20,000-Word Dissertation Structure- Step-To-Step Guide

Writing a 20,000-word dissertation is a long and complex academic task requiring extensive research and planning and one needs to have knowledge of the dissertation structure. However, the process becomes an achievable goal with the right dissertation writing help, guidance, and structure. You can craft a unique, well-researched, structured, written thesis, score good grades, and graduate without stress.

While the structure of a dissertation varies depending on the discipline, topic, and institution, there are some common elements that most dissertations share. This step-by-step guide explains how to structure a 20,000-word dissertation and answers some common FAQs about dissertation writing.

How to structure a 20,000-word dissertation

When it comes to writing a dissertation, structure is essential. A well-structured thesis helps the reader to understand your research topic or question and encourages them to keep reading. It also lets you coherently present your arguments and findings and impress your supervisor and academic community. Here’s how to structure a 20,000-word article, which is a typical length for many disciplines:


The introduction is the first chapter of your dissertation that overviews your research topic, highlights the research problem, and sets its aims and objectives. The introduction should be captivating and engaging, setting the tone for the entire dissertation. Your introduction should be around 10% of your total word count (2,000 words) and include the following elements:

dissertation structure

Background of the study

This section provides an overview of the research topic, highlighting its importance and relevance. Start by discussing the broader context of your research area before narrowing it down to your specific research problem. Use statistics, anecdotes, expert quotes, or shocking facts to make your introduction more engaging and appealing to read.

Significance of the study

This section should explain why your research is essential and relevant. Highlight the gap in the literature that your study aims to fill, the practical implications of your research, or the theoretical contributions of your research.

Research problem

This section should state the research problem you aim to address in your dissertation. It should be clear, concise, and specific, as it helps you focus on your research and stay on track throughout the writing process.

Research questions

State the research questions you aim to answer in your dissertation. These questions should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. You may use sub-questions to break down your main research questions.

The research aims and objectives

In this section, state the overall aim of your research and the specific objectives you aim to achieve. Your research aim should align with your research problem and contribute to the broader research area.

When writing an introduction for your dissertation, use clear and straightforward language that the reader easily understands. Use subheadings to organize your introduction chapter and enable the reader to follow your argument to the end. Then provide a brief explanation of what the remaining sections of your dissertation will cover so the reader knows what to expect.

Literature review

A literature review is the second chapter, yet a critical dissertation element. It involves a comprehensive and systematic analysis of existing research and scholarly literature related to your research topic.

Your literature review should provide a theoretical and conceptual framework for your research. It should identify gaps in the literature and justify the significance of your research question. This section should be around 30% of your total word count (6,000 words) and cover the following elements:

  • Background and context: Provide a brief overview of the research topic and its historical, social, or cultural context.
  • Theoretical framework: Introduce and explain the theoretical or conceptual framework underpinning your research.
  • Scope and limitations: Define the scope and limitations of your literature review, including the specific sources and types of literature you will include.
  • Synthesis of literature: Analyze and synthesize the literature to identify key themes, trends, debates, and gaps in the existing research.
  • Evaluation of literature: Evaluate the quality and relevance of the literature, including the strengths and limitations of the research methods and findings.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the research analysis and identify gaps in the research the dissertation aims to address.

Research Methodology

This is the third chapter of your dissertation that explains and justifies your study’s research design, methods, data collection, and data analysis. It should be clear and detailed enough for another researcher to replicate your study. Your research methodology should be around 15% of your total word count (3,000 words) and include the following key elements:

  • Research design: This section should provide an overview of the research design used in your study, such as qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods, or case study research.
  • Research approach: This section should explain the research approach used in your study, such as deductive, inductive, or abductive.
  • Data collection: This section should describe the methods used to collect data for your study, such as surveys, interviews, observations, or document analysis.
  • Sampling: This section should describe the sampling strategy used in your study, such as probability or non-probability sampling, and justify your sampling decisions.
  • Data analysis: This section should describe the methods used to analyze your data, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, or statistical analysis.


This is the fourth chapter of your dissertation that presents and describes the findings of your data analysis. Organize it according to your research questions or hypotheses. Use appropriate tables, graphs, charts, or other visual aids to illustrate your results. Your results section should be around 5% of your total word count (1,000 words).


This is the fifth chapter of your dissertation that interprets and evaluates the results of your data analysis in relation to your research questions or hypotheses, literature review, and theoretical framework. It should also discuss your study’s implications, limitations, and recommendations. It should be around 30% of your total word count (6,000 words).

Recommendations and Conclusions

The conclusion is the last chapter of your dissertation that summarizes the main points of your study and answers the research question or hypothesis. It should also restate your study’s aim, objectives, significance, and contributions and provide some suggestions for future research. The section should be around 10% of your total word count (2,000 words).


How long does it take to write a 20,000-word dissertation?

The time it takes to write a 20,000-word dissertation will depend on factors such as research complexity, education level, and data collection methods. On average, it takes three weeks to several months to complete a dissertation of this length.

How many pages is a 20,000-word dissertation?

A 20,000-word dissertation is approximately 80-100 pages long. This varies depending on font size, type, line spacing, and margins.

How many references should a 20,000-word dissertation have?

Again, the number of references in a 20,000-word dissertation will depend on the research question and methodology. However, on average, a dissertation of this length should have between 80-120 references or more.

How long should a literature review be in a 20,000-word dissertation?

According to British Writings, the length of a dissertation’s literature review should account for 30% of the paper’s length. This means the literature review chapter of a 20,000-word dissertation should be around 6000 words.

Get the Best Academic Writing Services Today

Writing a 20,000-word dissertation that wins your reader’s hearts and earns good grades requires careful planning and extensive research. It should have a clear structure that includes an introduction, literature review, research methodology, findings, discussion, conclusion, and reference sections. By including these elements in your paper, you produce a well-structured and comprehensive dissertation.

While writing a dissertation is overwhelming, seeking the best essay writing services helps alleviate the stress and ensure you submit a high-quality dissertation within the required timeframe. These services provide access to expert writers who are well-versed in academic writing and help refine your ideas, improve your writing style, and ensure that your dissertation is free from errors and plagiarism. If you want to produce a top-notch dissertation that meets academic standards, seeking essay writing services is worth considering.

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