How Many Words is a Dissertation? 10000 or 15000?

When I was doing my undergraduate program in my third year, I was expected to write a dissertation which was essential for my degree.

I, completely clueless, went to my professor for guidelines. There I got to know that my dissertation is supposed to be a total of FIFTEEN THOUSAND words!! Yes! You read that right fifteen thousand words! My first thought was,

“How on earth am I supposed to write fifteen thousand words of endless banter on one topic?”

My professor immediately had me sit down and taught me one of the best lessons I could learn.

“Even the biggest mountain can turn into a molehill when you divide and conquer.”

What Is A Dissertation?

To simply put dissertation is a nightmare that is enforced on students while completing their degree. It takes its dreadful roots from the Latin word, dissertates, which means to debate. Thus, a dissertation studies a particular topic and presents a different point of view on that particular subject.

This long piece of academic paper, which we all are forced to write is required for your degree. I absolutely hate to inform you that without your final dissertation your degree will be incomplete.

I know, I know, your next question is “Are all dissertations 15,000 words?” to answer this, an undergraduate dissertation can range from 10000 words to 15000 words depending on the requirement of your institute. For most undergraduate programmes, the dissertation is usually 15000 words. To know your dissertation’s length, you need to consider the programme you’re enrolled in, your institute’s requirements, field of study, and topic.

Dissertation Structure

The real question is, how do you manage to write and divide these fifteen thousand words? Knowing how to structure your dissertation is equivalent to having pixie dust… it isn’t as magical but does the thing.

Many students buy dissertation proposal writing service UK and then write the actual dissertation themselves; therefore, they need the pixie dust to help understand each chapter’s division of words and weightage.

To manage a fifteen thousand word dissertation, you should follow a proper structure so that everything is organised and well put. While writing a dissertation, each chapter should be allotted its word count to simplify the division of words and information. To provide dissertation help with the structure of work, the weightage of each chapter is divided hence making the word count division easier.

Coming to the lesson my professor gave me. My professor taught me that we need to understand how each dissertation chapter is weighed and divided according to the required word count.

Dissertations have set weights; after you understand the weightage of each section, you can easily divide your word count accordingly.

Undergraduate Dissertation Structure

This is where the nightmare begins, the first dissertation that I had to perform was my undergraduate dissertation which normally is around 10,000 to 15,000 words. The structure of a 15,000-word dissertation is as follows:


Generally, a masters dissertation is 15,000 to 20,000 words long. Although the word count changes but the weightage remain similar. For a 20,000 word dissertation, the breakup would be as follows:


If you’re anything like me, then for you this is the end game of the nightmare that has been going on for years. The last dissertation I performed was in PhD which is 60,000 to 80,000 words long. For an 80,000 word dissertation, the breakup would be as follows:

Keeping this breakup in mind while working on your research is essential because you must complete the required word count. So please don’t go all cray-cray like me while writing your first dissertation. Instead, keep calm, take a deep breath and follow the mantra of divide and conquer.

I hope this guide was able to help you understand the structure for your 15000 words dissertation.

Happy writing!



Writing is my passion! Hi, I am Dherni John, and for me, writing is an escape. I am a Ph.D expert editor & proofreader

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dherni John

Writing is my passion! Hi, I am Dherni John, and for me, writing is an escape. I am a Ph.D expert editor & proofreader