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How Many Words is a Dissertation?

Date published July 11 2020 by Barbara Neil


During my last year of Master’s program, I heard from my professors and seniors’ dissertation is the most challenging assignment and risk if done wrong. After listening to these comments about the dissertation, I got too scared.

Something as simple as having 15000 words of dissertation wrong is the worst nightmare which can put your career and years of hard work in vain. So, I probably do not want this to happen. After hearing a lot about the dissertation, I finally settle down with a pen and paper.

Table of Contents

How “Dissertation Proposal” Can Help You!

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Got myself work up with the internet, laptop and my fingers (for typing), dig all the stuff that can make up a perfect dissertation writing and can instantly impress my supervisor. Dealing with dissertation myself, I got to know many tips and tricks about how to complete full-length research writing.

The common question most of the undergraduate ask about dissertation is how many words is a dissertation.

I would say probably 12000-15000 words but the figure might change as per your University or supervisor is a concern.

So, How Many Words Is A Dissertation….

Why do you need to know the word count of a dissertation? When I first started off my dissertation I wasn’t aware of how much to write in each heading and this mistake led me without words.

Each chapter has its own specific word count and it needs to be followed religiously so that you may not run out of words again.

Therefore, let’s divide each word count according to the chapters and their headings.

Start With 1000 words of introduction

The first chapter starts with an introduction to your dissertation writing. The introductory section is subdivided into the scope of the research, research question etc. Though the 1000 words carried for an introduction may vary according to the title and how much essential background you have gathered.

Next Comes The 3000 words literature review

A literature review is the heart of a dissertation, and it contains 30% of the weightage. The word count calculated might vary from 3000 words to 4000 words, you will have to address the conceptual framework and have to give a critical perspective. The literature review helps to support the existing knowledge relevant to the topic ideas you choose from.

Adding On 2000 words of methodology

Chapter 3 consist of the method at which all your research question and problem statement will get an answer. You must tell how the data will be gathered and what method is necessary to adopt while collecting answers to our research question. The word count may vary to 1500 to 2000 words or more if possible. There are multiple questions you must answer when writing your methodology, such as what alternative you could have taken, how you will select the samples etc.

Only 4000 words of finding and results

Well, the finding and result section do not contain a lot of words and the weightage of the section is approximately 5% in the average dissertation words. The reason is, the findings and results cover half of the charts and graphs showing the summarized data. However, the findings and results are mostly divided into separate sections. Hence, the weightage of results IS 30% of the dissertation. The word count of the results section is calculated around 3000, you will have to write a complete overview of the summary of results conducted.

Lastly, 2000 words of Conclusion and Recommendation

In some cases, the conclusion and recommendation may carry 1000-word however, it is most probably 2000 words each. In those words, you need to sum up all the important points and summarize the main idea. The conclusion should answer, does your research covers the problem stated in the first chapter and how did you overcome the problem.

How Long is the Dissertation?

When we ask about how much is the average dissertation length nobody knows the exact answer. Even when I was crafting my dissertation I did not know how long is the dissertation going to be, probably 149 pages or 150 or only 100. So, the answer to this question is, is that it depends upon what area you are writing your dissertation, for instance, the domain you choose appears to be different when writing the dissertation. Sometimes, what you see is not exactly what it looks like in a dissertation. It may look longer at first but when you write and construct fully you get to know the more area or pages are covered by References, appendix, tables of content, figures, page breaks or white spacing these all contribute to higher page length.

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    How A Postgraduate Student Chooses An Average Dissertation Length?

    As described above the ideal range of a dissertation depends upon the topic of research but also some other factors that contribute to the average dissertation length.

    Chapter 1:

    An average length of the thesis should be 15 to 25 pages, if you go beyond 25 that is considered a better as the material that will be presented should be appropriate but just remember credibility is important.

    Chapter 2:

    An average length of the dissertation in chapter 2 should be almost 8 to 10 pages long. The chapter 2 explores the existing research and previous studies to help support the methodology section in the next chapter.

    Chapter 3:

    The planning of your research should be 15 to 20 pages long, this is because you need to give an idea to the readers what you did and how you did it.

    Chapter 4:

    The readers in chapter 4 will understand and will get to know what you find out and all the results of your study is presented here. So, the chapter length should be approximately 6-7 pages long.

    Chapter 5:

    This chapter include all the summary of what you have already done for the past 15 months. And the it is submitted in only 6 to 8 pages after working hard.

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    Final Verdict

    Dissertation writing is not written in one sitting; you need to work for many months just to form a piece of research, crafting paragraph and coming to the conclusion. Just be calm, be patient and stay confident in your work. Only then you can achieve a successful dissertation despite its word limit.