Although an undergraduate dissertation is rarely a requirement for graduation, it is an additional option that gives you an extra point as a scholar. Those students who do an undergraduate thesis are bound to graduate with additional honor which can help them find gainful employment in the future.
Despite an undergraduate dissertation being a little difficult. It shouldn’t be confused with a master thesis which requires independent research or a Ph.D. dissertation which entails many years of research and aims to push a step forward in a scholar’s field of study.
The Structure of an Undergraduate Dissertation Paper
The structure of your dissertation shall depend on the field of study you are involved in. however, the dissertation shall be divided into four or five chapters at most. The structure shall look like this if the dissertation is on a social science or science field;
- The title page
- The Abstract
- The introduction
- A literature review section
- The Methodology you used
- The Results of your Research
- The discussion section
- The conclusion
- The Reference/works cited
If your dissertation is in the field of humanities, the structure shall look a bit different. The dissertations in the field of humanities are in form of long essays, creating arguments by reviewing different sources of information. And thus as opposed to following the above-stated structure, you can organize your chapters based on different themes and case studies.
The content in each section of your undergraduate dissertation shall look like this;
The Title Page of an undergraduate dissertation
This is the first page of your document and shall contain the dissertation title, your name as a student, the department of your course, the college or university name, the program you are undertaking, and the date of submission of the dissertation. Other details that might be captured on the title page can be your student registration number, your instructor, and the university logo.
The title page will be the cover you will use when binding the dissertation so capture the right details on this page. It is what a reader sees first.
This is the section where you thank everyone who helped you financially or emotionally during the writing process of your thesis. They can be instructors, family friends, or colleagues who offered moral support during the writing process.
The Abstract section of an undergraduate dissertation
In about 300 words, you shall give your reader a summary of your dissertation. In that summary, you shall capture the main topic and the aims of your dissertation, the methods you used to collect and analyse data, the results you came up with, and the conclusion you made from the findings. The abstract will be short and in most cases the only part of your work that people shall read. You will often write it at the end of your dissertation when you have completed everything.
The Table of contents section
You shall generate a table of contents automatically in the word program. This is a list of the chapters and subheadings within your dissertations and the specific page numbers they can be found. The table of content offers an overview of your dissertation and act as a navigation guide to specific sections.
List of Figures and Tables
In this part of your undergraduate dissertation, you shall list figures and tables that you have used in the project. If you have used several tables and figures, you can itemize them with a numbered list.
List of Abbreviations
The abbreviations used in your dissertation can be included in this section in an alphabetized list of abbreviations. Your readers can find the meanings of your abbreviations and have a better understanding of the content from this list.
The Glossary section of an undergraduate dissertation
The glossary section is quite important in listing complicated terms which you have used that your readers might not be familiar with. The terms are listed alphabetically and with a brief description of them.
The Introduction section of an undergraduate dissertation
In the introduction part of your dissertation, you will introduce your topic to your readers, state the purpose of the dissertation and let the audience know what to expect from your work. Give your readers a background of your research topic and then focus on and define the scope of the research. What is the existing research on the problem area? And how is your work going to solve that problem or is relevant to the current debate in the area?
You shall also state the objectives and the research questions you seek to answer by the end of the dissertations and how you will answer them finally. You shall also offer an overview of the dissertation’s structure. The introduction answers the what, why, and how of your research.
The Literature Review/theoretical framework section of an undergraduate dissertation
Before you begin your research, you should have conducted a thorough literature review to have a great understanding of the information and research that exists on your particular topic. You will be required to do this by checking books and peer-reviewed journals on the topic of study, in most cases research not more than five years old that is still relevant to the topic of study. You will analyze your sources and draw conclusions and observe patterns and identify knowledge gaps that justify your dissertation.
While conducting a literature review of your dissertation, it shouldn’t be just a summary of what already exists, remember to develop a coherent structure and arguments that justify the research you are carrying. The literature review is the foundation for a theoretical framework upon which you define and analyse concepts and models that frame the research you are carrying out. You can answer descriptive research questions on the relationships which might exist between various concepts, giving more clarity to the research topic.
The Methodology of an Undergraduate dissertation research paper
The validity of your dissertation is assessed in this section because it entails the methods you used to conduct the research. In this section of the dissertation, you shall enlist the type of research you carries out (whether qualitative, quantitative, or experimental).
You shall also mention the data collection methods used, whether you used interviews or surveys. Include the analysis methods you used, whether statistical or discourse analysis. The software you used to analyse the data and finally mention the obstacles you faced in the dissertation process.
You can justify to the readers why you choose the specific methods you have enlisted above and prove that these are the best methods for the study you were carrying.
The Results section of the undergraduate dissertation
In this part of the dissertation, you shall report the results based on the questions, hypotheses of the research, and any sub-question that exists. The results you report have to be relevant to your objectives and the research questions you had at the beginning of the study. You can present your results in form of tables, charts, and graphs that offer visual information to the reader and not just a repeat of what you have written.
It is important to note that in qualitative interviews, the results shall always be presented with the discussion and analysis whereas, in the quantitative and experimental type of research, you can present your results and then discuss their meaning. You can consult with your instructor to find out the best approach for your research.
What is the meaning of your results? You shall explore that in this section of the dissertation. Interpret your findings in detail to the audience, whether they met the expectations you set out to find or whether they didn’t. If you received any results that you didn’t expect, explain that in this section and look at the possible causes for those unexpected results. How do your findings correlate with other research in that field of study? Explore how there is a fit or not.
Tell your readers any limitations that would have influenced your findings and future recommendations on how to avoid such limitations.
The conclusion section of a dissertation research proposal
Your dissertation conclusion shall be in line with the research questions you asked in the introduction section. You shall leave the audience with a clear understanding of the arguments you set out at the beginning of the dissertation. You shall conclude your dissertation with a reflection on everything you did within the research and how you went about them. You will recommend future areas for further research to other scholars. How has the work added to what is already known? You shall state that in this section.
In the submission of your undergraduate dissertation research paper, it is important to include all the works you have cited in a consistent referencing style. You can use a word program to automatically insert a reference list in your work. You can also use free citation generators online for reference.
The Appendices section exists because your dissertation shall contain only information that is relevant to the research topic and questions. Any document you may have used to collect data that does not fit into the dissertation such as interview scripts goes into the appendices.