Thesis structures

Is there a typical thesis structure? Just as there are different types of research, there are different ways of reporting it. Whatever format is used, a thesis needs to answer these questions which form the structural base:

  • What was done?
  • Why was it done?
  • How was it done?
  • What were the results?
  • What do they mean?
  • Why are they important?

Here are some common patterns of thesis structure in broad disciplinary groupings.


There are various ways you can help your reader make sense of what you are trying to say in your thesis. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of an appropriately named and structured system of headings. Headings and subheadings in your thesis serve a similar purpose to road signs in a foreign city. The best signage systems can not only prevent you from getting lost on the route from Point A to Point B, but they can also help you find your way back on track if you do get disoriented. In the same way, headings can not only tell your readers where they are now, but where they have been, and also where they are going.

You can also provide your reader with some valuable directions in the text of your thesis itself.