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Complete Guide to Writing Your Master’s Thesis

Do you write a thesis for a master’s degree? Yes, you do! It is similar to the project research you do at the end of your undergraduate studies.

However, a master’s thesis is longer compared to an undergraduate thesis. A master’s thesis is usually about 40-80 pages depending on the research and the type of analysis to be done. Writing a master’s thesis is a huge project that cannot be done in just a few days and without proper planning and consultation. However, with a good orientation and mindset, an early start, proper organisation, availability, and constant consultation of literature, the process of writing can be a wonderful adventure.

This article outlines the major steps on how to write a master’s thesis. Following these steps can help with Master thesis outcomes and also help you finish in record time.

How to pick a master’s thesis topic

Picking a suitable Master’s thesis topic doesn’t have to be a struggle. Follow these steps we have provided to make the selection process easier.

  1. Identify your research interest

The first thing to do is identify your area(s) of interest. You might have undergone a series of courses during your coursework or your undergraduate programme. By the time you finish your one-year coursework, your area of interest should have become more apparent. You would have determined the course you enjoy the most and the topic to which you might find yourself attracted. You could decide to consolidate your undergraduate work or research a new topic entirely.

  1. Gather your literature

After you have identified your research interest, the next thing you do is gather your literature. Don’t forget that the purpose of a master’s thesis is to demonstrate a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon. Hence, reading extensively is not negotiable.

It would be best if you gathered current literature. It would help if you chose journal articles and literature not more than five years old. Journal articles are usually more recent than textbooks; this is why they are a better option for your research. You can research literature based on independent, dependent, and any other variable(s) that you may have in mind. In other words, use the keywords in your topic to search for your literature. You will be able to identify a gap in the literature you have read.

  1. Identify your research gap

One principal purpose of a master’s thesis, besides showing in-depth knowledge, is to solve a problem. This is why there is always a statement of the research problem in the very first chapter of any academic work. Going through what other people have done will help you see what has not been done and needs to be done. Usually, academic papers include recommendations and areas of further research. Going through these will help you decide what area to work on. You can identify your research gap by scanning the literature and going through the abstract, introduction, methodology, result, findings, and conclusion. This will help you find a research gap and, ultimately, the research topic.

  1. Pick a topic

Now that you have your research gap, you can conveniently select your topic. The primary cause of concern for many Master’s students has been how to pick a master’s thesis topic. Asides from finishing a thesis, many students are usually worried about choosing an appropriate topic. You usually would not want to select a topic that will be too broad for you to handle within the scope of time or one that is too narrow to be a thesis for a master’s degree. When choosing a topic, you need to consider the time scope, methodology to be used, and your budget. You also need to consider how to measure your variables, data availability, and the topic’s originality.

Remember that the topic also has an influence on the length of a master’s thesis.

The standard master’s thesis structure

A typical master’s thesis has five chapters.

First chapter

The first chapter usually consists of the following:

  • Background to the study. This is where you give a general overview of your work.
  • The statement of the problem
  • Research questions
  • Research objectives
  • Statement of hypothesis (if applicable)
  • Scope of the study
  • Significance and justification of the study – this explains why you are carrying out the research, what you hope to achieve, who will benefit from the research, and how they will benefit from it.
  • Definition of key terms

Note, however, that the school and the department will determine the order of these components.

Second chapter

The second chapter of a master’s thesis comprises the literature review. This is where you show what you have read, state what others have done, how they did it, and their results and findings. For example, your literature review could consist of:

  • Conceptual review: explain key terms, how those terms have been viewed and used and how those terms apply to your work
  • Theoretical review: every research is built on a theoretical framework. You have to explain your theory, its tenets, and how other researchers have used the theory.
  • Empirical review: a compendium of other people’s work, methodology, results, and findings.

Third chapter

The third chapter discusses your methodology. It is at this point you state your

  • Research design: state whether your work is qualitative or quantitative.
  • Discussion: how you have gathered and selected your data and the time frame for data collection.

Fourth and Fifth Chapters

The fourth chapter shows your data representation, results, and findings. Finally, the last chapter will usually be the concluding chapter. It is at this point you reinforce your findings and state your recommendations.


Writing a master’s thesis can be scary but having a thesis outline will give you a clear direction. An outline is a skeleton of what you want to do. Whenever you get stuck, you can always refer to your outline, and in no time, your thoughts will begin to align. When you have a clear picture of what you want to do, you will be able to finish your master’s thesis in no time.

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