The dissertation should be in the following format:

Introduction                                                                1,000 words

The Literature Review                                                3,500 words

Research Methodology                                               1,500  words

Presentation of Findings                                             1,500  words

Discussion                                                                   3,000 words

Conclusion and Recommendations                             1,500  words




Each section should begin on a separate page.

Your final submission must be between 11.000 words, including figures and tables and excluding appendices.

Introduction and Background to Research

The introduction (often the last chapter to be written) should set the scene and be used as a guide to the finished structure of the dissertation. It should outline the chosen topic, demonstrate why the topic is interesting and important, identify the nature and aims or hypotheses of the research, and show how the approach taken in the study is an advance on previous work. One of the criteria for success is the relationship between a student’s ability to define a research question and then to answer it. The findings at the end may be useful and well-supported, but if they do not answer the question which the examiner thought was being taken on at the beginning, then the dissertation may not be rated highly.

Literature Review

There should be a satisfactory review of literature related to the topic of your research investigation which casts light upon the dissertation and its objectives.  This should be undertaken before any other work such as data collection.  Successful completion of this is a key stage in the dissertation process and for justifying your aims.  It may be that this chapter will also include the presentation of theoretical concepts you are testing or challenging in your dissertation




If students are unable to carry out primary research there is the possibility of submitting a Dissertation based purely on Secondary Data Research.  This involves the following:

  • The utilization of existing published data, such as statistical records, Mintel and Keynote reports, trade magazines, television and radio programs, newspapers, marketing research , financial records all of which were initially collected for the purposes of a prior research study.

Students who are completing such a dissertation need to understand how to complete appropriate analysis of secondary data, which may include discourse or statistical analysis for example.  In addition students will be expected to develop their own conceptual framework from the secondary data collected.


As the literature review is of significantly more importance where only secondary research in undertaken, for example the development of a conceptual framework, the % for the literature review will be increased from 20% to 30%. To compensate for this increase, as there is no analysis and discussion of primary data, the % weighting for the Results, Analysis and Discussion chapter is reduced from 40% to 30%. You will still need to present the results, analysis and discussion of your findings from your secondary data search.


Case Study Approach 

You should explain:

  • Why a case study approach is the most appropriate method to tackle the research questions.
  • Why you have used a particular case study. e.g. previous research might have ignored certain places, a problem or issue might be especially apparent in that area, or the area may be representative of the general pattern.
  • The way in which you have collected information for these case studies, is important to specify the means by which this will be conducted.

  Presentation of Findings and Discussion of Results

This is the chapter where you present the analyses of your findings, drawn from the research methods used and analytical techniques you employed.  This chapter should answer the aims and objectives you set in your Introduction (or possibly at the end of your Literature Review) and be related to your literature review.  It should be an objective presentation which does not employ your opinions. Every finding should be discussed.  What patterns have emerged?  What is the difference between the ideas and views discussed in your literature review and your findings.  How do the main points you are making change your understanding of the topic.



This chapter presents a summary of the main findings as a series of statements.  It offers conclusions, and recommendations and directions for future research in the light of your findings.  Be sure to restate the general aim of the research and if this has been adequately addresses.

You may also show your concerns at this point with the limitations of your data collection and/or analysis and how these could have been improved.

It is frequently the case that one of the researcher’s recommendations is that more research needs to be done. This is perfectly normal and you must not be afraid of identifying more questions that need to be answered, as result of your research, than you have been able to address in the dissertation.


Throughout your dissertation you will have been referring to the work of other people.  This must be properly referenced as a reader may wish to consult the original text.  It is essential to cite ALL sources of references and to acknowledge works consulted.

In the text you should refer to pieces of work in a consistent manner.  The required method for doing so is the Harvard system, as noted below:

Harvard System

References are indicated in the text as follows:

(Name, Date) e.g.   –  (Jones, 1999)

Where there are two authors:

(Name and Name, Date) e.g.  –  (Jones and Kemp, 1998)

Where there are more than two authors, all authors should be listed on first use, thereafter ‘et al’ is acceptable:

(Name et al, Date) e.g.  –  (Jones et al, 1991)

Use a,b,c etc. to indicate different publications by the same author(s) in the same year.

e.g.   …In contrast to others (Jones, 1996a; Jones, 1996b Norman, 1988;),  Mathews (1999) suggested that…

When listing authors in this way you must use either alphabetical (names as listed above) or chronological order (date of publication as listed below), so it is also feasible to write:

e.g.   …In contrast to others (Norman 1988, Jones 1996a, Jones 1996b), Mathews (1999) suggested that…

Short quotes, less than three lines of typescript should be run into the text like this:  “Most writers, even professionals, have trouble getting started” (Becker, 1986:45).

Where you have a longer quote, indent it, single-spaced with no quote marks:

They start over and over again, destroying reams of paper, working over the first sentence or paragraph again and again as they find each successive try unsatisfactory in some new way (Becker, 198:45).

Note where the full stop occurs in these quotes.  The source must be part of the sentence. Please also note that page numbers are given for quotes.

One point: try not to use too many quotes, make sure the ones you use are pertinent, otherwise it ends up messy and disjointed – they will seldom all be relevant. Quotes should rarely exceed 8 lines.

At the end of the dissertation you will include a list of references in alphabetical order  –  books, journals, conference papers etc. all together.  The name of the book, journal, conference paper should be underlined and the date of publication, place of publication and publisher  given e.g.

Balchin, P. and Bull, G. (1987)  Regional and Urban Economics London:  Harper

Inverted commas should be used with chapters from edited collections, and article titles e.g.

Bateley, R. (1989)  ‘London Docklands:  An Analysis of Power Relations Between UDCs and Local Government’  Public Administration  Vol. 67  pp167-187

Cardiff City Council (1971)  South Butetown:  Proposals for the Seventies  Cardiff: Planning Department  

Cawson, A. (1985)  ‘Corporatism and Local Politics’ in Grant, W. (Ed.)  The Political Economy of Corporatism  London:  Macmillan

Duffy, H.  (1989) ‘ Title of Article’  London: Financial Times 28th February


Saunders, P.  (1981a)  Social Theory and the Urban Question  London:  Hutchinson

Saunders, P.  (1981b)  ‘Notes on the specificity of the Local State’ in Boddy, M. and Fudge, C.  (Eds)  The Local State:  Theory and Practice  Working Paper 20 University of Bristol  –  SAUS

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