Dissertations and Theses guidance

You may need to complete a dissertation for your course, these guides take you through how to approach this large piece of written work, how to complete your literature review, structure your writing and format your work.

The Library has created a reading list featuring various online resources to help you complete your dissertation.

Approaching your dissertation or thesis

Learn about the importance of choosing a topic you are curious to learn more about, how to narrow the scope of your research, how to write your research proposal and an introduction to research methods.

  • Estimated duration is 15 minutes.

Writing your Dissertation or Thesis

Learn how to get started, how to work with your supervisor and how to structure your dissertation.

  • Estimated duration is 30 minutes.

Approaching a literature review

Learn about planning your search, finding literature, evaluating and organising your material and writing your review.

  • Estimated duration is 60 minutes.
Formatting your dissertation - video guides

Formatting your work

Styles: Using the 'Normal' style

Styles are the foundation of a Word document. And it begins with the 'Normal' style. Change its attributes to suit the requirements of dissertation/thesis.

Styles: Using 'Heading' styles

Apply 'Heading' styles to the headings and sub-headings in your document, and save yourself lots of effort. Use them to control the appearance of your headings (the font type, size and colour), to create an automatic Table of Contents, and introduce multilevel numbering to your headings.

Using Multilevel numbering for headings

Want to introduce a numbered hierarchical structure to your document? Then add Multilevel numbering to the 'Heading' styles that you have applied to the headings in your document. For example, 1. 1.1, 1.2, 2., 2.1, 2.1.1

Working smarter

Table of Contents

Let Word do the hard work for you. Once you have applied 'Heading' styles to your document, you can create an automatic Table of Contents with a few mouse clicks. Update the listing at any time as you continue to edit your work.


Achieve consistent looking numbered labels for your figures and tables by using the Caption tool. You can save huge amounts of time and effort by then creating an automatic listing for them.

Page Breaks

Why use them? Well, do you use the Enter key to make a heading appear at the top of a new page, only to find that as you continue to edit your document the heading moves up or down the page? Not with Page Breaks!

Structuring your work

Section Breaks: Changing page numbering

A dissertation/thesis typically has different types of page numbering in its footers. To feature a title page with no page numbering, then a series of pages with small Roman numerals, followed by your main document displaying standard Arabic page numbering – you need Section Breaks.

Section Breaks: Changing page orientation

You can change the page orientation within your document by using Section Breaks. You can then switch from portrait to landscape to accommodate e.g. a large image, and then switch back to portrait orientation for the remainder of the document.

Find dissertations and theses

You can access past Salford theses and previous dissertations and theses from other institutions. Looking at past dissertations can help give you an idea of what other research has been done in your subject area and can also help give you an idea of what a dissertation looks like. Find out how to search for dissertations and theses