How long Should Be a Dissertation in Words & Pages


October 6, 2021
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George Orwell
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939 views

One of the most common questions asked by students is how many words should be in a dissertation. The answer, however, is “it depends”!

The simple answer is that your word count should be anywhere between 70,000-80,000. The best way to find out how many words are in your dissertation is to type ‘word count’ into Google and computer programs such as Word will give you the answer.

Google’s estimate for an 80,000-word dissertation was around 240 pages in length. Remember that your dissertation should be an average of 300 words per page and that is a minimum requirement for anything over 40,000 words.

Having said that, however, nearly all universities and colleges will accept dissertations in excess of 100,000 words; the word counts quoted above are simply rough estimations depending on what you are writing about. Discuss your word count with your supervisor and don’t be afraid to ask for their advice!


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How long should a dissertation be?

The length of your dissertation depends on the Ph.D. program to which you’re applying. Most universities require their doctorate students to complete many years of study; the minimum is usually three years. During this time, you’ll be expected to produce numerous pieces of written work and at least one big project towards the end of your doctorate – known as a dissertation.

The actual word count for dissertations varies according to discipline, university regulations, and personal choice. But it’s not just the number of words you have to write that count. There are other factors involved too, for instance, whether you’ll be submitting a hard copy or an electronic file, and your field of study.

As a rule of thumb, most departments require dissertations to be between 10,000 and 100,000 words long – although the upper figure is rare. A dissertation will usually contain introductory sections dealing with research methods/design, followed by results based on that work, then practical conclusions based on those findings. Finally, this information will be analyzed in great detail before being summarised into one final section. This final stage often includes recommendations for further development and future research options/ideas which may even lead to new Ph.D. projects.


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How long is an average dissertation?

The length of a dissertation varies from subject to subject, student to student, and university to university. The average dissertation tends to be between 25,000 and 50,000 words long – but it can vary considerably depending on your topic. If you’re writing about a very technical or highly specific subject then the word count will probably be higher than if you were writing about a more general topic that many other students could cover.

There are some subjects where the dissertation is longer because there’s more research involved – for instance, in engineering studies an academic paper may have been written as part of your coursework which means that much of your dissertation will already have been done for you! This means that a student studying engineering would only have to write up their findings rather than do all the research as well. Likewise, if you’re writing about a very specific topic or your research is based on already-published work this will also make your dissertation shorter.

Why is it important to know how many words are in your dissertation?

Understanding how many words are in your dissertation is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, you need to ensure that you have enough space to present the work that has taken you so long to produce. It’s all too easy to lose sight of how much effort will be required to transform what might initially seem like relatively few words into an acceptable dissertation.

Secondly, for students who struggle with word counts (and there are more than you might think!), it can become easier for them if they understand that their final document must contain around 300 words per page at least – see our article on academic writing. Some students may find this rate challenging; however, by taking things step by step and breaking each section down into digestible chunks of information, it gets much easier!

Finally, knowing how many words are in your dissertation will help you to budget your time more effectively. If you only have 30,000 words of space available for the whole project and your introduction alone is going to be 10,000 words long, then you might need to omit certain sections or find ways of presenting them within the existing text. Aiming for a balanced and concise document will ensure that you don’t run out of time at the last minute and finish up with something rushed and incomplete.


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What is the Introduction chapter length in the dissertation?

The dissertation introduction is probably one of the most important stages in your entire writing process. This is where you lay out your stall, demonstrating to everyone how you are going to be bringing extensive research and knowledge to bear on your chosen topic.

Lengths for this chapter vary considerably depending largely on the field of study and university regulations. A recent survey conducted by Dissertation Team revealed that some institutions require students to write an introduction that’s no longer than 5,000 words while others advise 10,000 words maximum! Clearly, if you’re working within these parameters, it follows that certain sections may need to be condensed or even omitted altogether. Some students feel dismayed at the prospect of reducing their work so drastically – but fear not! The key to producing a successful dissertation is to look at the bigger picture and ensure that you have a cogent document from which your examiner can learn.

How many words are in the dissertation conclusion?

Lengths of dissertation conclusions also vary considerably from one student to the next. In most cases, they will be around 10,000 words in length – although in some cases they can be slightly shorter or even longer still. The conclusion is about tying together all the loose ends and drawing your thesis/findings together into a satisfying package.

It’s important to remember that there are no set rules when it comes to writing these final chapters; this is entirely down to you as an individual writer and what you feel comfortable with producing. However, many students find it useful to devote between 3-5% of their overall word count on bringing everything full circle (i.e., concluding).


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How many words is a bachelor’s dissertation?

The short answer is that there’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ word count; we all write in different styles and at different paces. Many students find themselves writing more words than they originally intended during the research and drafting stage of their project – this is entirely normal and you shouldn’t be alarmed if your assignment seems to spiral out of control (in length, at least!).

Some universities advise on a minimum number of words for bachelor-level dissertations; these can vary from 10,000 up to 30,000 or more – see our article on the average dissertation length. However, it’s important not to get fixated on arbitrary targets as these can lead some students into producing work that falls below standard because they’ve simply tried to pad it out with unnecessary words.

In most cases, a bachelor’s dissertation can be written within a timeframe of 12-18 months – but the actual number of words will depend on what you decide to include in your project and how much research you need to conduct. The more wordy dissertations usually contain additional study which expands the student’s findings beyond those contained within the bare bones of their work. In some cases, this information is rarely referenced as it is not vital for supporting claims made in the thesis itself. Ultimately, only you will know when you have finished writing your document and reached an optimal word count that is both manageable and comprehensive!


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How many words should a Master’s dissertation have?

Many universities offer a standard word count for their master’s projects – although these again vary considerably from one institution to the next. In most cases, students will be required to write an assignment that falls within a range of between 40,000 and 80,000 words. However, you should always check with your course tutor as this is simply a guide amount that can be adapted if circumstances dictate.

There are no specific rules when it comes to the relationship between the length of a dissertation chapter and its word count; this is largely down to stylistic preferences and what you personally feel comfortable with producing. Generally speaking, however, many academics recommend that master’s students allocate roughly 25-35% of their overall work on writing an introduction (essentially repeating some of the key points made in the abstract) and 25-35% of their overall word count on producing a conclusion (which ties everything together).

Many students find that they need to beat the word count required by universities; this is not uncommon, particularly if you work slowly or struggle with writing. If you feel like your assignment is spiralling out of control and becoming unmanageable (with the result that it will be too long for submission), don’t hesitate to contact your tutor and ask for advice; this can often be fixed very easily by breaking up large sections of text into smaller, more manageable chunks which ensure that each chapter adheres closely to its target length.

How many words should a Ph.D. dissertation contain?

Again, there are no specific rules when it comes to this part of your dissertation; many students are tempted to write as many words as possible in order to demonstrate their high level of intellectual ability. However, this is not advisable for several reasons. Firstly, you will end up with a document that is far too long and difficult to manage – which may lead your marker into believing that you haven’t taken care or preparation and therefore cannot be awarded at least a decent mark!

Secondly, the length of your dissertation needs to coincide closely with the number of words contained in each individual chapter; if chapters vary considerably in their word count (with some being much longer than others), it can skew any average calculations carried out by markers at a later stage. If all sections within an assignment are approximately the same length, any objective marker will have an easier job of assessing your work. So don’t feel pressurised into writing as many words as possible.

Make sure that you take some time to look at past dissertation titles and word counts from students who have studied similar courses within your department or institution – this can give you a rough idea of what is required for achieving a good overall mark.

When it comes to ordering chapters, most universities recommend that a PhD candidate allocates around 25% of their overall dissertation on producing an outline (which may be split into several sections if needs be). Roughly 20-25% of words should also go towards writing introductory material intended to draw readers in and make them want to continue reading. Finally, around 30-40% of the dissertation should be focused on producing a conclusion which ties everything together. If for some reason, you have written far too much material and are struggling to fit everything into your overall word count – don’t hesitate to ask for advice!


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