The Differences between an Undergraduate and a Masters Dissertation

Comparing Undergraduate and Masters Dissertations

One dissertation is not like the other – and that is certainly the case when comparing and contrasting an undergraduate dissertation and a masters dissertation.

Typically, there is not a great deal of difference between the two as the real contrast in dissertation work usually comes between a masters dissertation and a PhD dissertation or thesis. However, this guide will point out both the similarities and the differences so you know what is involved in both projects as you transition from an undergraduate degree to a masters degree.

To create a visual comparison and contrast of the two types of dissertation, check out our chart below that illustrates what is involved with each type of dissertation.

Dissertation Component Undergraduate Dissertation Masters Dissertation
Chapter Requirements Same—The chapters both tend to follow the same format and type of information required. Same—Typically, both types of dissertations have an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology description, data and analysis, discussion of results and the conclusion. They also both have a cover page and bibliography section.
Topic Requirements Same—The topic must be feasible, relevant, and important. Same
Proposal Requirements Different—Sometimes a proposal may not be required. Different—A research proposal for a masters dissertation may be more in-depth.
Research Requirements Similar Similar—A masters dissertation may require a deeper level or expanded amount of research
Writing Requirements Similar Similar—Although a masters dissertation does need to have a more sophisticated and higher quality level of writing.
Length Requirements Similar Similar—A masters dissertation could be considerably longer than an undergraduate dissertation.
Overall Instructions Different—a bit easier Different—a bit more demanding

8 Tips for Masters Dissertation Writing Success

While the expectations about the research and writing skill level will exponentially increase from undergraduate to graduate level – after all, they expect you to have learned a lot during the course of your undergraduate degree – the same basic tips apply on finding success with the final dissertation report. Here are some tips that apply to both:

  1. Choose your research topic carefully.
  2. Conduct as much research as you can on your subject.
  3. Use an outline to stay organised.
  4. Make good use of a timeline to stay on schedule.
  5. Follow all the directions given and utilise the handbook that is often supplied that has all the overall research, writing, and formatting instructions.
  6. Never plagiarise and use someone else’s words or ideas without referencing them.
  7. Work on it every day during your project term period. That means don’t wait until the last minute!
  8. Proofread, revise, and get feedback and input from your adviser, tutor, professor and peers.

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