense, don’t go too broad, consider breaking it, as your dissertation has to be relevant and concise. 

As an example, let’s say if you are interested in the theme Preserving and Portraying culture through structures, that’s quite a broad subject you can narrow down into selecting a particular building that portrays history. Make sure you construct a coherent piece of writing. Take your time to read other architecture dissertations, so you can gain some insights into what excites or interests you. Reading other people’s work can bring up new ideas that you can consider. Look at the current trends. What are people talking about?  The environmental impact on architecture. Listen to podcasts, as they are becoming popular you can get inspired and learn about working in the profession and the issues affecting architecture from around the world

How to approach your Dissertation

A dissertation is quite long and requires more-in depth research and writing. So plan a structure and make your architecture dissertation better organized. Consider help from your advisor, who can guide you, offer suggestions and advice on how to reframe or re-consider some elements of your research, topic, and dissertation. Also, who can motivate you and critique you? A well-planned dissertation is more accurate and precise. 

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Be selective in your research, as the research phase is very important. The best places to find the relevant information to carry out the research of your topic, are course books, specific academic journals, and the internet that contains pertinent information, processed, accurate data, and properly-referenced. You can also choose audio-visual materials that include films, programs, radio interviews, podcasts that will provide your dissertation a rich variety.  Record the details of each sourcebook, journals that you have considered, this will keep a tab on what you have found so far. Make sure you collect your data and reference somewhere safe and ensure your sources are in alphabetical order so that you can analyze and organize your information, rather than just writing descriptive information about the topic. 

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For details on references and citations, consider the Harvard Referencing System Here. https://www.citethisforme.com/harvard-referencing


After the research process is complete, analysis of data shapes your architecture dissertation. Thematic analysis is the most commonly used procedure in architecture dissertation, breaking into visual, textual, and historical analysis.

Textual Analysis– It is a descriptive research that highlights the areas of your interest, should be studied in detail, and pay attention as to why these points are important.  What are the issues and themes in this piece? Why is this essential? How has the author addressed the subject? Does it lead to any more sources? Lots of questions to consider and you can drill down further the information you are intrigued with and write down your observations. 

Similarly, Visual and Historical Analysis is also important in architecture dissertation, as you can do a comparative analysis of visual findings and lookout at historical events or situations regarding your topic, and find out numerous questions you could ask and write down remarks. 

Structure & Writing 

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When you have done enough research and analyzed it, you need to plan the structure of your dissertation, it takes time to write and rewrite and go through the revision process with your advisor. A tip to make your dissertation less daunting and more interesting is to try to break down your dissertation into parts, each presenting a different part of the argument.  

The Architecture dissertation outline will allow you to stay focused on your main argument and leave yourself plenty of time to draft and redraft your dissertation

The following is the section of the dissertation:-

  1. Title
  2. Contents
  3. Summary
  4. Introduction
  5. Literature Review
  6. Methodology
  7. Findings
  8. Conclusion
  9. Recommendations
  10. References & Bibliography

Important suggestions to consider for your Architecture Dissertation

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  • Start your dissertation early and write every day
  • The importance of time management as writing a dissertation is like running a marathon that is exhausting mental and physical health. So, prepare a time schedule that suits you. 
  • Speak to people related to the field or your theme.
  • Cite your sources and include references.
  • Support your dissertation with maps, photographs, and diagrams. 
  • Be analytical, back up all claims and arguments, and write in appropriate style.
  • Be sure to follow a more readable style and avoid using complex sentence structures
  • Avoid Plagiarism
  • Seek guidance and feedback from your advisor
  • Be precise, accurate, and put all elements of your dissertation together in a perfect conclusion. 
  • Lastly, prepare yourself for the questions after the review process. 

With this Good Luck with your Architecture Dissertation report.

Here are some references that can help you in selecting architectural topics


The Dissertation- A Guide for Architecture Students by Iain Borden, Katerina Rüedi Ray Research Methods for Architecture by Ray Lucas




ArchiSpeak- archispeakpodcast.com
99% Invisible- https://99percentinvisible.org/



Michael Odhiambo,  Writing your Dissertation

THE COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO WRITE A DISSERTATION: FROM TOPIC DEVELOPMENT TO DEFENSE- https://precisionconsultingcompany.com/indepth-guide-to-writing-dissertation.shtml

Iain Jackson,  October 9, 2017,  12 Dissertation Writing Tips for Architecture Students


Jahanavi Arora is an Architect by profession with a passion for writing, design & decor. She believes that writing and architecture are quite similar as they both are forms of art and beyond every building, there is a story to tell which she loves to explore. In her spare time, she would be found in the corner of her room reading, playing around with her 3-year-old boy, or grooving on her favorite music.