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How Long Should A Nursing Dissertation Be?

Published by at November 24th, 2022 , Revised On January 26, 2023

There is no definitive answer to the question of how long a nursing dissertation should be. Several factors combine to influence the length of a dissertation. A dissertation in the humanities and engineering is usually longer than in business and finance.

In most cases, it is recommended to follow the guidelines provided by your university to ensure your dissertation paper meets all the necessary criteria, including the length. Different schools and universities have specific goals and objectives, so it is important to read the handbook in detail to avoid any surprises later on.

Also, consider having a word with your assigned supervisor to see if they have any helpful insights and advice about the nursing dissertation project.

Make sure to follow the guidelines from the beginning to understand the requirements and expectations clearly, so it will be easier for you to structure your work and organise ideas.

The number of words for a nursing dissertation varies considerably depending on the research topic, educational organisation and level of education.

A typical dissertation in nursing follows the criteria listed below;

  • An Undergraduate dissertation is usually between 8,000 and 15,000 words.
  • A master’s dissertation is usually 12,000 to 50,000 words.
  • A typical doctoral dissertation (PhD) varies between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

However, these are not fixed guidelines; you may have a word count that is more or less than these numbers, depending on your university’s criteria.

Also read: Nursing Dissertation Topics

1.1 An Undergraduate Nursing Dissertation

An undergraduate dissertation is a comprehensive piece of writing that combines original research and writing on a single topic. The topic is often chosen based on a student’s area of interest, typically finished in the final year of a Nursing degree programme. Compared to a conventional module, it enables the learner to go deeper into a specific subject. Such dissertations range in length from only 8,000 to 15,000 words.

1.1.1 How Long is an Undergraduate Nursing Dissertation

Topic selection: The topic for the dissertation must be chosen by the student at the end of their penultimate year of study. As it is difficult and risky to change the topic once you have started your studies, you should choose a topic that can sustain your interest over a more extended period.

Search For a Supervisor: The process for assigning supervisors at a university can be formal or as simple as a student approaching a faculty member they would like to work with. Before registering a desired area of research, it may be beneficial to contact potential supervisors as they may offer suggestions on improving your proposed topic and begin the research process.

Outline: At the beginning of the module for the UG nursing dissertation, you must prepare a short overview of the topic, not exceeding two to three pages. A full bibliography and chapter summary should also be included. By this time, you should have decided on a more focused part of your topic, which you should shape into a study title with the help of your supervisor.

Writing the Nursing Dissertation Paper. At this point, your research will focus on achieving your nursing dissertation objectives. It would help if you also started writing as soon as possible. Most nursing schools require students to deliver a short research proposal or an early draft at the end of the first semester.

Final Piece: When you have finished writing, you should have about five to six chapters, including an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, discussion and a conclusion. You must follow the format according to the university’s requirements and make sure that you cite all your sources correctly.

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1.2 Master’s Nursing Dissertation Length

The length of a Master’s dissertation in nursing is longer than that of an undergraduate dissertation. It is usually between 12 000 and 50 000 words, although the course length, academic institution and country of nationality can significantly influence this figure. You will need to define and explore certain nursing aspects of your research to address your overall research topic.

A Master’s dissertation in nursing allows you to;

  • Conduct more in-depth research on your topic than is possible at the undergraduate level.
  • Organise your work effectively so that each part serves as a stage in a clear and compelling overall argument.
  • Crate outline and fine-tune a suitable study approach between a qualitative and quantitative method.

1.2.1 How Long is a Masters Nursing Dissertation

As you might imagine, no two dissertations have the same format, especially considering that Nursing Master’s programmes vary from university to university and country to country.

However, the typical structure of a Master’s dissertation consists of a few essential elements.

Abstract: The abstract, usually around 300 words long, serves as a concise summary of your dissertation.

Introduction: In this chapter, you set out your aims and the scope of your study and provide the framework for the remaining chapters of your dissertation. The introduction, usually between 1,000 -2,500 words, sets up the problem, provides background information and establishes the precise aim and objectives of the research.

Literature Review: In the literature review chapter, the previously published literature on your topic is examined, and several arguments and counter-arguments are made. Sometimes the introduction is included in the literature review or follows directly after the introduction. Most literature reviews are between 3000 and 6000 words.

Research methods: This nursing dissertation chapter typically has a word count of between 1500- 2500 words.

Findings/outcomes: Here, you will present the findings of your work if your research involved a survey or experiment of some kind. This chapter contains between 4000-6000 words.

Discussion: The discussion makes up most of your dissertation and should be thoughtfully organised using several connected chapters. The length of this section will be determined by the total number of words in your dissertation.

Conclusion: Here, you should summarise the findings from the previous discussion chapters and present the conclusions of your thesis based on the data and rationale you have examined. The length of this part of the Master’s thesis is between 1 500 and 2000 words.

Citations and bibliography: You should keep a detailed, orderly list of all the works, references or books you have cited in planning and writing your dissertation.

Appendix: Many dissertations do not require appendices, but you may need to include additional information to support your arguments. This may be questionnaires or the transcripts of interviews.

You can expect a higher academic grade if your dissertation ticks the criterion. Regardless of the university, every student can find something they like about their field. Choose your area of interest, check that you meet the specific guidelines, and you’re done!

1.3 PhD Nursing Dissertation Length

It is essential to plan your PHD nursing dissertation before you start writing. A PhD student should know how to divide their time and energy between many parts of the dissertation. Also, some things need to be written first and cannot be written last, and the reverse is also true. Therefore, sound planning is essential.

1.3.1 How Long is a PhD Nursing Dissertation?

Abstract: The abstract, which should be written last, is the first section of the actual dissertation. It briefly describes the study conducted, explaining the aims and results to the reader. There is usually a strict word limit of 200 to 300 words.

Introduction: The introduction chapter highlights the relevance and importance of the research as well as the historical context. The main challenge is highlighting problems and knowledge gaps while developing substantial research questions. The average length of a thesis introduction is about 15-20 pages, as the introduction usually accounts for 10% of the total word count.

Literature Review: The literature review aims to present the results of previous studies. It serves as a starting point for your further work. It is important to consider all aspects. This chapter is, on average, 30 to 40 pages long.

Methodology: The next step is to describe the strategy and the research methods for the nursing dissertation you chose for your research. You need to describe each one and explain why you are using it. Expect to write about 15-20 pages.

Findings: The research results should then be presented. Each result must be relevant and linked back to the objectives. The findings chapter is 10 and 15 % of the total word count.

Discussion: The results, their implications and the limitations of the research should be interpreted next. This is the most critical aspect of the thesis. It accounts for about 30-40% of the total word count. How much time should be spent on completing a dissertation?

Conclusion/Recommendations: The conclusion should summarise the whole study. It takes between 5 and 7 percent of the total word count.

Still, despite these standard rules, each institute has its own set of rules. You’re to be informed on the minimal and maximal word count permitted, which will assist you significantly.

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About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.

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