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Top Advice on How Long a Dissertation Should be

Best advice on length of dissertation

Are you a student working toward a PhD degree? Have you started working on your dissertation? Yes? Well, we understand the pressure you’re under. After all, completing such a task is no easy feat. That is because dissertations are some of the most intense papers students will ever write. And they pose a few problems too. For example, most students are left with rising stress and anxiety, while some even fail to keep up with the pressure.

However, there is good news. Students can complete their dissertations. All it takes is the right preparation. For example, there are several key pieces of advice students can follow regarding their dissertation writing. So, let’s answer the main question without any further delay. “How long is a dissertation? And what advice can we give you to improve yours?”

Keep reading and learn more about how you can make your dissertation.

A Look at Dissertation Length by Chapters

The length of a dissertation can be hard for students to narrow down. After all, there are several factors they need to consider before determining how long it should be. Firstly, our dissertation formatting service recommends focusing on the discipline. For example, PhD humanities papers are longer than those in science subjects. As a result, research length can vary.

Secondly, students need to follow the guidelines of their institution. Every university or school has their own set of requirements for dissertations. These motives and visions can influence how you write your dissertation. And it is all available in your student handbooks.

In addition, students also work with an assigned committee member, who provides them with useful insight and advice. Ultimately, these factors help the students determine how long their dissertation should be. Thus, helping them figure out how to organise and structure their write-up.

However, there are still sometimes approximate values for length. And students can use them to estimate how long they need to write. Each stage has an approximate word count. These include 5000 to 8000 (undergraduate), 10,000 to 15,000 (Masters), and over 50,000 (PhD) respectively.

But let’s break it down further:

1. Introduction

Chapter one. The introduction of your dissertation. This chapter provides readers with the necessary background information while presenting the research’s relevance or significance. It is similar to the abstract. However, the main task is quite simple: identify the problems and gaps. It allows the readers to focus on the research questions.

The length of this chapter isn’t fixed. But it should approximately take up around 10 per cent of the total word count. That means it should be roughly 15 pages long.

2. Literature Review

Chapter two is your dissertation literature review. It requires students to simply present data. So, it’s not very complex. Students need to add in all previous research findings. Thus, giving the reader a clear view of the current state of your research topic. This chapter does not include any explanations or discussion. Instead, it serves a foundational purpose for the rest of your work. And it’s crucial to investigate further.

On average, this chapter’s length can be slightly longer. This is because there may be significant research you want to present. However, try keeping the length between 30 to 40 pages.

3. Methodology

Up next is chapter three. The methodology section. This section is also quite short. However, it varies depending on the methods you used. Here, students state how they conducted their research. Focusing on expressing it in a step-by-step or follow-along format. In addition, students will require a justification for why they have used a particular research method. Thus, expressing how you are filling the gaps in existing research with your own.

The length of the methods chapter is around 10 pages. Although, it can be shorter if you define your methodology in fewer words. Students should not worry about this section of their dissertation. However, if they do, our effective dissertation guides are here to help.

4. Results

Once you finish justifying the methodology, you need to move on to your research findings. This is the next chapter of your dissertation—the results. It’s where students simply present the data their research produces. But it’s important to only focus on the presentation aspect. After all, it’s not time to discuss the details. Students can add everything from surveys to interviews and even tables. There’s only one catch: it has to be relevant!

The length of your results chapter should be around 5 per cent of the overall dissertation. That works out to roughly 7 or 8 pages.

5. Discussion

After that comes the discussion—Chapter five. Here, students should focus their efforts on the interpretations, limitations and implications of their findings. Thus, expressing everything their work means to the reader. It’s incredibly important for readers to understand what your research means for the future of your topic or area of focus. So, the discussion chapter is the most important part of the work.

As the most integral section of the dissertation, the discussion chapter is also the longest. It is about 40 per cent of the overall word count. Want to make it easier? Use our handy 15 steps to write an effective discussion!

6. Conclusion

Lastly, we arrive at the final chapter of your dissertation. The conclusion is where students will focus on summarising their whole work. So, it’s important to include all research you’ve conducted. The conclusion is similar to the discussion chapter. But it takes it one step further by tying everything together with the research questions as the focal point. It’s important to remember students cannot add any new information to their conclusion.

This section should be short. And it should not exceed 5 to 7 per cent of the word count. For more information, students can check our guide on how to write a dissertation.

Guidelines Provided by the University

Students may need to consider the guidelines their university provides. For example, most institutions recommend dissertations be 200 to 300 pages long. And most have strict formatting requirements that limit what students need to do. Any deviation from the set requirements can lead to rejection. Therefore, our team recommends students focus completely on their guidelines.

Students may need to note the language, length, page and text requirements, margins, and font and point size. However, these are not where the requirements stop. Institution guidelines often extend to every part of the dissertation. They can also include requirements for individual chapters, title pages, figures and tables, supplemental material and even copyright statements. So, ensure you go through them.

Dissertation Length According to Topic

Picking a dissertation topic can be quite a challenge. Even the brightest students tend to struggle with it sometimes. This is because the dissertation topic dictates the direction of your work. So, it’s no surprise that students may be wondering how they can affect the dissertation length or word count. After all, if it determines the direction, then it should impact the size.

However, according to our dissertation writing service, your dissertation topic can have little effect on the overall length. This is because it will only affect certain chapters in a minor way, such as the literature review, due to the amount of existing research or the methodology on that topic.


In the end, many factors affect the length of the dissertation. But students must remember they don’t have to adhere to a fixed word count strictly. Instead, it’s a range of around 200 to 300 pages. Yet, even that is an estimate. After all, we’ve discussed that every chapter can vary in length. Some can range from 5 per cent of the word count to others over 40 per cent. Thus, keeping an open mind is the only solution to writing your dissertation well.

Whatever the case may be, students should remain hopeful. Dissertations are always going to be difficult and long. But students have options to complete them on time. You can even contact us if you’re struggling to meet the word count.

So, good luck with your writing. And use the list above to guide you. Or follow the summary below if you need a recap.


A summary of everything our dissertation team has discussed above.

Dissertation Length

The average dissertation needs to be roughly 200 to 300 pages in length. But the word count can be further broken down depending on the level. For example, undergraduate (5000 to 8000 words), master (10,000 to 15,000 words), and PhD (over 50,000 words). However, it’s better to focus on the individual chapters instead of relying on the total word count.

Dissertation length by chapter

These are the breakdown in percentage or page count for each chapter of your dissertation.

  • Introduction: 10% or 15 pages.
  • Literature Review: 30 to 40 pages.
  • Methodology: 10 pages.
  • Results: 5% or 7 to 8 pages.
  • Discussion: 40% of the word count.
  • Conclusion: 5 to 7% of the word count.

Please note that any remaining percentage may be added to the remaining sections like the abstract or bibliography.

Dissertation length by topic

The topic of your dissertation can affect the word count. But this is only to a minimal degree. For example, it can add to certain chapters like the literature review or methodology. However, other chapters like the introduction, discussion, and conclusion will not be affected.