Blog Topics, Tips and tricks

Resources for structuring your thesis

A thesis is a big piece of writing. If you’re anything like me, you’re becoming increasingly aware of this as the deadline approaches… Some of us will find our thesis structure emerges effortlessly, others of us will struggle to think how best to put it together. So I’ve rounded up some top tips and useful blogs and websites that might help you get your head around it.

Top tips:

  1. Write a thesis plan – make it as detailed as you can (this will vary depending on how far along you are), describe each chapter and what it does in the thesis. This will help with tip number 2.
  2. Try to think of your project as a whole – the structure needs to flow and create a coherent piece of work. Work out how to do this in your plan.
  3. Draft and re-draft – you’re not obliged to go with the structure you start out with. Experiment with moving things around and don’t be afraid to change things as your project develops.
  4. Stationery! Use post-it notes, index cards, plain pen and paper to visualise the structure of your thesis and check it makes sense.
  5. Have a look at other theses – your university (and others!) will most likely have an online library brimming with theses in your field. Have a flick through to get some ideas of what is standard and what is a bit more flexible.
  6. Speak to your supervisors – seems obvious but worth mentioning. They have probably read lots of theses and can give you some insight into what will work best for your project.

Resources:

  1. This website gives a full rundown of how to structure a thesis and what key characteristics each section needs: Structuring a thesis.
  2. UNSW Syndey provides a brief overview of the key elements of a thesis: Thesis Structure.
  3. This blog will bring you back down to earth if you’re spiralling out of control and describes how to create an effective thesis structure. It focusses on “hard” sciences, but it’s got some really useful tips: How to write a thesis without losing your mind.
  4. Vitae gives an overview of thesis structure and has other resources for thesis writing: Structuring your thesis.
  5. The Times provides top 10 tips for thesis writing more generally: 10 tips for writing a PhD thesis.

Happy structuring!


Emma Seddon is a Sociology PhD student at Newcastle and co-convenor for the BSA PGForum.

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