An MSc dissertation is a long, original, investigation-based document that a university student writes as the final project in earning a Master of Science (MSc) degree. MSc dissertations may be known at some universities as MSc theses. In most cases, there is no difference between an MSc dissertation and an MSc thesis. Both should be distinguished from a Ph.D. dissertation, which is the culminating project of a doctoral degree and is typically required to be much longer and more in-depth than an MSc dissertation or thesis.
Because an MSc dissertation is composed for a Master of Science degree, the majority of MSc dissertations will take the form of research studies. This means that they will be divided into five chapters: (1) an introduction, (2) a literature review, (3) a methodology section, (4) a results section, and (5) a discussion section.
The introduction provides background information about the topic and asserts the researcher's reasons for investigating the topic. The introduction section will also present the researcher's hypotheses regarding the study's outcomes and briefly describe the study methods that will be used to test these hypotheses. Information regarding the study methods should merely be overview information, however, as a detailed explanation will be offered in chapter 3.
The literature review is the second section of an MSc dissertation, and often the longest. In this section, the researcher will present a comprehensive overview of all existing scholarly studies that are relevant to his or her research topic. Each study mentioned should be summarized in an objective fashion.
The methodology chapter of an MSc dissertation details the design of the student's study. The description of the study construction and execution must be detailed enough so that other researchers could replicate the study if so inclined. This section should also include a detailed description of any study participants, if included, and their demographic descriptors.
Following the methodology chapter, the student should present a detailed report of the study's results. This includes a description of how the results were analyzed.
Following the results, the student should provide a discussion of the results. This is the chapter in which the pupil can suggest what the results mean and the impact these results may have for the student's field at large. This section is also the place in which the pupil can make recommendations for future studies that can build on the student's own research.
All MSc reports should be composed according to the precise guidelines issued by the student's university. Students can typically obtain these guidelines from their departments.
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