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Typical Dissertation structure

Most dissertations in the construction management field follow a similar structure. The
following shows a typical structure which contains all the expected elements of a
postgraduate dissertation. You may wish to use this to help structure your own
dissertation

Chapter 1 Introduction
• Rationale
• Aim and objectives
• Hypothesis
• Dissertation structure explained

Chapter 2 Literature review theme #1


• intro – ‘what’ the chapter covers and ‘why’
• main body
• conclusions – conclude and reflect on main findings. Link with next
chapter

Chapter 3 Literature review theme #2


• intro – ‘what’ the chapter covers and ‘why’
• main body
• conclusions – conclude and reflect on main findings. Link with next
chapter

Chapter 4 Literature review theme #3


• intro – ‘what’ the chapter covers and ‘why’
• main body
• conclusions – conclude and reflect on main findings. Link with next
chapter

(N.B – the number of literature review chapters will vary, speak to your supervisor for guidance)

Chapter 5 Research Methods


Deals with approaches considered and justifies approach selected
(should be informed by a number of references)

Chapter 6 Data Collection and Analysis


what form does the data take?
how was it collected and what is it representative of?
analysis of the data and results reported

Chapter 7 Conclusions and Recommendations


Overall statement of findings and reflection on the work carried out
Brings together the literature review and fieldwork findings
Restate original objectives and assess how these have been met
Recommendations for further research

Construction Management & Surveying Programme


Dr Graeme Bowles
A note on the ‘Abstract’
The abstract is a very important but often overlooked element of the dissertation (probably
because it’s written last when the rush to print is on). About ½ to ¾ page in length, it creates the
readers first impression of the work. It often mistakenly reads like an introduction. The best
construction management specific advice on abstract writing is available at
http://www.personal.rdg.ac.uk/~kcshuwil/cme/abstract.html .Following the few simple
conventions can create a favourable impression of your work.

Typical comments found on Dissertation Assessment sheets (to avoid!)

“descriptive” “very general literature review”

“superficial” “sparse/inadequate conclusions”

“poorly structured and presented” “inconsistent/poor referencing”

“lacks focus” “too few refs./out of date refs”

“little consideration of research methods” “no explanation of data”

Literature review pointers: when reviewing a piece of literature


• Explore you’re ideas through the literature – don’t just report it.
• Remember to note down full bibliographical details
• Is it an original study or report of other peoples work? (primary/secondary)
• Is it empirical or polemical? (data or argumentative)
• What research methods were used and what data was collected?
• Arrange/organise literature by themes (not just lists)

“I can’t find any literature on my topic!”


- search is being defined too narrowly
- look laterally for creative comparisons/contrasts (think laterally/search
creatively)

Becoming familiar with the library resources available will make the search much more
effective, in terms of available databases, search engines and print & electronic journals.
See http://www.hw.ac.uk/library/howtobuilding.html for guidance.

General pointers

Construction Management & Surveying Programme


Dr Graeme Bowles
• Make sure you have (and use) the School and Programme guidance.

• Literature review should be substantially complete before any data collection


begins

• Establish a working pattern with your supervisor

Construction Management & Surveying Programme


Dr Graeme Bowles

Related Interests