How do I write a good dissertation or thesis?

Your dissertation should include the following areas:

Title Page (not included in the word count)

Your research paper must include a title page including the title of the dissertation, your name and student identification number, the date of submission, the course and field title.

Declaration of originality (not included in the word count)

Your research paper must also include a statement of the originality of the work. It should read as follows: “This dissertation is the work of {your name} and has been completed solely in fulfillment of a dissertation for the MSc in Public Health at …………. University.”

Acknowledgements (not included in the word count)

You should thank those who have helped you throughout the course of your research in your Acknowledgements section; this includes both personal and professional acknowledgements.

Contents Page (not included in the word count)

You should provide a Contents Page providing the page numbers of the main sections of your dissertation. The Contents Page should be followed by a List of Abbreviations used in your paper, a List of Tables included within your dissertation, a List of Figures included within your dissertation and a List of Appendices.


You should include an Abstract to provide a brief summary of your research. The Abstract should include the headings Introduction, Method, Results, Conclusion and should be no more than 400 words.


Your introduction should provide a detailed background to your chosen research topic including the epidemiology of your chosen public health issue. Your introduction should include a rationale of why your chosen research is important. At the end of this section you should introduce the purpose of your research, the research question(s), your aim, and objectives.


In the Method section, you should provide detail of how you achieved your aim and objectives in answer of your research question(s). You should provide a level of detail that would enable others to replicate your work exactly. This could include, for example if completing a narrative review, a detailed search strategy including the search terms used and how they have been combined using Boolean operators, inclusion and exclusion criteria, the sources of information, and the date restrictions of your search to identify the existing evidence in answer of your research question(s). In addition, you should identify the tools used to critically appraise the identified evidence including detail of their application. You may be Thematically Analyzing the identified evidence, in which case, a detailed explanation of how this, or indeed other analyses, have been conducted should be included. Please note, these are examples of what you might include and are not an exhaustive list of what to include in your methods section.


This section should present the findings from your research in answer of the research question(s). If completing a narrative review, this could include for example, a Prisma flow diagram outlining the results of your search strategy, a data extraction table, and a critical analysis of the included evidence. If conducting a Thematic Analysis, then the results of this analysis would be included in this section also. Again, please note that these are just examples and are not an exhaustive list of what to include in your results section.


This section should discuss what the results mean, and why they matter in relation to your research question(s). You will explain how your findings fit with what other researchers have found, current public health practice, and policy, referring to your wider reading presented in your Introduction. You will discuss recommendations and the implications for practice, identify the perspectives for future research, discuss the strengths and limitations of your research and draw conclusions from your findings.

Reflective Account

You should include a Reflective Account detailing your experience and development throughout completion of this research. This is your chance to reflect on what you have learnt during this research, the decisions that you made, what went well, what areas could be improved and what you would do differently if you were to complete this research again. You are required to use a recognised model of reflection to support the development of your reflective account. In total, the reflective account should be no more than 2,500 words.

References (not included in the word count)

Your reference section allows the reader of your work to trace the sources of information that you have used. It is very important to reference your work accurately using the Harvard referencing format. The Harvard referencing guide can be found on the London Metropolitan library webpages.

Appendices (not included in the word count)

Any supporting information relevant to the research should be included in an appendices. This is not strictly essential; the research report should include all of the information required to adequately answer your research question(s) and be understandable to the reader without having to refer to your appendices.