Understanding the structure of thesis chapterisation

By Priya Chetty on September 16, 2021

One of the basic steps in planning a thesis writing process is to decide how it should be structured. A thesis should have at least 5 chapters depending on its scope. This is known as the thesis chapterisation scheme. Deciding on the thesis chapterisation scheme is important because it helps organise data and critical findings in a legible manner. While deciding on the thesis chapterisation, you should ask yourself:

  1. What are the University’s rules regarding the chapterisation?
  2. How should a thesis’ contents be commonly arranged?
  3. How much data to present?
  4. What is the nature of the data to present?
  5. Does the thesis fall in the technical or non-technical category?

How is the thesis chapterisation scheme framed?

The thesis chapterisation should be presented while introducing the thesis’s objectives and aims the introduction. It should be placed at the end of the introduction to the thesis chapter just before the chapter summary. It should range from 200 to 400 words. It can also be presented as a diagram.

However, before framing the chapterisation, decide on all the chapters of your thesis. The key point to remember while preparing the thesis chapterisation is to keep it short and informative. Do not dive too deep into the thesis contents, but at the same time, give the reader an idea of what to expect.

Steps in deciding the chapterisation scheme

The thesis structure will differ depending on the subject, university rules and the research scope. For instance, a thesis in a non-technical subject like education and cultural studies will be more focused on theory, concepts, and cases rather than programming.

  1. Follow the common pattern: Most researchers follow the same format for writing a thesis. This includes a background to the problem, followed by a review of the literature, research methodology, data analysis and conclusion. This format is widely accepted by many institutions, so you may decide to stick with it for convenience’s sake.
  2. Technical subjects need more chapters: Technical subjects like computer sciences and civil engineering emphasise exploration and development. So instead of one chapter for data analysis, technical subjects require three or more chapters focusing on different aspects like data, methodology and the results. The chapters are comparatively shorter too.
  3. Vastness of the research methodology: Bigger methodologies require more chapters. A thesis commonly includes three types of primary data that are obtained from surveys, interviews and focus group discussions. Dedicating different chapters to different types of data collection ensures that you have given an equal focus on every methodology and its findings will look more fragmented and organised.
  4. Determine the word count: A thesis can have 1,00,000 words or more, depending upon university regulations. In such cases, you will need more than five chapters to avoid making it seem repetitive, disconnected, and boring.
  5. Don’t skip the essentials: No matter how many chapters you choose to have, it is not advisable to skip the basic parts- the background, literature review, and data analysis. They form the foundation of your research while the remaining chapters are the pillars supporting it.
  6. Text or diagram: The thesis chapterisation section can be presented in the form of text or diagram. While text explanation is more popular and widely accepted, diagrams are gaining momentum in some departments for a more sleek and interactive look.

A typical thesis chapterisation scheme

1Title PageTitle of the Thesis,
University logo,
researcher’s name,
supervisor’s name,
program name and,
2AbstractA summary of the research aim and objectives,
literature review findings,
research gap,
The abstract should range from 300 to 3000 words.
3AcknowledgementsA note of appreciation to the contributors and silent supporters of the research. Keep the statement short and mention the names of the people and their role in the research.
4Table of contentsLists every element of every thesis section sequentially. It also presents its corresponding page number. There are tools to generate it automatically on MS Word and Mac Pages.
5Introduction ChapterBackground of the study,
research gap,
aim and objectives,
research questions,
the significance of the study,
the scope of the research and,
chapterisation scheme.
6Literature review chapterSynthesis of at least 30 studies conducted recently on the topic,
critical review,
theoretical framework,
empirical review or systematic review,
research gaps,
conceptual framework and,
7Research methodology chapterResearch type or strategy,
data type,
research philosophy,
sampling plan (target population characteristics, sample size, sampling type),
data collection process,
questionnaire format,
data analysis process,
validity, reliability and,
the authenticity of data,
ethical considerations and,
8Data analysis chapterIntroduction,
demographic profile,
general background,
inferential analysis (hypothesis testing).
Interview or focus group discussion:
demographic profile,
thematic analysis,
9Discussion and findings chapterIntroduction,
findings of secondary research,
findings of primary research,
10Conclusion and recommendationsIntroduction,
conclusion (arranged research-question wise),
limitations of the study,
scope for further research.
results from primary data analysis.
Thesis chapterisation
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The chapterisation scheme for technical subjects like information technology, information systems, and computer sciences is different. This is because of a more complex analysis like the development and verification of a new algorithm or framework. Such researches involve multiple steps in analysis like reviewing, coding and developing, testing, comparing and finalising a model.

  1. Chapter 4: Data Characteristics
  2. Chapter 5: Development
  3. Chapter 6: Testing

It may also require a separate chapter for the recommended framework or model or architecture of the system. While framing the chapterisation, emphasis more on the technical aspect rather than theories.  

A sample chapterisation scheme

Introduction: This chapter includes a basic understanding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the evolution of the modern education system in the nation. The chapter provides a brief overview of the education system, the importance of higher education and how higher education institutions have had an impact on the education sector. 

Additionally, this chapter also provides the aims and objectives of the research and mentions the research questions as well as the importance of this research in academic and practical aspects.

Literature review: This chapter is a comprehensive review of existing literature related to the study. It provides an extensive understanding of the internationalization of higher education and the emergence of different internationalization models and how internationalization has impacted the quality of higher education (challenges and opportunities). It will shed the light on the main players in higher education and how each player contributes to the quality of the education system. The chapter also discusses the evolution of offshore programmes as part of transitional education in different contexts. It also presents the developed theoretical framework of the research, providing the basis of the overall structure of the research by detailing various theoretical aspects of the issue at hand, such as the stakeholder theory, assessments and audits related to education quality, evaluation of performance in education and various policies, design, curriculum and resources related to education, among others. Upon developing the theoretical framework, their relevance to the study’s purpose has been established.

Research methodology: This chapter provides the research methodology, which includes qualitative as well as quantitative research, and uses semi-structured interviews as well as focus group discussions for data collection, as well as secondary assessments. The chapter also discusses the research design, strategy, design, methods, and study hypothesis.

Data analysis: This chapter includes an assessment of the primary data collected through qualitative and quantitative measures, as well as an inferential analysis of the semi-structured interviews and focuses group discussions conducted. The chapter also includes figures and graphs for better assessments of the results.

Discussion and findings: It presents the results of the research, and provides a discussion and summary on the basis of the inferences drawn from the results.

Conclusion and recommendations: This chapter includes recommendations for future research as well as concludes the research by providing a summary and future scope of the present research.



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