History Dissertation Layout: 5 Points You Need To Keep In Mind

No matter what branch of history you specialize in, you’re history dissertation will be the single document by which your entire graduate study will be evaluated upon. For many students it also represents the first major document by which their professional lives begin. The layout is often thought to be rather standard across all branches of history, but if you don’t keep certain things in mind you can soon find yourself falling off the rails. This being said, here are the five points you need to know:

  1. Discuss details with your graduate advisor
  2. The very first point to keep in mind is to use your graduate advisor as a resource as much as possible. Before starting your work or even developing your topic, spend some time going over expectations. You might be able to review some sample copies or at least have an idea of what requirements you need to meet in order to complete and submit a top-notch document.

  3. Decide on a chronological or logical structure
  4. Usually, you won’t have do any sort of lab work when writing a history graduate project, but you might find that you do have to consider either a chronological or a logical structure in order to present your argument. This should be decided early in the process because it can help you in your approach towards the study.

  5. Your proposal should mirror your dissertation
  6. It would be a good idea to have some idea about the structure of your dissertation before writing your proposal then write your proposal to mirror that structure. This is a great way to get preliminary feedback from your advisor who may suggest you rearrange material. You can then use this information when you get down to structuring the final project.

  7. Use well-placed headers and sub-headers
  8. In writing an academic document of this length you’re going to have a large amount of pages covering a lot of information. Most sections will naturally make ideal headers (e.g., introduction, research methods, findings, etc.), but some sections can be further broken up into sub-headers, especially if three is a lot of material covered in each.

  9. Keep all other sections in their appropriate place
  10. Finally, there are some other common sections to keep in their right place. Keep your acknowledgements at the front and your references and appendices in the back. Be sure to double check the table of contents to ensure that it accounts for these sections. And always consult with an experienced writer to double check your work.


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