A dissertation is academic writing based on research on a specialized subject of choice. It is generally an integral part of all fields of higher education. It is sometimes also required for a bachelor’s degree. In the case of an architectural thesis, dissertations/thesis reports are a systematic explanation of one’s approach to their respective topics. It is a detailed personal account of the research and processes of design that went into the completion of the thesis project.

A guide on how to write/structure a dissertation report - Sheet1
Dissertation/Thesis ©www.thoughtfulminds.org

The structuring of a thesis dissertation proposal or report will most likely differ for every individual based on the nature of their project. Several elements come into account for its structuring such as the location, function, discipline, and approach to the topic itself. The report however has to follow some basic guidelines as expected from a piece of academic writing. The sections may overlap or get condensed into a section according to individual requirements and are also subject to change depending on the subject being written about. 

A guide on how to write/structure a dissertation report - Sheet2
Steps in dissertation ©us.sagepub.com

Keeping these fundamentals into account, listed below are a gist of topics that are required to be covered for a dissertation report.

1. Title Page

The title page should contain introductory information about the topic and individual such as the dissertation’s title, name, department, institution, degree program, submission date, student number, supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Universities generally provide strict formats for the title page.

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Example of a title page ©www.discoverphds.com

2. Acknowledgements 

The section is reserved for acknowledging the assistance from faculty and friends in the course of completion of the project.

3. Abstract

A summary of the entirety of the subject is generally written after the completion to provide a start to end description. The abstract should be such as to entice the reader into delving further into the subject matter discussed in the dissertation.

4. Table of Contents 

A list of all the sub-headings and their respective page numbers has to be listed in the table of contents.

A guide on how to write/structure a dissertation report - Sheet4
Example of a contents page ©www.scribbr.com

5. List of figures 

A numbered list of figures or tables used is essential for the itemization of the graphical content in the dissertation. This can be automatically achieved through the Insert Caption feature in MS Word.  

6. List of abbreviations 

In the case of using languages other than English, a list of abbreviations is necessary in an alphabetized order.

7. Glossary 

This section is a more detailed version of the previous section (list of abbreviations) and may be used in case of having to explain many unknown terms or subject matter.

8. Introduction 

The introduction sets the tone for the dissertation giving a glimpse to the reader of what to expect. The introduction should necessarily specify the topic chosen and its context, outline the specific scope of research conducted, and establish a social connection or the necessity of the research into the chosen subject.

The research question is the most integral part of the dissertation that acts as a backbone to the structuring of the report. The question has to be specified in the introduction along with the objectives that are looking to be covered.

9. Literature Review 

The first type of research to be conducted at the beginning of any type of dissertation is a literature study of existing works that have previously covered the subject matter. The research should be an analysis of the existing piece concerning comparisons that can be drawn to establish a concrete argument, raise points that are left uncovered, and build on existing data.

10. Methodology 

This section specifies how research is conducted. It outlines the where, when, and how data was collected to assess its validity, the approach to the subject, methods of analyzing the collected data, the different software used, a detailed review of the processes involved and obstacles faced, and finally a justification of the data collected.

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The Methodology section is the most important part of any dissertation and should be a detailed outline of all the steps and procedures undertaken in the course of the entire research. A compelling argument should also be established in this section that convinces the reader that the methods adopted to conduct the research adequately answer the research questions in the best way possible.

11. Results 

From the research conducted and methods undertaken, the results that are procured have to be stated in this section in the most precise and definite way. Providing conclusive statistics on how the hypothesis is supported through tables and figures may be an effective way to approach this section.

Results should be concrete evidence and should not be open to speculation.

12. Discussion

Questioning the results obtained in an explorative outlook to understand whether it answers the research questions effectively and fits into the framework of the entire dissertation is the prerogative of this section. This section should also bring forth further questions regarding the implications of the results and their impact. It should also acknowledge the shortcomings of the research conducted.    

13. Conclusion 

The conclusion must and should directly answer the research question. The reader should thus have a conclusive understanding of the research undertaken. It should state the overall conclusion which is then explained in parts that interprets their meaning. The conclusion statement should leave the reader with clarity on why this dissertation matters and should throw light on the additional information gathered.

14. Reference List

The reference list must contain the sources of all citations. Following a consistent citation style is necessary, the Harvard Citation Style being the most commonly used for academic papers.   

Harvard Citation Format © edubirdie.com

15. Appendices

Additional resources that have not directly contributed to the dissertation but have indirectly influenced the narrative should be specified in this section.   

Grammar mistakes and other formatting errors reflect poor quality of work and draw away attention from the topic being discussed. Proofreading the manuscript multiple times is a must to rule out any possibility of error to achieve a well-written dissertation.


Anusha Kiran is an Architecture Student from Bangalore who frequently dances, seldom sketches, is always seen with a book in hand and terribly misses playing basketball.