Dissertation Introduction Writing Guide

Author: , Modified: 16 August 2023


Writing an introduction to your dissertation should only be done once you have finished your dissertation. Why? Because you cannot write about the study if you have not carried it out yet.

As dissertation topics, titles and the focus can change throughout the writing process, it is difficult to write an introduction before you have carried out any background research and discovered your findings.

Illustration of a dissertation introduction

What Needs to Be Included in a Dissertation Introduction?

Firstly, you need to introduce the topic of the dissertation: what the topic is, why it is relevant and what the issue is that you will be researching.

Depending on the title and topic of your dissertation, you might be required to write a brief background to the topic. For example, if you are carrying out research on a particular company, it might be worthwhile including some background information about the company for context.

Your introduction should set out the aims and objectives of the overall dissertation as well indicating some key research questions that you will be seeking to answer.

These research questions are designed to help focus the work and split up the dissertation title so that individual areas can be answered.

If the dissertation question was ‘Detecting Plagiarism in Universities: Policy Implementation for Minimising Academic Plagiarism’, research questions could be as follows:

  • Could criminalising academic plagiarism be a deterrent for university students?
  • How effective can academic plagiarism software be in detecting plagiarism in UK universities?

As you can see from the brief examples above, the idea is to narrow the focus of the overall dissertation title in order to determine a specific niche.

In this case, it is focused on UK universities and the effects that criminalising academic plagiarism could have on the number of students committing plagiarism.

Once you have ascertained what your aims, objectives, and research questions are, you need to create a ‘chapter overview’.

As the introduction is one of the last sections that you will write, the chapters will already be completed, which means that you will already know what is in each section of the dissertation.

What you need to do is summarise what each chapter will be about and a brief description of what it will do. This does not need to be long; it simply needs to be a short statement of the main points.

Generally, the introduction should not exceed 10% of the overall word count of the final dissertation.

If it does exceed this amount, consider revising this and allocating more words to other sections which gain more marks, such as the discussion (or analysis) section.

We can help

If you require assistance with writing the proposal section of your dissertation, you may want to consider our helpful service which is a great way to get a head start on your work.

Dissertation Writing Service Dissertation Introduction Example

Checklist: Writing a Dissertation Introduction


Well done on completing this checklist! You're doing great.

Dissertation Introduction FAQ's

Question: What is the ideal length for a dissertation introduction?
There is no specific hard rule for this, and the introduction section can vary depending on the disciplinary area, as well as the type of project you are undertaking. It would be worthwhile reviewing past theses in your subject to see what is expected within your field of research. As a general rule however, the length of the introduction is usually around 10% of the overall dissertation.
Question: Can I include references in my dissertation introduction?
The introduction should provide a concise research statement, along with clear aims and objectives that have been set out to achieve during the course of the study. It will be perfectly fine to use references in the introduction section and this will be required when briefly reviewing the literature on the topic to show what is already known, whilst presenting a justification of why a certain research project is being undertaken. Citing too many references wouldn't be recommended in this section however, as the purpose is to introduce the subject and not relying on previous evidence.
Question: What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a dissertation introduction?
The common mistakes that are usually made within a dissertation include the following:
  1. Having poorfly defined research aims and objectives, and misaligned research questions.
  2. Not having a strong justification as to why the topic is being studied and not providing enough context.
  3. Presenting a research topic that is too broad and not in a niche area.
  4. A lack of preparation and a clear outline of what the study intends to achieve. It is usually a great tip to form your introduction as the rest of your dissertation study has developed further. This will allow for any potential amendments, as well as being able to identify research limitations when results are being collected.

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