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  • Digitising Philippine Flora
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  • In the Shadow of the Tree: The Diagrammatics of Relatedness as Scientific, Scholarly and Popular Practice
  • The Many Births of the Test-Tube Baby
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  • The Lost Museums of Cambridge Science, 1865–1936
  • From Hansa to Lufthansa: Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Knowledge in Germanic Lands and Beyond, 1300–2018
  • Medical Publishers, Obscenity Law and the Business of Sexual Knowledge in Victorian Britain
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How to organise a history essay or dissertation

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Research guide

Sachiko Kusukawa

There are many ways of writing history and no fixed formula for a 'good' essay or dissertation. Before you start, you may find it helpful to have a look at some sample dissertations and essays from the past: ask at the Whipple Library.

Some people have a clear idea already of what they are going to write about; others find it more difficult to choose or focus on a topic. It may be obvious, but it is worth pointing out that you should choose a topic you find interesting and engaging. Ask a potential supervisor for a list of appropriate readings, chase up any further sources that look interesting or promising from the footnotes, or seek further help. Try to define your topic as specifically as possible as soon as possible. Sometimes, it helps to formulate a question (in the spirit of a Tripos question), which could then be developed, refined, or re-formulated. A good topic should allow you to engage closely with a primary source (text, image, object, etc.) and develop a historiographical point – e.g. adding to, or qualifying historians' current debates or received opinion on the topic. Specific controversies (either historically or historiographically) are often a great place to start looking. Many dissertations and essays turn out to be overambitious in scope, but underambition is a rare defect!

Both essays and dissertations have an introduction and a conclusion . Between the introduction and the conclusion there is an argument or narrative (or mixture of argument and narrative).

An introduction introduces your topic, giving reasons why it is interesting and anticipating (in order) the steps of your argument. Hence many find that it is a good idea to write the introduction last. A conclusion summarises your arguments and claims. This is also the place to draw out the implications of your claims; and remember that it is often appropriate to indicate in your conclusion further profitable lines of research, inquiry, speculation, etc.

An argument or narrative should be coherent and presented in order. Divide your text into paragraphs which make clear points. Paragraphs should be ordered so that they are easy to follow. Always give reasons for your assertions and assessments: simply stating that something or somebody is right or wrong does not constitute an argument. When you describe or narrate an event, spell out why it is important for your overall argument. Put in chapter or section headings whenever you make a major new step in your argument of narrative.

It is a very good idea to include relevant pictures and diagrams . These should be captioned, and their relevance should be fully explained. If images are taken from a source, this should be included in the captions or list of illustrations.

The extent to which it is appropriate to use direct quotations varies according to topic and approach. Always make it clear why each quotation is pertinent to your argument. If you quote from non-English sources say if the translation is your own; if it isn't give the source. At least in the case of primary sources include the original in a note if it is your own translation, or if the precise details of wording are important. Check your quotations for accuracy. If there is archaic spelling make sure it isn't eliminated by a spell-check. Don't use words without knowing what they mean.

An essay or a dissertation has three components: the main text , the notes , and the bibliography .

The main text is where you put in the substance of your argument, and is meant to be longer than the notes. For quotes from elsewhere, up to about thirty words, use quotation marks ("...", or '...'). If you quote anything longer, it is better to indent the whole quotation without quotation marks.

Notes may either be at the bottom of the page (footnotes) or at the end of the main text, but before the bibliography (endnotes). Use notes for references and other supplementary material which does not constitute the substance of your argument. Whenever you quote directly from other works, you must give the exact reference in your notes. A reference means the exact location in a book or article which you have read , so that others can find it also – it should include author, title of the book, place and date of publication, page number. (There are many different ways to refer to scholarly works: see below.) . If you cite a primary source from a secondary source and you yourself have not read or checked the primary source, you must acknowledge the secondary source from which the citation was taken. Whenever you paraphrase material from somebody else's work, you must acknowledge that fact. There is no excuse for plagiarism. It is important to note that generous and full acknowledgement of the work of others does not undermine your originality.

Your bibliography must contain all the books and articles you have referred to (do not include works that you did not use). It lists works alphabetically by the last name of the author. There are different conventions to set out a bibliography, but at the very least a bibliographic entry should include for a book the last name and initials/first name of the author, the title of the book in italics or underlined, and the place, (publisher optional) and date of publication; or, for an article, the last name and initials/first name of the author, the title in inverted commas, and the name of the journal in italics or underlined, followed by volume number, date of publication, and page numbers. Names of editors of volumes of collected articles and names of translators should also be included, whenever applicable.

  • M. MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • William Clark, 'Narratology and the History of Science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 26 (1995), 1–72.
  • M. F. Burnyeat, 'The Sceptic in His Place and Time', in R. Rorty, J. B. Schneewind and Q. Skinner (eds), Philosophy in History , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 225–54.

Alternatively, if you have many works to refer to, it may be easier to use an author-date system in notes, e.g.:

  • MacDonald [1981], p. 89; Clark [1995a], p. 65; Clark [1995b], pp. 19–99.

In this case your bibliography should also start with the author-date, e.g.:

  • MacDonald, Michael [1981], Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Clark, William [1995a], 'Narratology and the History of Science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 26, 1–72.

This system has the advantage of making your foot- or endnotes shorter, and many choose it to save words (the bibliography is not included in the word limit). It is the system commonly used in scientific publications. Many feel however that something is historically amiss when you find in a footnote something like 'Plato [1996b]' or 'Locke [1975]'. In some fields of research there are standard systems of reference: you will find that this is the case if, for example, you write an essay/dissertation on classical history or philosophy of science. In such cases it is a good idea to take a standard secondary source as your model (e.g. in the case of classics, see G.E.R. Lloyd's The Revolutions of Wisdom: Studies in the Claims and Practices of Ancient Greek Science , Berkeley 1987).

Whatever system you decide to follow for your footnotes, what matters most is that the end-product is consistent.

Keep accurate records of all the relevant bibliographic information as you do your reading for your essay/dissertation. (If you don't you may waste days trying to trace references when you are close to submission deadlines.)

Consistency of style throughout the essay/dissertation is encouraged. There are many professional guides to thesis writing which give you more information on the style and format of theses – for example the MLS handbook (British) and the Chicago Manual of Style (American), both in the Whipple, and a booklet, H. Teitelbaum, How to Write a Thesis: A Guide to the Research Paper , 3rd ed., 126 pp., New York: Macmillan (& Arco), 1994 (in the UL: 1996.8.2620). But don't try to follow everything they say!

Every now and then you should read through a printout of your whole essay/dissertation, to ensure that your argument flows throughout the piece: otherwise there is a danger that your arguments become compartmentalised to the size of the screen. When reading drafts, ask yourself if it would be comprehensible to an intelligent reader who was not an expert on the specific topic.

It is imperative that you save your work on disk regularly – never be caught out without a back-up.

Before you submit:

  • remember to run a spell-check (and remember that a spell check will not notice if you have written, for example, 'pheasant' instead of 'peasant', or, even trickier, 'for' instead of 'from', 'it' instead of 'is', etc.);
  • prepare a table of contents, with titles for each chapter of your essay/dissertation, page numbers and all;
  • prepare a cover page with the title, your name and college;
  • prepare a page with the required statement about length, originality etc.

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History: writing a history dissertation.

  • Writing a History Dissertation
  • Referencing and Style Guide
  • Literature Search Plan
  • American History

Starting a Literature Search

Conducting a literature search is a great way to find a viable topic and plan your research. It will also give you the opportunity to look for primary and secondary resources that can support the arguments you make in your dissertation. 

Starting your literature search early will help you plan your dissertation and give you an overview of all the resources you might want to consult. Below are examples of how you can start this process and how they can help.

Dissertation Books

dissertation structure history

Define your Topic

Start your search by identifying a broad subject area, such as a country, period, theme or person. You might do this by looking at reference works, such as a Very Short Introduction , Cambridge Histories , or Oxford Handbooks . These books will give you an insight into the many areas you can investigate in greater depth and they will also provide references to peer-reviewed material on more defined topics. 

Next , look at material which focuses more on the area you have identified from reference works. These might be books, chapters or articles which focus on a more defined area of the subject you have identified. Use these to formulate questions that you can answer in your research.

Then ,  read resources that will help you form your argument and answer the questions you have set. This material should focus on the topic you have chosen and help you explain what has been written on this area before.

Search for Secondary Resources

In order to successfully search for resources relevant to your study, you will need to use search-terms which will retrieve the best results. The tips below will help you do this:

Terms you have found in your reading

Keep a note of terms you have seen when you have been identifying your topic. This could be anything relevant your topic, including: places, people, jobs, religions, institutions, objects, periods, or events. Also, take note of terms that are related to your topic and had an impact on the area you are studying. Write down all the terms which relate to your topic and note which ones provide the most relevant results.

It can also be useful to keep a note of what you are not looking at so that you stay focused on your topic and do not retrieve too many results.

Authors who are written about the topic

You will start to notice that some authors are mentioned as specialists on the topic you are researching. Search a variety of catalogues to find what they have written on the subject in different formats. They might have contributed to edited works, written articles, given presentations to conferences or annotated works. They also might lead you to others who have written about your topic or research groups which are relevant to your studies.

Use subject searches

Most secondary resources have been indexed according to their subject. Through using these subject terms you can search catalogues more efficiently and find relevant resources without just searching the title or author. 

If you find a useful resources, try looking at its catalogue record. See if any of the subject headings look useful and note what terminology they use as this will be consistent across most databases. When you have found a useful term, copy and paste it into a subject search (or select the link) and see what other resources are available.

You can also use an online thesaurus to find search terms. The most commonly used terms are the Library of Congress Subject Headings  which provide uniform terms across international databases.

Use databases

The University subscribes to many databases that focus on different countries and topics. These will provide a comprehensive guide to what has been written in your area and may use different subject headings. Reference databases and bibliographies can be especially useful for finding citations of everything that has been written on a certain area of history. Biographical databases can also help find information about individuals and institutions. For a complete list of all the databases the University subscribes to, look at the A-Z of databases . 

Search for Primary Resources

There are plenty of primary resources that can be used in your dissertation. The University subscribes to many databases that provide access to primary resources and some of our libraries hold special collections which can be used in your research. Below are some examples:

The University subscribes to many newspapers from the past and present. They can be a really useful tool for finding contemporary accounts of events and provide more than just articles (including: advertisements, illustrations, family notices, sports, arts, court cases). Many newspaper databases will also include related content, such as pamphlets and newsbooks.

The University Library has a collection of print newspapers which can be consulted on site. The University also subscribes to electronic databases of national and local newspapers across the world. More information about the newspaper databases we subscribe to is available on our  dedicated website .

Special Collection Material

Many libraries and archives provide access to rare, unique and specialised collections of books and manuscripts. The University Library, for example, provides access to Manuscripts and Rare Books Departments , as do some of the colleges. Some of the more frequently used and important material is also available as part of an online library, such as Cambridge's CUDL .

Official Publications (Government Documents)

Documents produced by governmental and intergovernmental bodies can provide an insight into their decision making and governance. Several libraries in Cambridge have received official publications material and a lot of material is now available online. More information about the official material in Cambridge libraries is available on our Official Publications LibGuide .

Data and Statistics

Figures can be used to help illustrate a point and provide evidence as you answer the central question in your dissertation. You might chose to refer to census data, crime statistics, trade figures, or any other data set that relates to your area of history. This sort of information can be found in databases and replicated in secondary resources. 

Private Papers

If you are researching an individual (or someone who played a prominent role in the area you are focusing on) it is a good idea to see if they have deposited private papers in an archive. These might includes diaries, letters, draft works, or anything else that was kept and not published. These works are normally kept in an archive, so a good starting point is to look at a catalogue that might show where relevant papers are held (such as Archives Hub )

These can include maps, cartoons, paintings and photographs. Images are available both in print and online, but you need to be cautious of the copyright restrictions of images before you use them (check the information given by the source). Some databases will allow you to search images, like ARTstor , so use them as a good starting point for your search. 

Audio-Visual

Similarly to images, the University provides access to a variety of audio-visual resources, including interviews, recordings, radio and films. If there is a particular DVD you would like to use, try searching the title in iDiscover. For example, " Interviews with Historians " will take you to a comprehensive collection of DVDs available at the Seeley. Many films are also available online, such as British Pathe .

Organise and Save Your Research

You will be able to do a comprehensive and efficient literature search if you keep a record of what you have read, where you read it and what each item means to your research. The best way to achieve this is to:

1. Record the key ideas, themes and quotes from what you have read. Try to find a uniform way to do this as it will make it easier to find information when you come to write your dissertation. Some formats are freely available on the internet, such as the Cornell Note Taking System .

2. Save citations you have looked at so you do not struggle to find them again. Also, this will help you when you come to do your references. There are many reference managers available to help you store this information and create a fully formatted bibliography.

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dissertation structure history

Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

dissertation structure history

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings . In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

dissertation structure history

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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How to Research and Write a Compelling History Thesis

student works on history thesis in university library

The Importance of Research for Writing a History Thesis

Just as history is more than a collection of facts about past events, an effective history thesis goes beyond simply sharing recorded information. Writing a compelling history thesis requires making an argument about a historical fact and, then, researching and providing a well-crafted defense for that position.

With so many sources available—some of which may provide conflicting findings—how should a student research and write a history thesis? How can a student create a thesis that’s both compelling and supports a position that academic editors describe as “concise, contentious, and coherent”?

Key steps in how to write a history thesis include evaluating source materials, developing a strong thesis statement, and building historical knowledge.

Compelling theses provide context about historical events. This context, according to the reference website ThoughtCo., refers to the social, religious, economic, and political conditions during an occurrence that “enable us to interpret and analyze works or events of the past, or even the future, rather than merely judge them by contemporary standards”.

The context supports the main point of a thesis, called the thesis statement, by providing an interpretive and analytical framework of the facts, instead of simply stating them. Research uncovers the evidence necessary to make the case for that thesis statement.

To gather evidence that contributes to a deeper understanding of a given historical topic, students should reference both primary and secondary sources of research.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events in history, according to Professor David Ulbrich, director of Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program. These sources provide information not only about what happened and how it happened but also why it happened.

Primary sources can include letters, diaries, photos, and videos as well as material objects such as “spent artillery shells, architectural features, cemetery headstones, chemical analysis of substances, shards of bowls or bottles, farming implements, or earth or environmental features or factors,” Ulbrich says. “The author of the thesis can tell how people lived, for example, by the ways they arranged their material lives.”

Primary research sources are the building blocks to help us better understand and appreciate history. It is critical to find as many primary sources from as many perspectives as possible. Researching these firsthand accounts can provide evidence that helps answer those “what”, “how”, and “why” questions about the past, Ulbrich says.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are materials—such as books, articles, essays, and documentaries—gathered and interpreted by other researchers. These sources often provide updates and evaluation of the thesis topic or viewpoints that support the theories presented in the thesis.

Primary and secondary sources are complementary types of research that form a convincing foundation for a thesis’ main points.

How to Write a History Thesis

What are the steps to write a history thesis? The process of developing a thesis that provides a thorough analysis of a historical event—and presents academically defensible arguments related to that analysis—includes the following:

1. Gather and Analyze Sources

When collecting sources to use in a thesis, students should analyze them to ensure they demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the materials. A student should evaluate the attributes of sources such as their origin and point-of-view.

An array of primary and secondary sources can help provide a thorough understanding of a historical event, although some of those sources may include conflicting views and details. In those cases, the American Historical Association says, it’s up to the thesis author to determine which source reflects the appropriate point-of-view.

2. Develop a Thesis Statement

To create a thesis statement, a student should establish a specific idea or theory that makes the main point about a historical event. Scribbr, an editing website, recommends starting with a working thesis, asking the question the thesis intends to answer, and, then, writing the answer.

The final version of a thesis statement might be argumentative, for example, taking a side in a debate. Or it might be expository, explaining a historical situation. In addition to being concise and coherent, a thesis statement should be contentious, meaning it requires evidence to support it.

3. Create an Outline

Developing a thesis requires an outline of the content that will support the thesis statement. Students should keep in mind the following key steps in creating their outline:

  • Note major points.
  • Categorize ideas supported by the theories.
  • Arrange points according to the importance and a timeline of events addressed by the thesis.
  • Create effective headings and subheadings.
  • Format the outline.

4. Organize Information

Thesis authors should ensure their content follows a logical order. This may entail coding resource materials to help match them to the appropriate theories while organizing the information. A thesis typically contains the following elements.

  • Abstract —Overview of the thesis.
  • Introduction —Summary of the thesis’ main points.
  • Literature review —Explanation of the gap in previous research addressed by this thesis.
  • Methods —Outline how the author reviewed the research and why materials were selected.
  • Results —Description of the research findings.
  • Discussion —Analysis of the research.
  • Conclusion —Statements about what the student learned.

5. Write the Thesis

Online writing guide Paperpile recommends that students start with the literature review when writing the thesis. Developing this section first will help the author gain a more complete understanding of the thesis’ source materials. Writing the abstract last can give the student a thorough picture of the work the abstract should describe.

The discussion portion of the thesis typically is the longest since it’s here that the writer will explain the limitations of the work, offer explanations of any unexpected results, and cite remaining questions about the topic.

In writing the thesis, the author should keep in mind that the document will require multiple changes and drafts—perhaps even new insights. A student should gather feedback from a professor and colleagues to ensure their thesis is clear and effective before finalizing the draft.      

6. Prepare to Defend the Thesis

A committee will evaluate the student’s defense of the thesis’ theories. Students should prepare to defend their thesis by considering answers to questions posed by the committee. Additionally, students should develop a plan for addressing questions to which they may not have a ready answer, understanding the evaluation likely will consider how the author handles that challenge.

Developing Skills to Write a Compelling History Thesis

When looking for direction on how to write a history thesis, Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program can provide the needed skills and knowledge. The program’s tracks and several courses—taken as core classes or as electives in multiple concentrations—can provide a strong foundation for thesis work.

Master of Arts in History Tracks

In the Norwich online Master of Arts in History program, respected scholars help students improve their historical insight, research, writing, analytical, and presentation skills. They teach the following program tracks.

  • Public History —Focuses on the preservation and interpretation of historic documents and artifacts for purposes of public observation.
  • American History —Emphasizes the exploration and interpretation of key events associated with U.S. history.
  • World History —Prepares students to develop an in-depth understanding of world history from various eras.
  • Legal and Constitutional History —Provides a thorough study of the foundational legal and constitutional elements in the U.S. and Europe.

Master of Arts in History Courses

Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program enables students to customize studies based on career goals and personal interests through the following courses:

  • Introduction to History and Historiography —Covers the core concepts of history-based study and research methodology, highlighting how these concepts are essential to developing an effective history thesis.
  • Directed Readings in History —Highlights different ways to use sources that chronicle American history to assist in researching and writing a thorough and complete history thesis.
  • Race, Gender, and U.S. Constitution —Explores key U.S. Supreme Court decisions relating to national race and gender relations and rights, providing a deeper context to develop compelling history theses.
  • Archival Studies —Breaks down the importance of systematically overseeing archival materials, highlighting how to build historical context to better educate and engage with the public.

Start Your Path Toward Writing a Compelling History Thesis

For over two centuries, Norwich University has played a vital role in history as America’s first private military college and the birthplace of the ROTC. As such, the university is uniquely positioned to lead students through a comprehensive analysis of the major developments, events, and figures of the past.

Explore Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History program. Start your path toward writing a compelling history thesis and taking your talents further.

Writing History: An Introductory Guide to How History Is Produced , American Historical Association     How to Write a Thesis Statement , Scribbr     The Importance of Historic Context in Analysis and Interpretation , ThoughtCo.     7 Reasons Why Research Is Important , Owlcation     Primary and Secondary Sources , Scribbr     Secondary Sources in Research , ThoughtCo.     Analysis of Sources , History Skills     Research Paper Outline , Scribbr     How to Structure a Thesis , Paperpile     Writing Your Final Draft , History Skills     How to Prepare an Excellent Thesis Defense , Paperpile

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How To Create An Effective Outline For History Dissertations

Creating an effective outline for history dissertations is the critical first step in a successful writing process. Without an organized and well-structured plan, writers can easily become overwhelmed by the task of synthesizing their research and translating it into an organized academic paper.

This article provides guidance on how to create an effective outline that will ensure that readers have a clear understanding of the overall argument being presented. The article begins with a discussion of why outlining is important, followed by a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective outline.

It then examines some common mistakes when creating outlines and provides advice on how to avoid them. Finally, it offers tips on how to keep track of progress as the dissertation progresses. This article is designed to help readers understand the importance of outlining and provide them with the tools needed to effectively complete their history dissertation project.

Understanding The Purpose Of Outlining

Creating an effective outline for a history dissertation can be a challenge, but it is essential for success. Outlining serves to define the scope of the project and helps to organize the research process. It provides direction as you evaluate resources, decide what questions to answer, and determine how best to present your findings.

Outlines should begin with a statement that presents the overall argument and purpose of the dissertation. The remainder of the outline should include the main components of your dissertation including any subtopics that must be addressed in order to provide evidence for your argument.

When creating an outline, it is important to consider both primary sources such as documents, maps, photos, or artifacts; as well as secondary sources such as scholarly articles or books. Each source should be evaluated based on its relevance to your argument and its ability to contribute to knowledge in an area that has been previously studied.

By carefully constructing an effective outline for your history dissertation you can help ensure a successful outcome by providing a framework for conducting research, organizing material, and presenting arguments in a logical sequence that supports your overall claim. An effective outline will help you stay on track and make sure all aspects of your project are covered before submitting it for review.

Identifying The Thesis Statement

Before you can start writing your history dissertation, it is important to identify the thesis statement. This statement will form the basis of your argument, and should be focused and concise. It is important to spend some time analyzing evidence and contextualizing facts in order to create a strong argument.

When creating a thesis statement, consider the following points:

  • Think about the main question that you want to address in your dissertation
  • Remember that a good thesis statement should be specific and clear
  • Make sure that your thesis statement is supported by relevant evidence
  • Ensure that you have enough material on which to base an effective argument
  • Consider any counterarguments that may arise from your argument

By taking the time to craft a strong thesis statement, you will be setting yourself up for success when writing your history dissertation. A well-crafted thesis statement will provide direction throughout the entire writing process, helping you stay focused and organized as you work towards crafting an effective dissertation.

Creating An Overall Structure

Creating an effective outline for a history dissertation requires identifying the thesis goals, outlining the argument and organizing evidence.

The thesis goals should be clear and concise, so that the reader knows what to expect from the paper.

The argument should be organized in a logical manner, making sure to include all the necessary points.

Evidence should be organized in a way that supports the argument and provides a strong basis for the paper.

Every point of the outline should be connected to the main argument, and the evidence should be used to support those points.

By following these steps, an effective outline for a history dissertation can be created.

Identifying Thesis Goals

When writing a history dissertation, the primary goal is to create an overall structure that can effectively communicate your research.

A key factor in this is identifying thesis objectives and refining the methodology used to reach them.

Defining one’s objectives can be a challenging task, as it requires careful consideration of what one hopes to achieve with their dissertation.

It also necessitates understanding which sources will be used and how they will be employed in order to reach said goals.

Refining the methodology is just as important, as it involves ensuring that all sources are correctly cited and referenced, and that any analysis is thorough and properly structured.

In conclusion, by properly defining objectives and refining their methodology, individuals can ensure that they have created an effective outline for their history dissertation.

Outlining The Argument

Once the objectives have been defined and the methodology refined, the next step in creating an overall structure for a history dissertation is outlining the argument.

This involves evaluating evidence and connecting ideas in order to form a coherent narrative.

It is important to ensure that all sources are accurately cited and that any analysis adheres to academic standards.

Additionally, it is critical to make sure that each point made is well supported with evidence so as to provide a strong foundation for one’s argument.

Furthermore, by connecting ideas from different sources, individuals can create a cohesive narrative that effectively communicates their research findings.

Ultimately, by taking care to thoroughly evaluate evidence and draw meaningful connections between ideas, individuals can ensure that they have outlined an effective argument for their history dissertation.

Organizing Evidence

Organizing evidence is a key part of creating an overall structure for a history dissertation.

Analyzing data, structuring arguments, and citing sources are all important steps in the process.

In order to ensure that one’s argument is well supported, it is necessary to evaluate the available evidence and make sure that all sources used are properly cited.

Additionally, it is important to look for meaningful connections between ideas from different sources in order to create a cohesive narrative.

By taking the time to carefully examine the evidence and draw meaningful connections between ideas, individuals can effectively organize their evidence in order to support their argument.

This will help them create an effective overall structure for their history dissertation.

Developing The Introduction

The introduction is an essential element of a successful dissertation. It serves as the foundation for the entire paper, providing readers with an overview of the topic and its significance.

When creating a dissertation outline, it is important to consider how to effectively introduce your research topic and determine the scope of your study. Contextualizing data and evidence are also crucial components for developing a meaningful introduction.

To ensure that your introduction meets all of these criteria, it can be helpful to start by writing down key points about your research topic and why it is important. This can include related topics, methods you plan to use, or any other relevant information that will help your readers better understand your project.

Additionally, you should consider what evidence you plan to include in order to support each point you make throughout the dissertation. By taking the time to thoroughly develop your introduction, you create a strong foundation for the rest of your dissertation and ensure that all subsequent sections have meaning and purpose.

Drafting The Main Body

Having drafted the introduction, it is time to move onto the main body of the dissertation.

The main body should provide a thorough evaluation of the topic and data. Depending on the topic, this may involve analyzing documents, evaluating sources, visualizing trends in data or any combination thereof.

In order to effectively evaluate sources and data, it is important to contextualize them appropriately and identify any biases that may be present. Furthermore, it is crucial to consider if the sources are reliable and relevant for achieving one’s research goals.

Visualizing trends in data can also be an effective way of understanding how various factors interact with each other over time. This can help shed light on how certain developments occurred as well as their implications for future research.

Writing in an engaging style will help draw readers into one’s work while serving their subconscious need for helping others. By keeping these points in mind when drafting the main body of a history dissertation, one can create an effective section that communicates their thoughts clearly while adhering to academic conventions.

Crafting The Conclusion

The conclusion of any history dissertation is an important part of the writing process. It is the last thing that a reader will see and should be used to tie together all of the key points and evidence presented in the paper.

Here are four key steps for crafting an effective conclusion to your dissertation:

Identify the main points: Reviewing what has been discussed throughout your paper, identify the main points that you want to make in your conclusion.

Summarize those points: Summarize each point briefly, using as few words as possible. This will help ensure that readers understand the main arguments of your dissertation.

Provide supporting evidence: In addition to summarizing your points, it is important to provide evidence that supports them. This can include citing sources from earlier in your paper or providing additional examples from outside sources.

End strongly: Once you have summarized your key points and provided supporting evidence, you should end your conclusion on a strong note with a clear statement about how this information affects our understanding of history and its implications for future research. By ending strongly, you help ensure that readers remember your main ideas and take away something meaningful from your paper.

Incorporating Sources

In order to create an effective outline for a history dissertation, it is essential to incorporate sources into the project. Sources provide the necessary evidence to distinguish facts from interpretations and stories. In addition, understanding how and when to cite sources is crucial, as it allows readers to understand from where the information came from and how reliable it is.

The following table outlines best practices for incorporating sources in a history dissertation:

Step Description
1 Gather all relevant primary and secondary sources for the research topic.
2 Analyze each source critically and make sure that the material collected is accurate and up-to-date.
3 Determine which sources are most valuable for your dissertation.
4 Record bibliographic information such as author name, title of article or book, page numbers, publication details, etc., so that they can easily be cited within your dissertation while avoiding plagiarism.

By following these steps, you will be able to provide reliable support for your arguments in a history dissertation and acknowledge ideas of other authors through proper citation of sources. Moreover, this process can help you gain a better understanding of your research topic by connecting different perspectives and analyzing evidence objectively.

Using Subheadings

Transitioning from the previous section, it is important to incorporate sources when creating an effective outline for a history dissertation. Sources such as primary documents and secondary literature can add depth and complexity to one’s thesis.

Additionally, incorporating subheadings into the outline is another way to ensure that necessary information is included in the dissertation. Using subheadings allows for easy navigation between topics and provides structure for the dissertation. It also helps the author analyze data more easily and revise drafts more efficiently.

Moreover, subheadings make it easier for readers to follow along with the author’s argument and understand their conclusion. Thus, by utilizing subheadings within an outline, authors can create an effective roadmap for their dissertation that is both organized and accessible to readers.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Poor organization is a common mistake to avoid when creating a history dissertation outline. It is important to create an outline that is logical and easy to follow.

Plagiarism is also a mistake to be aware of when creating a history dissertation outline. It is essential to cite all sources correctly and to give credit to the original authors.

To avoid poor organization and plagiarism, it is important to use proper formatting and to create an outline that is well-structured and concise.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that all sources used are cited correctly and that all ideas are accurately attributed to their respective authors.

Poor Organization

Poor organization is one of the most common mistakes made when creating a history dissertation outline.

Without proper structuring, it can be difficult to make sense of the entire dissertation, leading to confusion and frustration.

To avoid this mistake, it is important to set clear goals and expectations for each component of the outline.

This means that the researcher should decide what information they want to include in each section and the order in which they will present it.

By having a clear purpose and plan for their outline, researchers can ensure that their work is organized in a way that will make sense to an audience.

Additionally, structuring goals and clarifying expectations will help keep the researcher on track throughout the process.

Ultimately, these steps are key for maintaining coherence throughout any history dissertation outline.

When creating a history dissertation outline, it is essential to acknowledge sources and cite references correctly.

Plagiarism is an especially serious mistake that can have long-term consequences for the researcher’s reputation. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all information used in the dissertation is properly credited and attributed to its source.

This includes both direct quotes and paraphrased material, as well as any ideas or theories borrowed from other researchers.

When citing references, researchers should use the style specified by their institution or publisher.

By taking the time to properly cite all sources used, researchers can avoid potential plagiarism issues in their work.

Furthermore, this practice will help them build credibility as an academic writer and recognize the contributions of other scholars in their field of study.

Establishing A Timeline

When planning a history dissertation, it is essential to create an effective timeline. Reviewing and organizing resources is key to establishing a timeline.

Depending on the topic of the dissertation, determining what events are relevant for inclusion should be done first. Once all necessary information has been gathered, it is important to determine when each event occurred and the order in which they should be placed. This will help to ensure that your dissertation follows a clear and concise timeline.

In addition, researching primary sources is beneficial when creating a timeline as they provide invaluable insight into past events. Primary sources such as newspaper articles and photographs can offer context to your research which may not have otherwise been available.

Furthermore, examining other scholar’s work on the same topic can help you build upon their findings and enhance your research with additional facts or evidence. With this knowledge in hand, you will be able to confidently create an accurate and organized dissertation timeline that serves both your research needs and those of your readers.

Establishing Milestones

When writing a history dissertation, establishing milestones can be critical in ensuring that the project is completed on time.

To begin this process, it is important to first identify which sources are available and how they can be utilized. When searching for references, primary sources such as written documents, photographs and other artifacts should be considered. In addition, secondary sources like books, journal articles and online resources can also provide valuable information.

Organizing the material gathered from these various sources is essential in order to create an effective outline for a history dissertation. Taking notes on each source and categorizing them into distinct sections will help to ensure that all of the necessary information has been collected.

Additionally, creating timelines or charts may help to make the data easier to comprehend when formulating an argument or conclusion. Writing down key ideas and dates as well as any other details that seem relevant will help further refine the outline for the dissertation.

Tracking Progress

The progress of a history dissertation can be tracked via evaluating research and organizing notes. While this process may appear daunting on the surface, it can be approached in manageable pieces.

To begin, it is important to take time to reflect on the research that has been conducted so far. This includes asking questions about what has been found and how this information could contribute to the ultimate goal of the dissertation.

After evaluating research, it is also beneficial to organize notes in a way that makes them easy to reference. This could include creating bulleted lists, outlining sections of text, or summarizing data into charts and graphs.

Additionally, taking regular breaks during this process can help keep the mind fresh and motivated for when the next step needs to be taken.

By doing these two key steps of evaluating research and organizing notes, an effective outline for a history dissertation can be created over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a dissertation outline be.

When creating a dissertation outline, the length of the document will depend upon the individual’s research and writing process.

Generally speaking, an outline should include enough detail in order to organize one’s notes and cite sources appropriately while still being concise.

It is important to note that organization is key when it comes to creating an effective outline; therefore, taking the extra time to ensure that all information is organized correctly will help streamline the research and writing process.

Is It Important To Include A Timeline When Outlining A Dissertation?

When outlining a dissertation, it is important to consider including a timeline.

A timeline can provide insight into the broadening scope and analyzing trends of a research project that may not be as easily identifiable with other methods.

Moreover, when creating an effective outline for history dissertations, incorporating a timeline can help to ensure that all relevant information is included and analyzed in the most efficient manner possible.

How Can I Make Sure I Am Avoiding Common Mistakes?

Proofreading is a key step in the dissertation writing process, and often the best way to avoid common mistakes.

To ensure your writing is error-free, use a few research strategies such as reading your work aloud and having someone else read it over.

Additionally, take advantage of online resources such as grammar checkers and style guides that can help you identify any errors or inconsistencies in your writing.

Ultimately, taking the time to proofread your work can save you time and frustration down the road.

What Is The Best Way To Track Progress When Writing A Dissertation?

When writing a dissertation, it is essential to use time management and organization to track progress.

A useful technique for tracking progress is to create a timeline with specific goals that need to be met each day, week, or month.

Try breaking down the dissertation into sections and setting smaller deadlines in order to keep yourself on track and motivated towards the end goal.

Additionally, setting aside time specifically for research can help you stay focused and organized throughout the entire process.

How Can I Incorporate Sources Effectively Within My Outline?

When creating an outline for a history dissertation, it is essential to incorporate sources in order to support arguments and structure the project. Seeking feedback from other academics or peers can be beneficial in understanding how to effectively cite sources within the outline.

Additionally, citing the sources correctly can help ensure that the arguments are well-structured and any evidence provided is valid. With this in mind, tracking progress throughout the writing process can be a useful method for ensuring that all sources have been cited correctly and all arguments are supported with reliable evidence.

When creating an outline for a history dissertation, it is important to consider the length and timeline of the project.

It is also essential to avoid common mistakes such as neglecting to include sources or not tracking progress appropriately.

To ensure success, a timeline should be incorporated into the outline so that progress can be tracked, while sources should be effectively incorporated and credited accordingly.

By following these steps, students will have a clear and effective guide to help them create an outline that will set them up for success when writing their dissertation.

With careful planning, any student can craft an organized plan with which they can work towards completing their history dissertation in a timely fashion.

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Department of History

Yale history dissertations.

dissertation structure history

During the late 1800’s, only a trickle of dissertations were submitted annually, but today, the department averages about 25 per year. See who some of those intrepid scholars were and what they wrote about by clicking on any of the years listed below.

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  • Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Published on 8 June 2022 by Tegan George .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process . It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation, such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)

In the final product, you can also provide a chapter outline for your readers. This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organisational structure of your thesis or dissertation . This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline.

Table of contents

How to outline your thesis or dissertation, dissertation and thesis outline templates, chapter outline example, sample sentences for your chapter outline, sample verbs for variation in your chapter outline, frequently asked questions about outlines.

While there are some inter-institutional differences, many outlines proceed in a fairly similar fashion.

  • Working Title
  • ‘Elevator pitch’ of your work (often written last).
  • Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement , and hypotheses . Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework .
  • Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.
  • Describe your research methods (e.g., your scope, population , and data collection ).
  • Present your research findings and share about your data analysis methods.
  • Answer the research question in a concise way.
  • Interpret your findings, discuss potential limitations of your own research and speculate about future implications or related opportunities.

To help you get started, we’ve created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format. It’s easy adapt it to your own requirements.

 Download Word template    Download Google Docs template

Chapter outline example British English

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of overusing the same words or sentence constructions, which can make your work monotonous and repetitive for your readers. Consider utilising some of the alternative constructions presented below.

Example 1: Passive construction

The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise.

Example 2: IS-AV construction

You can also present your information using the ‘IS-AV’ (inanimate subject with an active verb) construction.

A chapter is an inanimate object, so it is not capable of taking an action itself (e.g., presenting or discussing). However, the meaning of the sentence is still easily understandable, so the IS-AV construction can be a good way to add variety to your text.

Example 3: The I construction

Another option is to use the ‘I’ construction, which is often recommended by style manuals (e.g., APA Style and Chicago style ). However, depending on your field of study, this construction is not always considered professional or academic. Ask your supervisor if you’re not sure.

Example 4: Mix-and-match

To truly make the most of these options, consider mixing and matching the passive voice , IS-AV construction , and ‘I’ construction .This can help the flow of your argument and improve the readability of your text.

As you draft the chapter outline, you may also find yourself frequently repeating the same words, such as ‘discuss’, ‘present’, ‘prove’, or ‘show’. Consider branching out to add richness and nuance to your writing. Here are some examples of synonyms you can use.

Address Describe Imply Refute
Argue Determine Indicate Report
Claim Emphasise Mention Reveal
Clarify Examine Point out Speculate
Compare Explain Posit Summarise
Concern Formulate Present Target
Counter Focus on Propose Treat
Define Give Provide insight into Underpin
Demonstrate Highlight Recommend Use

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.

The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .

Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract   in the table of contents.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

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Department of History

Doctoral dissertation.

  • Ph.D. Program

The capstone, and most critical, project of the Ph.D. program is the doctoral dissertation.

The series of courses within the department dealing with professional development concludes with the dissertation prospectus seminar, which students take in the sixth semester, if they have passed their examinations.

Prospectus Seminar

The dissertation prospectus seminar provides a shared structure for the process of identifying viable dissertation projects, selecting a dissertation committee, articulating a project in the form of a prospectus, and, where appropriate, developing grant proposals based on the prospectus.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee, the selection of which is a requirement of the course, consists of a director and two additional members.

Director of Graduate Studies

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will verify that the thesis director, who will normally also have been the supervisor of the student's major field examination, accepts the role of the student's major professor and dissertation advisor.

At the same time the DGS will nominate, with their written approval, two other professors who have been agreed upon between the dissertation director and student. In case of disagreement, the choice will be made by the department. With the consent of the dissertation director and DGS, the dissertation committee may include a person from outside the Department. This committee will be responsible for evaluating the student's detailed written proposal, to be presented no later than the end of the sixth semester, and for approving the final version of the student's dissertation.

A dissertation prospectus should be divided into the following four sections:

  • historiography -- setting the proposed study in the context of the relevant historical literature
  • methodology -- outlining the approach the student proposes to take
  • types of sources to be examined
  • significance -- the historical importance of the work and why we need such a study.

In addition, there should also be a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. If deemed unsatisfactory, the proposal may be referred back for resubmission by the end of the summer following the sixth semester. Students who have not presented their thesis proposal to their dissertation committee by the end of the summer following the sixth semester shall be considered not in good standing and may be ineligible for further financial aid from the department.

Postponement

Students must petition the department in writing for any postponement of the submission of their thesis proposal beyond the end of the sixth semester. Petitions must be accompanied by a recommendation of the student's dissertation advisor. Grounds for such an extension include protracted illness, teaching duties beyond those normally expected of second year and fifth semester students, or the discovery of unexpected difficulties with his/her thesis topic (e.g. a recently completed dissertation or book on the same subject).

Preparation and Examination

After passing the preliminary examination and obtaining approval of his/her dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee, doctoral candidates are encouraged to proceed with this research with speed and efficiency. As the research progresses, if unexpected discoveries about the nature of the sources or other unforeseen developments occur, the student and thesis director should confer in case redefinition of the topic seems necessary. During the research and writing of the thesis, it is the student's responsibility regularly to provide the thesis director with evidence of satisfactory progress towards completion. Such evidence will normally be provided in informal consultations between student and thesis director; if the student is absent from the campus, it should be provided by letter at least once each semester.

Presentation

All students will normally be expected to give a presentation before the History Workshop (or other similar group) of all or part of the dissertation (or other research).

The doctoral dissertation should be completed within four years after the student passes the preliminary examination. Exceptions to this rule will be granted only upon a written petition by the student to the Department.

A faculty member has the right to refuse to direct a thesis without stating specific reasons. However, once he or she has agreed in writing to direct a thesis, the directorship may not be relinquished unless both the student and the Department are informed of the reasons in writing. A student may ask the Department to appoint a new thesis director at any time.

If the Director Leaves

A thesis director leaving the University should state in writing whether he or she wishes to continue to direct doctoral theses already in progress. Even after leaving the University, faculty member is ordinarily expected to continue directing theses until their completion. But if the departing faculty member declines to continue the thesis direction, the student will be given every assistance in finding a new director.

Penultimate Draft

The student shall present a penultimate draft of the thesis to the Graduate Advisor no later than the fifteenth day of March in the year the student intends to graduate. The Graduate Advisor shall then distribute the thesis draft to the members of the dissertation committee, who shall have one month to prepare their evaluations. If all members of the committee agree that the thesis is acceptable, the student will then prepare a final copy and arrange for a thesis defense.

Revised Thesis

If one or more members of the committee judge the thesis to be unacceptable, the student will be asked to rewrite the thesis so as to satisfy the objections of the disapproving reader(s). If all members of the committee are then agreed that the revised thesis is acceptable, the student will then prepare a final copy and arrange for a thesis defense.

If the revised thesis is deemed unacceptable by a majority of the entire committee, it is considered rejected. If the revised thesis is deemed unsatisfactory by a minority of the committee, then the Department may decide either to overrule the objection and recommend approval of the thesis, or it may appoint a fourth reader. If the fourth reader rejects the thesis, then it is considered rejected.

In the case of rejection, the Department may decide either to permit the student to undertake a new thesis, or it may terminate the candidacy of the student.

The Final Defense (optional)

The Department expects each student to have a Final Defense with the approval of the graduate advisor, although in exceptional circumstances the director of the thesis may waive the defense. The defense will normally be conducted by the dissertation director, the readers of the dissertation, and the Dean of the Graduate School or his/her representatives. If the candidate so wishes, other graduate students may attend and participate in the discussion.

The defense will focus on the problems and potentialities of the thesis. Its purpose is to provide a forum not for approving the thesis (which has already been done) but for a general discussion of the thesis as a contribution to knowledge for the benefit of the candidate.

Dissertation Defense Information Form

Complete and submit to  Julissa Bautista  by March 15, or no less than 1 month in advance of your planned defense date.

Dissertation Defense Information Form (PDF)

Additional Dissertation Information

Grievance procedures and appeals, brown graduate school dissertation guidelines, additional ph.d. information, fields of study, funding and financial aid.

150 Strong History Dissertation Topics to Write about

dissertation structure history

Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging and exciting moments of an academic career. Such work usually takes a great deal of time, courage, and intellectual effort to complete. That’s why every step in your work process is essential.

It all starts with finding a good topic, which can be a challenge of its own. It especially matters when it comes to liberal arts subjects. In social studies, literature, or world history options are practically endless.

Coming up with history dissertation ideas, you need to think of historical events that interest you. We get it, choosing one is tough. There can be too much to wrap your head around. That’s why IvyPanda experts prepare some dissertation topics in history ready for you.

  • How to Choose a Topic?
  • Ancient History
  • Medieval History
  • Modern History
  • Cold War Topics
  • American History
  • European History
  • Indian History
  • African History
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • How to Structure

🧐 How to Choose a History Dissertation Topic?

Before examining our ideas for dissertation topics in history, you should get ready for this. You have to understand how to pick a history dissertation topic, which will ensure your academic success. Keep in mind that this is a vital step in your career.

So, check some tips on picking what to write about:

  • Make sure that the topic fits in your field of study. You have to understand what you’re writing about. Basing your paper on existing knowledge and experience is a part of any dissertation. Working on an overly complicated idea can sound impressive but lead to failure. It will become a nightmare already on the stage of writing a dissertation proposal. How can you write the entire thing without comprehending it?
  • Estimate whether you’re interested in the topic you intend to write on. Although this might seem obvious, yes. However, being actually invested makes a massive difference for your further work. There are plenty of students who settle for “easy but boring” topics and end up struggling twice as much.
  • Ensure that your topic is specific enough. Your idea should have the potential for fruitful research. Narrowing down your area of study is essential for writing a good dissertation. It helps you to find the direction of your examination and enough sources to work with. Moreover, this way, you’ll be able to explore your topic in its entirety.
  • Do some prior research. It will give you an understanding of how much literature on your topic is out there. Take notes of the materials for the reference list and your analysis. Checking history essay samples is a good idea, too.
  • Don’t be shy to ask your dissertation advisor for some assistance. After all, they are here to help and guide you through the process. Besides, you have to see what ideas they consider relevant and appropriate.

👍 Good Dissertation Topics in History: Time Period

History is a subject as ancient and vast as the humankind itself. It’s only rational to study it according to a particular timeline. Here are some good history dissertation topics for different periods.

🏺 Ancient History Dissertation Topics

  • Ancient Civilizations: The Maya Empire . The Maya was an incredibly powerful Empire with its prime around six century A.D., excelling in mathematics, calendar-making, astrology, and writing. It faced the decline of its city-states in nine century A.D., leaving a rich cultural heritage to the studies of subsequent generations.
  • Women’s Roles and Gender relations in the Ancient World
  • Greek City-States . Ancient Greece is the place where the first city-states were formed. How did the first governments in the ancient history timeline develop? How did people’s attitudes towards leadership change in that context?

A city-state was the community structure of ancient Greece.

  • Ancient Near-Eastern Thought and the Old Testament
  • The Inca Empire as a Great Civilization of Pre-Columbian America
  • The Impact of Mongol Invasion in Ancient Arab
  • The personality of Julius Caesar and His Effect on Rome
  • The Role of Poets and the place of Poetry in Ancient Greece
  • Mesopotamian Civilization . This was a fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It has been home to some of the world’s wealthiest and most advanced ancient cities. It can also make an excellent archaeology dissertation topic. There are plenty of fascinating sites that could be studied.
  • History: Ancient Greek Olympics . Started in 776 BC, the Olympic Games were the most important cultural event in Ancient Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus every four years. Besides, the Olympics were representative of the triumph of physical and spiritual power.
  • Warfare and Violence in Ancient Times. Try to do a comparative analysis of warfare techniques used by different ancient civilizations. It could be a great dissertation topic.
  • Burial Rituals in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece: a comparison
  • Plutarch’s Vision on Alexander the Great
  • Dissolution of the Roman Empire . The Empire sprawled from the coast of North Africa to the territories of the modern UK and Armenia. Once, it was the most powerful political entity in the entire Mediterranean. The empire, however, collapsed in 476 CE. What were the reasons for its eventual decline?

There are at least 8 prominent reasons for the Roman Empire's decline.

  • How Geography Has Impacted the Development of Ancient Cultures
  • Cause and Effect of Art on Classical Societies
  • The Invention of Papyrus and its impact on the World
  • Chichen Itza Archaeological Site . Chichen Itza is a great pre-Columbian archaeological site, home to the Maya civilization. It is a fascinating study case in many aspects. Consider the origins and Maya history. Analyze the cultural preservation issues that it faces nowadays.
  • Egyptian Pyramid’s Importance in Egypt’s society
  • The Stone Age Period and its Evolution

🛡 Medieval History Dissertation Ideas

  • Cultural Exchanges in the Medieval Period . In the aftermath of the Roman Empire’s fall, new geopolitical conditions formed. The early Middle Ages period already marked the appearance of new trade routes. It fostered cultural exchange between nations.
  • Rome in the Middle Ages and its cultural transformation
  • The Development of Feudalism and Manorialism in the Middle Ages
  • The Catholic Church and the Black Death in the 14th Century . During the high Middle Ages, the plague epidemic terrorized Europe. It was a dreadful challenge to medicine, religious institutions, and the social apparatus of the time. How did the Catholic Church deal with such a complex and disastrous medical phenomenon?
  • Jews and Muslims in Medieval Spain . Christian, Islamic, and Jewish communities shared the Iberian peninsula in the early Middle Ages. It formed a vibrant cultural environment.
  • London during the Roman Age: A Critical Overview
  • Causes of the First Crusade of 1095-1099
  • Twelfth-Century Renaissance, how Franciscans reacted to it and benefited from its development
  • Business and Empire, the British ideal of an Orderly World
  • The Black Death, Late Medieval Demographic crisis, and the Standard of Living controversies
  • The Role of the Church in the life of the Middle Ages

Over the Middle Ages, the church was the only universal European institution.

  • Medieval Siege Warfare . Exploring methods of defense used during the Middle Ages might be an interesting research project.
  • The Conditions of Hindu and Islamic women in Medieval India
  • Why the Crusades Failed
  • The Mechanical Water clock of Ibn Al-Haytham, his philosophy of the rise and fall of empires
  • The Renaissance and its Cultural, Political and Economic Influence
  • The Dark Ages as the Golden Ages of European History . Plenty of facts demonstrate civilization’s decline during the Middle Ages. It was, nevertheless, the time of significant scientific, literary, and technological progress. For some interested in writing a medieval literature dissertation: think of Dante’s Divine Comedy . Da Vinci made his groundbreaking study projects during the Middle Ages. It was the time when first universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford, were founded. Overall, this period has a lot to offer!
  • Japan’s Development Under Edo/Tokugawa Shogunate
  • Historical and Theological Context of Byzantine Iconoclasm
  • Medieval Convivencia: Document Analysis

🕰 Modern History Dissertation Topics

  • World History: Enlightenment in Society and its Impact on Global Culture
  • Nationalism and its 19th Century History
  • Why Mussolini and the Fascists Were Able to Seize Power in Italy
  • Religious Symbolism in Renaissance paintings . Renaissance is well-known as a period when fine arts were thriving. It was an early modern birthplace of many technological and cultural advancements. Religion, however, was still a central topic in visual art.
  • Industrial Revolution and its Impact on Western Civilizations
  • Principles of Liberalism and Its Connection to Enlightenment and Conservatism
  • “History and Topography of Ireland” by Gerald of Wales . Looking for an incredible Irish history dissertation topic? Then this document might be an interesting prompt. Its somewhat controversial tone of describing contemporary Irish culture, history, and traditions can be subject to a comprehensive analysis.
  • Moral treatment of Mental Illness . Over the 19th and 20th centuries, psychology has changed. Moving from a scientific periphery, it became one of the central subjects of scholarly discussions. Mental illnesses were highly disregarded in earlier centuries. People even considered them to be manifestations of demonic possession. How did this attitude change? Why did people rethink psychology as a scholarly discipline?
  • A History of the Cuban Revolution

The Cuban Revolution started in 1953.

  • Abraham Lincoln’s Historical Influence
  • Role of Women During the Spanish Civil War
  • Conquest and Colonization of America by European Countries . Colonization of America is one of the grandest enterprises in the world’s political history. What were its driving forces?
  • Origins and Trajectory of the French Revolution
  • Major Impacts of Consumerism in contemporary world history
  • Coco Chanel Fashion: History of Costume . Probably not the first topic for a history dissertation that comes to mind. Chanel is truly an iconic figure in modern history, though. She revolutionized the fashion industry concerning gender as well.
  • Causes of the Breakup of the Former Yugoslavia
  • The Russian Working Class Movement . Before 1861, the agriculture and peasant-owning system were the foundation of the Russian Empire’s economy. Serfs made up a significant part of the population, accounting for over 60% in some regions. Then the serfdom abolition happened. A lot has changed in the economic and social life of the country.
  • Segregation During the 1960s
  • Historical Development of Feminism and Patriarchy
  • Monetary and Fiscal Policy during the Great Depression

🔔 History Dissertation Topics on Cold War

  • The Role of Cold War in Shaping Transatlantic Relations in the Period from 1945 to 1970
  • The showdown between the United States and the USSR . Cold Was was essentially the power struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. It unleashed in the aftermath of World War II. This political precedent came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the answer to the “Who won the Cold War?” question may be unclear.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis , its causes, and effects
  • US Foreign Policy during the Cold War. Cold War, as a phenomenon, has many layers to it. Yet the one crucial is the contest of two ideologies: democracy and communism. How did the US shape its foreign policy and pursue its interests abroad? And how did the cultural and political setup within the country adjust to it?
  • To what extent did the Cold War shape the US relations with Latin America?
  • What was the importance of Berlin in the Cold War?
  • Japan’s role since the end of the Cold War
  • Cold War Politics, Culture, and War . Exploring the Cold War causes and effects can be quite a challenge. It is such a multifaceted phenomenon. It was a war led on many fronts. Both USSR and the US pursued their interests using a variety of methods.

For your history dissertation, analyze the Cold War from different angles.

  • How did Cold War propaganda influence the film industry?
  • What were the challenges in the post-cold war world?

🗺 History Dissertation Topics: Geographical Regions

Every country has its historical course, and so does every continent. Geography has always been an important factor when talking about history. It shapes historical trajectory in varied, unique ways.

Look at a dissertation topics history list based on geographical regions:

🦅 American History Dissertation Topics

  • History of Hollywood, California . Oh, Hollywood. A place where American movie history was born. What about Hollywood’s history? Although a less traditional American history dissertation topic, it is still a fascinating one. Explore the way technological advancements in filmmaking were introduced over the decades. How did they influence the film’s general style?
  • History: Migration into the United States . How did migration influence the economy of the time?
  • The Relationships between the Settlers and Native Americans
  • Literary works’ Views on Slavery in the United States
  • Causes of the Civil War in America
  • What is the real meaning of a cowboy?
  • The United States military experience through the eyes of films
  • Attack on Pearl Harbor: Effects of Foreign policy
  • Causes of Depression in the 1890s
  • Has President Obama’s Presidency changed the US?
  • The role of Founding Fathers in American Society and Religion
  • Post-Civil War reconstruction . Consider the way America’s economy, trade, and finance transformed in the aftermath of the Civil War.
  • Principal causes and consequences of the Spanish-American War
  • Why was the Declaration of Independence written?
  • The Significance of the Frontier in American History
  • How is a “new racial narrative” in the U.S.A created?
  • American Revolution and the Crisis of the Constitution of the U.S.A. Rethink the origins of the American constitution, as well as the following events. It could be an exciting thesis idea for an American history dissertation.

The US Constitution can be recognized as a crisis.

  • Growth and Development of San Francisco and Los Angeles after the Gold Rush
  • The Role of Racism in American Art
  • Drug Use and Abuse in America: Historical Analysis

🏰 European History Dissertation Topics

  • Age of Discovery in Europe. The Age of Exploration in Europe lasted from the 15th to the 17th century. Over this period, Europe actively engaged with other territories and continents. Discoverers formed new international relations and expanded geographical knowledge. This topic could also make an excellent cultural history dissertation.
  • Analyzing the Impact of British Colonization
  • Nationalism in World War II
  • Effects of the Industrial Revolution concerning World War I
  • The Rise and Fall of Napoleon and the Cause of Revolution . Napoleon is one of the most prominent figures in French history. What has shaped his career as a political leader?
  • History of Hitler’s Nazi Propaganda . Consider a brief history of Germany. Undoubtedly, the rule of Hitler and the Third Reich was its most devastating chapter. The “art” of propaganda flourished during the nazi regime. It penetrated the cultural, political, and social life of the country.
  • Evolution of the IRA
  • Napoleon’s Strategy and Tactics in his Invasion of Russia . For someone interested in writing a military history dissertation.
  • Industrial Revolution Impact on Gender Roles
  • Witchcraft in Europe (1450-1750) . Witch hunts took place as early as the Middle Ages in Europe. Held by the Church in most cases, witch hunts targeted those who were suspected of practicing black magic. Examine this both astonishing and problematic phenomenon.

Witch hunts are strongly tied to the gender discrimination.

  • French Revolution: Liberal and Radical Portions
  • West European Studies: Columbus’s Journey
  • History of Feudalism . Feudalism dominated the European way of life during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. What were its distinctive features as a system? Why did it eventually fade away?
  • Europe’s perception of Islam in the Early and Middle centuries
  • Cold War Consequences for European Countries
  • Mutated Medical Professionals in the Third Reich: Third Reich Doctors
  • Was the Holocaust the Failure or the Product of Modernity?
  • How did the use of print change the lives of early modern Europeans ?
  • Early Modern England: a Social History
  • Jewish Insight of Holocaust

⛰ Indian History Dissertation Topics

  • History of the Indian Castes. The Indian Caste system is a complex and unique example of social stratification.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s Leadership . Gandhi is, for sure, among the greatest human rights advocates in the world’s history. His one of a kind leadership style is subject to many studies. While practicing a peaceful form of civil protest, he fought for equality, independence, and compassion.
  • Political conflicts in India in the XVII century
  • Impacts of the First World War on British Policies in India
  • Movement Against the British rule in India. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, with the support of the National Congress, the movement took place in 1920-22. It sought to fight for the freedom of Indians.
  • The Origin and Course of the Indian revolt of 1857
  • The Issues of the Partitioning of India in 1947
  • India Since 1900 . India is a region rich with unique traditions. Its spiritual and cultural heritage goes back to antiquity. The country’s authentic art and architecture, music, and cuisine have served as an inspiration worldwide. A considerable part of its history is, however, affected by British rule.

Colonization has created a merge of cultures in India.

  • Women in Hinduism and Buddhism
  • The British East India Company

🌍 African History Dissertation Topics

  • Ancient Societies in Mesopotamia and Ancient Societies in Africa: a comparison . Egypt is one of the most ancient African civilizations. Its origins go back to the third millennium B.C. Back then, the cultural exchange between Egypt and Mesopotamia was flourishing. What were the significant differences between the two civilizations? What did they have to offer to one another?
  • Political Violence in South Africa between 1985 and 1989
  • Did History of Modern South Africa begin with the Discovery of Diamonds and Gold?
  • Nelson Mandela: “Freedom in Africa.” Nelson Mandela is, without a doubt, one of the central figures in African history. His devotion and tireless effort in fighting against apartheid were remarkable. Thanks to him, many sub-Saharan countries enjoy the freedoms and advances of a democratic society.
  • The Cult of the Dead in West Africa: The Kongo People . African tribal rituals and traditions are unique and specific to their region. Cult of the Dead is prevalent in Western African culture. It can be notoriously known as the origin place of voodoo and other black magic practices. There is yet much more to this culture. Dismantling some prejudices could make an excellent African history thesis.
  • Christianity, Slavery, and Colonialism: the paradox
  • The Colonial War in Southwest Africa
  • African-Europe Relations between 1800 and 2000
  • Impacts of Slavery and Slave Trade in Africa
  • African Communities in America

There are organizations of African immigrants in the US.

🎨 Art History Dissertation Topics

Art comes in all shapes and forms. To grasp it better, we can explore each kind separately. Here’s a list of art history dissertation ideas:

🎶 Topics on Performing Arts

  • History and Development of Ballet . Ballet is an art form with a long history. Initially, a specific dance originated in Medieval Italy. It was later brought to France and Great Britain. Ballet thrived in the 20th century Russia, where Russian choreographers brought it to the highest level of mastery.
  • The Life and Work of William Shakespeare: His Contribution to The Contemporary Theater
  • Jazz Music in American Culture . Jazz is one of the most complex and exciting music genres of all time. It was born in the 20’s century black communities of New Orleans and quickly spread across America and then the world. The genre, however, will always be an integral part of African-American identity.
  • The Instrumental Music of Baroque: Forms and Evolution
  • Rock Music of the 1970s
  • Michael Jackson’s Life as a Musician and Choreographer
  • Development of the Symphony Orchestra in the 19th and 20th Century
  • Woodstock Music Festival . This massive music festival that first took place in 1969 was the epitome of hippie culture. It has a rich history that once again underscores the importance of performing arts in Western culture.
  • The History of Modern Chinese Music
  • The Renaissance Theater Development. The era in which both visual and performing arts were thriving. It has a lot to offer for proper dissertation research.

🖼Topics on Visual Arts

  • Art Period Comparison: Classicism and Middle Age
  • Vincent Van Gogh: Changes in the Technique
  • The Ambiguity of Mona Lisa Painting

The US Constitution can be recognized as a crisis.

  • Orientalism in Western Art . It’s commonly associated with romanticism and some 20th-century artworks. Orientalism is a Western term that speculates the aesthetics of the Orient. Consider this concept as a prism through which Westerners viewed the Eastern world.
  • Classical Art and Cubism: History and Comparison
  • Postmodern and Modern Art . The 20th and 21st centuries have been a breeding ground for many forms of fine art to emerge and flourish. Some art movements presented their philosophy in the form of manifestos. These texts can be nothing but a pure treasure for someone writing an art history dissertation.
  • Female Figures in Ancient Greek Sculpture
  • Andy Warhol’s Career . Pioneer of pop-art, creator of Studio 54, and a style icon.
  • Filippo Brunelleschi and Religious Architecture
  • The Photographic Approaches Towards American Culture of Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand

📋 How to Structure Your Dissertation?

An adequately structured history dissertation can immensely help students. It ensures that they present their ideas and thoughts logically. Sticking to a particular dissertation structure is an essential element of such work.

Proper organization of a history dissertation can improve the working process.

The general plan of any dissertation type is the following:

  • Title Page. A title page should only contain essential information about your work. It usually shows your name, type of the document (thesis, research paper, dissertation), and the title itself. A good history dissertation title is crucial! It’s the first thing a reader will see.
  • Acknowledgments. Do you wish to give credit to someone for supporting you during the tiresome months of your work? This is the right part to do so, be it your family, friends, or professors. It is an excellent form to express gratitude to those who proofread your drafts. Or those who brought you another cup of coffee when you needed it.
  • Declaration. This section is your written confirmation. You declare that all the research and writing is entirely original and was conducted by you. If someone intellectually contributed to your project, state it in the acknowledgments.
  • Table of Contents. Essentially, it’s a brief structure of your dissertation. List every section that you’ve included in your academic paper here.
  • Abstract. This is the section where you write a brief summary of your dissertation. It should describe the issue, summarize your core message and essential points. List your research methods and what you’ve done. Remember to make it short, as the abstract shouldn’t exceed 300 words or so. Finish the part with a few essential keywords so that others can find your work.
  • Introduction. A dissertation introduction presents the subject to the reader. You can talk about the format of your work. Explain what you plan to contribute to the field with your research.
  • Literature Review. The chapter reviews and analyzes pieces of scholarly work (literature) that have been made on the subject of your research. The sources should present relevant theories and support your thesis. Be sure to discuss the weaknesses and strengths of the selected area of study and highlight possible gaps in this research.
  • a code of conduct;
  • research limitations;
  • research philosophy;
  • research design;
  • ethical consideration;
  • data collection methods;
  • data analysis strategy.
  • Findings and Results. Restate everything you have found in your research. However, do not interpret the data or make any conclusions yet.
  • Discussion and Conclusion. In this chapter, you should personally interpret all of the data and make conclusions based on your research. It is essential to establish a logical link between the results and evidence. Finally, conclude the overall study. You can add final judgments, opinions, and comments.
  • References. This section contains a list of references to all the sources that you used. Write down every material, which you quoted, mentioned, or paraphrased in your work. Check your educational institution’s guidelines to see how to do so correctly.
  • Bibliography. Similar to the reference section, a bibliography is a list of sources you used in your dissertation. The only difference is that it should contain even the sources you don’t directly mention in your writing. Whatever helped you with the research, you state here.
  • Appendices. The section may include any supplementary information that explains and complement the arguments. Add pictures, diagrams, and graphs that serve as examples for your research subject.

An appendix of the history dissertation should be available to provide the reader with evidence.

Writing a dissertation is the right challenge for those with ambitions and lots of determination. It is a lot like a marathon, and it starts with choosing the right topic. We hope that you will find one for yourself on this list. Good luck! Share the article to help those who may need a piece of advice or some history dissertation topics.

🔗 References

  • How To Write A Dissertation: Department of Computer Science, West Lafayette, Purdue University
  • Ph.D. Thesis Research, Where Do I Start: Don Davis, Columbia University
  • Writing with Power: Elbow P., Oxford University
  • Writing a Thesis or Dissertation – A Guide to Resources: Gricel Dominguez
  • The Elements of Style: Strunk, W. Jr., White, E.B., Angell, R.
  • A Collection Of Dissertation Topics In American History: asqauditconference.org
  • Yale History Dissertations: Department of History, Yale University
  • Dissertation Outline: School of Education, Duquesne University
  • Developing a Thesis Statement: The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Writing an Abstract: The Writing Center, George Mason University
  • Formatting Additional Pages: University of Missouri Graduate School
  • Reference List vs. Bibliography: OWLL, Massey University
  • How to Write Your Dissertation: Goldsmiths University for The Guardian
  • Tips on Grammar, Punctuation and Style: Kim Cooper, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
  • Acknowledgments, Thesis and Dissertation: Research Guides at Sam Houston State University
  • Thesis Formatting, Writing up your Research: Subject Guides at University of Canterbury
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dissertation structure history

Rachel Grace Newman

Historian specializing in modern Mexico and Latin America

3 ways to write a history dissertation chapter

I wrote my first chapter last year while I was still doing research. I had my dissertation map all filled out, but it was a less-structured tip from a friend that helped me actually begin. She suggested that I think of an anecdote, moment, or event that was a window onto what I wanted the chapter as a whole to say. I could start writing by narrating that moment and then let the chapter develop from there.

I chose a moment and told the story, then drawing in other primary sources that I felt helped explain this original anecdote. I developed the structure as I added more and more primary sources. The first version of the chapter was long and very fun to write. But as you could guess, it didn’t have much of an argument: analytically, I didn’t know where I was going when I began writing.

I now had to figure out what the analytic through-line could be and weave that into the text. This meant lots of reorganizing and rewriting the introduction and conclusion. It was hard to incorporate a lens onto the evidence when I didn’t have it in mind when I first chose and wrote about the sources. But the benefit of starting this way? I broke the ice and enjoyed the first part of the writing process. As I’ve written more since then, it gets easier to see how to revise that chapter in the future.

By the time I was ready to start the second chapter, I decided that I wanted to have an argument before, not after, diving into close analysis of my primary sources. This time, I started by studying a concept that I wanted to use in the chapter. Then, I wrote a version of the chapter introduction, laying out for myself the chapter’s argument and structure. Only then did I start to work with my sources and add them in to the text.

As I read sources carefully, I realized that the argument wasn’t quite working. I changed the introduction and then went back to analyzing more sources. I ended up rewriting the introduction many times as the chapter grew longer. This was helpful to keep the balance between a) having a direction and a point and b) actually having evidence to make that point. But I felt frustrated about so much rewriting, and once again, I found it a challenge to settle on the structure of the chapter. On the other hand, I wrote the second chapter much faster than the first, and I felt more satisfied with the argument in the end.

I wanted to try something else for chapter 3. I’d realized that both of my entry points into chapters–working with analysis and argument, and working with evidence and narration–were essential for me to think through my ideas, but maybe I didn’t need to ask the earliest text I wrote to ultimately become part of the chapter.

To begin writing-for-thinking, I created two documents, one for analytic brainstorming, and one for what I called source narration–writing about my primary sources. For about a month, I added things to both documents. I wrote in full sentences, completely cited my sources, and organized the evidence into categories. But I didn’t expect any of the text I produced to  be  my chapter. I didn’t want to feel attached to the language or organization I used while I was thinking things through.

Only then did I begin to consider how to structure the chapter. It wasn’t how I had organized the sources in the source narration document, after all: it was a better structure that fit the argument I was honing in on. Then, I made an outline for the chapter that I actually followed.

I got to work writing the sections, using a different document for each section to encourage me to just focus on one part at a time. By this time, I was teaching, so having manageable chunks to tackle helped a lot as I juggled multiple responsibilities. As I wrote, I pulled in sentences and citations from the source narration document and avoided having to go back to the original. I didn’t often open the analytic brainstorming document, but that work influenced what I wrote in the actual chapter. Once I had written all the sections–first the body sections, then the chapter introduction and conclusion–I finally put them all together. I removed some redundancies, and added a few things that seemed to be missing as the whole coalesced from the parts.

The final revisions to the chapter involved adding in some more evidence and context, sharpening and modifying some arguments, and revising some of the analytic language. The revisions felt easier than what I’d done for chapters 1 and 2. I liked that this method first gave me time to process ideas and documents in an unstructured, low-stakes way, and then encouraged me to write at a faster pace with less rewriting. (Of course, it will get revised again down the line.)

After a few days of work on chapter 4, I seem to be trying some new and some old tricks for the next part of the dissertation. I’m not sure the approaches I’ve used progress from worst to best–maybe some topics, arguments, or moments in the writing process are better suited to some strategies than to others. As I’ve experimented, I’ve written in my journal–the research journal has become a writing journal–about what I’m doing and how I feel it’s working. I’ve also shared my work at different stages in Google Chat meetings with colleagues/friends, had conversations with committee members, and presented at public workshops. Both affirmation and criticism from my readers have helped me to figure out what to do next. Introspection and sharing have been key complementary activities to writing dissertation chapters no matter what strategy I use.

I don’t expect to ever settle on one way to write a chapter, and I think that doing something different each time has helped me to stay engaged through this long process.

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Table of contents

Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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  • Researching your dissertation

When it comes to thinking about dissertations, it's useful to know how and where to look for material, both within Cambridge and further afield. The following is some guidance on finding various different types of material, whether primary or secondary.

Finding books in Cambridge

Finding books outside cambridge, finding articles.

  • Unpublished material

Online sources

Subject gateways.

For further help our LibGuide has lots of information about how to carry out research in History.

a woman in the library

Finding secondary material

The best place to begin looking for secondary material is a specialist bibliographical database covering your area of interest, eg. the Bibliography of British and Irish History . Teaching staff will be able to advise on what databases there are in your subject area. There may not be a specialist database covering your topic, in which case a more general literature search may be the best way to begin. Literature searches may also help you to find supplementary material, and to identify what is available within Cambridge.

Literature searches will help you to identify a viable topic of research, or a new angle from which to approach a subject, and they will also ensure that you do not duplicate work in progress. You will need to be compiling lists of material to consult at the same time as taking organised notes and writing; you should not wait to complete the reading before beginning to write.

For searching across library catalogues in Cambridge, use iDiscover ; as well as searching library holdings it also retrieves records for ejournals and ebooks, and can be extended to search databases such as JSTOR . You can also turn searches into RSS feeds (for alerts when any relevant items are added to the catalogue).

The University's ebooks@cambridge team subscribe to thousands of ebook titles, including key resources such as the Cambridge Histories and Cambridge Companions. These are searchable through iDiscover; if there is an electronic copy of the book you are looking for, it will have the phrase "[electronic resource]" in the record after the title, and you can follow the link in the record directly through to the text. Ebooks are easy to use, can be accessed from home and can normally have several users accessing the text simultaneously, so access is almost always available.

You may need to extend your search beyond Cambridge, to see if there is material available elsewhere which is not held by any of the libraries in the university. Library Hub Discover  is the best way for finding material held in libraries in the United Kingdom; it is the combined catalogue of the UK's major research libraries (including the British Library, National Library of Scotland and National Library of Wales), as well as various specialist research libraries and collections. The catalogue contains over 32 million records. It is possible to search by subject, author, title or keyword, and you can restrict your search by date, place published, type of material (eg. periodicals, maps), or language. Search results will display where an item is held, and provide links to an electronic copy, if there is a freely available one. 

The Document Delivery Service is available to help support students access difficult to locate material. This includes Inter-Library loan and Rapid Inter-Library loan.

If you are working away from Cambridge (for example, during the vacation), you may be able to get access to other higher education libraries in your area; visit SCONUL Access  for more information.

For catalogues of libraries outside the United Kingdom try WorldCat , a catalogue of over 10,000 libraries, which indexes 1.5 billion items.

You will need to look at journal articles as well as books, as journals are often where the latest, most up-to-date historical research is published. There are several citation databases which you can search for articles which might be relevant to your topic. As well as general historical databases, there are also more specialised ones, covering various regions, periods and topics. (Most of these will require a Raven password for off-campus access.) To search across the full range of electronic journals Cambridge subscribes to go to the ejournals@cambridge page. It is also possible to search across popular databases for article titles (as opposed to journal titles) on iDiscover.

Key general databases

  • Historical Abstracts: This covers the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada). Published since 1954, it indexes over 3,100 academic historical journals in more than 40 languages; thousands of new citations are added every year.
  • Scopus: This database is by far the largest citation database available to members of the University. It covers a range of disciplines and includes information about where articles have been cited.

Digital journal archives

  • JSTOR: A digital archive of over 1,000 journals; it can be subject-searched and gives immediate online access to articles in titles to which the University subscribes.
  • Project Muse: Full-text access to nearly 500 journals from over 130 scholarly publishers.

Region/country databases

  • America: History and Life: A companion title to Historical Abstracts. There is not online access, but the print copy can be found in the University Library (North Front, Floor 6, classmark: P660.b.31).
  • Bibliography of British and Irish History: A bibliographical database of historical writing dealing with the British Isles, the British Empire and the Commonwealth, from 55 B.C. to the present, containing over 500,000 records. (It is worth noting that it is not an exhaustive bibliography of works relating to the British Empire and the Commonwealth; it covers the relations of those countries in the Empire and the Commonwealth with Britain.)
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies: A bibliographical database covering articles and book chapters on all parts of Asia published since 1971.
  • Index Islamicus: A bibliographical database of books, articles and reviews on Islam and the Muslim world.

Chronological databases

  • International Medieval Bibliography: A bibliographical database covering medieval civilization, containing over 440,000 records.

Topical databases

  • ATLA Religion Database: A bibliographical database covering theology and church history, containing over 1.7 million records.
  • Bibliography of the History of Art: A bibliographical database on European and American art from late antiquity to the present, covering material published between 1975 and 2007.
  • History of Science, Technology & Medicine: amalgamation of a few separate bibliographies. Includes historiography and the role of science in society and culture from prehistoric times onwards.

Unpublished material (dissertations and theses)

There are several different databases for searching for university dissertations and theses, whether produced in the United Kingdom or further afield.

  • History Online: Contains a directory of history theses and research Masters produced in the U.K. since 1970, along with a list of theses currently in progress.
  • EThOS: The national thesis service: a British Library-administered database of over 300,000 theses from U.K. universities.  Those which have already been digitized can be downloaded for free, but if the thesis you want to look at has not yet been digitized, you will have to pay a fee.  (Cambridge dissertations are listed on Ethos but not supplied by the service.
  • ProQuest Digital Dissertations: A database of 2.4 million dissertation and theses citations from 700 academic institutions worldwide, offering full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997.
  • Apollo: Cambridge University's institutional repository.  Includes a collection of voluntarily deposited Ph.D. theses.

Crystal Palace

Finding primary sources

You can access more online resources through iDiscover and the UL's eresources@cambridge page , which includes links to visual and sound resources, film and video services, and newspapers (both archives and current).

Some examples of online collections of primary source material:

  • American Memory (Library of Congress): online collection of documents for American history, comprising written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music.
  • British History Online: digital library of primary and secondary sources for medieval and modern history of the British Isles
  • Empire Online: online collection of original documents relating to empire studies, including exploration journals, periodicals, government papers, maps.
  • First World War: Personal Experiences: database of digital images of original documents, including diaries, letters, personal narratives, scrapbooks, and visual sources.
  • German History in Documents and Images: digital collection of original historical materials documenting German history from the beginning of the early modern period to the present.
  • UK Parliamentary Papers includes over 200,00 House of Commons sessional papers from 1715, with supplementary material back to 1688.

In Cambridge

ArchiveSearch  provides finding aids and links to digital records for the majority of archives located in the city of Cambridge., including the archives of many colleges, and of the Churchill Archives Centre .

In the United Kingdom

You may need to visit archives outside Cambridge as part of your research. To find out what archival material is held where, there are various union catalogues of archive material:

  • National Archives: Formerly the Public Record Office, this repository holds the national archives for England, Wales and the United Kingdom (there are separate national record offices for Scotland and Northern Ireland). They have extensive online catalogues , which can be searched by subject, and you can access their online collections and download copies of documents.
  • National Register of Archives: A register of over 44,000 unpublished lists and catalogues, detailing the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records relating to British history. These are "non-official" archives covering the holdings of local record offices, national and university libraries (including Cambridge), specialist repositories, museums and other bodies in the United Kingdom and abroad, as well as papers held privately by individuals, firms and institutions. The research guides on the website explain how the National Register of Archives can be used for locating material on particular topics.
  • Archives Hub: A national gateway to descriptions of archives of over 180 UK repositories (including Oxford and Cambridge); again, you can search by subject.

To search the holdings of archives outside the United Kingdom, try Archive Grid , a major catalogue of historical documents, personal papers and family history material held in repositories around the world; you can search for collections by topic.

Subject gateways are online portals to subject-specific resources, and can be excellent places to look for more information on your topic. Some gateways where the sites have been evaluated by experts include:

  • History Online: Created by the Institute of Historical Research, this initiative indexes books and journal articles, details history lecturers in the U.K., digital history projects, and current and past historical research.
  • History Data Service: This project collects, preserves, and promotes the use of digital resources, which result from or support historical research, learning and teaching.
  • Connected Histories: A collection of digital resources on early modern and 19th century British history.
  • Online resources
  • Electronic resources by paper
  • Libraries, archives, museums, galleries
  • Keeping up-to-date

SEGA Nerds

8 Tips on Structuring Your History Thesis

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So, you’ve finally made it to writing your dissertation? Congratulations! Now comes the hard part: planning and organizing your research. This can be even more difficult than doing an entire semester’s worth of work on the thesis in one go. Once you’ve done that initial research, you need to figure out how to structure it into a persuasive argument with academic merit.

Most college students are familiar with the thesis statement used in essays. But it’s not the same as writing a thesis. Your dissertation should be an argument that you can support with evidence from your research.

As such, the process of writing a history thesis can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By hiring a professional writer from EssayHub , you can create a strong and cohesive argument that will impress your professor. Whatsmore, it will make the process a little less intimidating.

Here are some tips which should help you develop a well-structured and compelling argument.

Know Yourself, Know Your Topic

dissertation structure history

Don’t try to write the ‘definitive’ history of something before you know enough, at least in outline form, about what has been written on your topic. This means that you need to go beyond reading secondary sources and begin with primary source research.

This can even include archival research in the early stages of your studies if your topic is extensive or not very deep yet. In short, get yourself out from behind the library desk and see your topic from a wider angle than just bookshelves!

Establish Your Contribution

In the introduction of your thesis, you need to clarify the novelty of your research. How does it move forward existing historiography on this topic? If you had not written about this topic, would anyone be writing on it now?

Be Aware of Current Debates and Intersections Between Different Fields

Make sure that the wording in the early chapters conveys that some important literature exists both within history itself and outside it. For example, lots of international history draws on many sources, including social science methodology. So, know which side of the fence your contribution falls on!

Map Out the Structure of Your Argument

dissertation structure history

Decide how you will approach your primary source material and plan this in advance. For example:

  • National 
  • Chronological

Your argument will probably develop along the way, so get an outline of your main chapters and sections together before you start writing anything!

Structure the Introduction

Your thesis should begin with a clear introduction that explains your topic and sketches out your argument. It should not just be a summary of what happens in each chapter! You need to tell the reader why this research is interesting and relevant to existing historiography on the subject.

This is where you can ‘sell’ yourself by explaining how your background prepares you for researching this topic. For instance, you may be very familiar with primary sources in German because of past studies. Or you may consider aspects of your research that may be of interest to a non-specialist audience (e.g., policy or political history).

Arrange the Historical Chapters

Most history students will include some kind of chronological element in their thesis. Whether through the use of a thematic chapter structure within a specific time period(s) or by using ‘transitions’ between periods and themes so that they flow in and out of each other in an ordered fashion.

The best way to consider how your information should be presented chronologically is to look at examples from other history dissertations, which you can find on the internet via Google! Try writing brief summaries/synopses for three different structures before making your final decision. This will help you reflect on which way of organizing your material will make for the most cohesive argument.

Shape the Conclusion

Your conclusion should not simply summarize what has gone before but instead bring together (in some form) all of the different strands of evidence/argument which have developed in your thesis and place them within a wider historiographical context, outlining what other historians have written on this topic.

Where does your work fit into existing understandings? How do you see it developing further? This should be interesting to anyone who has read the whole thesis because it explains how each chapter relates to another. These links can helpfully be drawn up in advance as an outline or diagram so that they are easy to follow!

The importance of writing a clear conclusion cannot be stressed enough. Many students forget to do this, so their chapters each stand on their own. But a thesis should be written as a whole unit, not just in terms of information.

Create a Bibliography

Your bibliography will usually fall into two sections – primary and secondary sources – which are separated by a line with round brackets on either side.

Secondary sources might include historiography/theory or any other kind of ‘background’ reading relevant to your topic. For example, if you were writing about 20th-century German history from an international perspective, you might use this space to list publications on diplomacy and foreign affairs (e.g., Jarausch).

Primary sources should be listed chronologically, and often there is room for extra notes on the sources (e.g., if you think some are especially useful or relevant).

Are you struggling with how to structure your history thesis? You are not alone. Many students struggle with this issue. The good news is that there are ways to overcome it. You can look through writing services reviews on NoCramming to find a reliable writing service for your thesis. This way, you’re assured of crafting a masterpiece!

In order to write a successful history thesis, it is important to structure your argument in a clear, concise, and logical manner. Your thesis should present a specific argument and be backed up by evidence from scholarly sources. The more time and thought put into the process before starting to write, the easier it will be to get started with your paper.

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History Dissertation Topics

Published by Grace Graffin at January 9th, 2023 , Revised On June 3, 2024

Choosing the most appropriate topic for a history dissertation can be tricky. Before selecting a topic, it is imperative to have an in-depth knowledge of the historical events or phenomena you wish to evaluate. Complete comprehension of a topic area is necessary before you can go about the task of completing your dissertation.

To help you get started with brainstorming for history topic ideas, we have developed a list of the latest topics that can be used for writing your history dissertation.

PhD qualified writers of our team have developed these topics, so you can trust to use these topics for drafting your dissertation.

You may also want to start your dissertation by requesting  a brief research proposal  from our writers on any of these topics, which includes an  introduction  to the topic,  research question ,  aim and objectives ,  literature review,  along with the proposed  methodology  of research to be conducted.  Let us know  if you need any help in getting started.

Check our  dissertation examples  to get an idea of  how to structure your dissertation .

Review the full list of  dissertation topics here.

Topic 1: Who was Responsible for the European Civil Wars? An Exploratory Study Identifying the Determinants of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War

Research Aim: This research aims to determine various political, social, and economic factors which caused European civil wars. It will use the 1870 Franco-Prussian War as a case study to analyse which political, social, or economic forces played their part in exaggerating this war. Moreover, it will use various historical lenses to evaluate the available evidence in this area to determine the factors objectively. Lastly, it will recommend ways through a historical viewpoint that could’ve saved lives in these wars.

Topic 2: What were the Socio-Economic Discontents of the Second Industrial Revolution? A Marx-Engels Perspective

Research Aim: This study identifies various socioeconomic discontents of the Second Industrial Revolution through the Marx-Engels communist lens. It will analyse how the second industrial revolution brought undesirable socio-economic changes in Europe and the rest of the world. It will develop a socio-economic framework by using Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s critique of capitalism and social class theory to show the second industrial revolution divided the entire world into two classes. Moreover, it will show how imperialist powers used the Second Industrial Revolution to change the world order.

Topic 3: Did Mongols Bring Social Change in Ancient Arab? Impact of Mongol Invasion on Ancient Arab Culture and Traditions

Research Aim: This research intends to analyse the social change brought by Mongols in ancient Arab. It will find the impact of the Mongols’ invasion on ancient Arab culture and traditions by identifying channels such as slavery, forced marriages, etc., through which Mongols brought a cultural change. Moreover, it will find whether Arabs could come back to their original state or whether modern Arabs have their traits. And through which ways did ancient Arabs resist those changes?

Topic 4: What is Common among the United States’ Iraq, Japan, Afghanistan, and Cuba Invasions? A Comparative Study Finding the United States Common Political and Economic Motives

Research Aim: This study compares the United States’ Iraq, Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, and Cuba invasions. It will identify the United States’ common political and economic motives among these invasions, which gave it an incentive to pursue. It will be a multidisciplinary study exploring geopolitical, geo-economic, geo-strategic, and historical aspects of the invasions. Moreover, it will also compare the post-invasion situation of these countries to show how these countries dealt with it.

Topic 5: The Life and Work of William Shakespeare: His Influence on The Modern Theater- A Critique of Dr. Johnson

Research Aim: This study sheds light on the life and work of William Shakespeare by analysing his role in modern theatre. It will try to highlight his contribution to the field of literature and theatre but through the approach of Dr Johnson. Johnson’s works will be evaluated to see whether William Shakespeare has done something significant for modern theatre or it is just a one-sided view of William Shakespeare’s followers. It will analyse various works of William Shakespeare from Johnson’s critical lens to provide an objective assessment.

COVID-19 History Research Topics

Topic 1: the history of coronavirus..

Research Aim: This study will explore the historical facts and theories related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Topic 2: History of Spanish flu

Research Aim: In 1918, a deadly pandemic called Spanish flu hit the world, and many people lost their lives. This study will highlight the history of the disease, its symptoms, and similarities with the present crisis of COVID-19.

Topic 3: The history of various types of pandemics and their consequences

Research Aim: This study will investigate the history of various types of pandemics and their consequences on people’s health, the economy, and the world’s transformation after it.

New History Research Topics

Topic 1: types of communications in history.

Research Aim: This research aims to identify the types of communications in history

Topic 2: Terrorism and its impact on people's life

Research Aim: This research aims to address terrorism’s impact on people’s life

Topic 3: Treaty of Lausanne and the world's predictions about Turkey in 2023

Research Aim: This research aims to conduct a study on the Treaty of Lausanne and the world’s predictions about Turkey in 2023

Topic 4: Mythological stories and their impact on the youth

Research Aim: This research aims to study the impact of mythological stories on the youth.

Dissertation Topics from the Nineteenth Century

Topic 1: analysis of church wealth expropriation and political conflict in 19th-century colombia..

Research Aim: The research will explore the events of political violence after independence in Colombia regarding the redefinition of the Catholic Church’s property rights. The study primarily focuses on the country after 1850 to measure the influence of that expropriation of the Church’s assets on political violence.

Topic 2: Exploring the impact of the 19th-century development of refrigeration on The American meatpacking industry.

Research Aim: The city of Chicago in the United States is known to be the centre of modern refrigeration development due to it being the hub of the meatpacking industry. The proposed research will analyse Chicago’s meatpacking sector’s development and its significant role in developing critical technologies such as refrigeration. The study will examine the development of refrigerated transport and cold storage units to comprehend the city’s meatpacking industry’s local and later global success throughout the 19th century.

Topic 3: Examining the impact of the telegraph in the United States of America

Research Aim: The research uses document analysis to examine the influence of the invention of the telegraph in the United States of America. Specifically, the study will analyse how the telegraph revolutionised communication and news broadcasting to newspapers over national and international networks.

Topic 4: The impact of industrial conflict and technology on the development of technical education in 19th-century England.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the role that 19th-century employers played in training and educating young industrial workers in England. The purpose of the study is to comprehend the various factors that influenced the development of technical education while discovering the reason for antagonistic relations with skilled workers, which may have caused the Great Strike and Lockout of 1897.

Topic 5: The impact of changing gender relations on childbearing populations in the 19th-century Netherlands.

Research Aim: The research will look to comprehend the changes in childbearing patterns using a sequence analysis approach. The study will also try to understand the association between gender relations, historical fertility records, and women’s reproductive patterns in the 19th-century Netherlands.

Topic 6: Examining the shift of hierarchical and ethnocentric foreign relations to the Western model of international relations in 19th-century Japan.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the 19th century, a period of transition in Japanese foreign policy. The study will mainly focus on Russo-Japanese relations using document analysis to assess the four stages of shift that led Japan from an ethnocentric foreign policymaker to the Western type without colonisation and defeat in war.

History and Religious Dissertations

Topic 1: the impact of popular culture on evangelical christians in america..

Research Aim: The research uses document analysis to examine the impact that popular culture has had in shaping Evangelical Christian thought in the United States from the 1960s to the 2000s. The study focuses on analysing the variables that have allowed Evangelicalism to become a middle-class populist movement.

Topic 2: Fertility, feminism, and the American revolution

Research Aim: The research using document analysis, analyses the impact of the American Revolution on declining birth rates in the colonies and the increase of family limitation among white free women. The research will investigate the intentions of founding American women in their rejection of abundant fertility and a patriarchal family and the existent or non-existent role that colonial Christians played.

Topic 3: The decline of irrational and magical ideologies in England 1500-1600.

Research Aim: The research analyses how the introduction of religion, specifically early Christianity, had an impact on declining the conventional thought processes that used irrationality or magic as their basis. The research will use document analysis as its research method.

Topic 4: The impact of religion on innovation, 1604.

Research Aim: The research examines how Sir Frances Bacon’s epistle “Of Innovations” argues for the positive potential of innovation from the understanding of the Biblical scriptures. The study will also explore the relationship between Bacon and the English Protestant Church.

Topic 5: The role of churches and religion in World War II.

Research Aim: The research looks to examine the role of churches in Europe during WWII. The study will also analyse their religious ideologies and their deeds as institutions to impact the perceptions of World War II. The research will be conducted using document analysis.

History and Sociology Dissertations

Topic 1: race, poverty, and food deserts in cardiff, 1980-2016..

Research Aim: The research examines the demographic and spatial patterns that have shaped access to supermarkets in low-income neighbourhoods in Cardiff from 1980 to 2016. The research methods used will be quantitative.

Topic 2: Impact of World War II rationing on British cuisine

Research Aim: The research analyses the impact of rationing items by the British Ministry of Food on the specific culture from the 1940s to the 1980s. The research uses variables of socio-economic classes and geographic locations of the country to examine the cultural impacts it had on the British palate during the time. The research methods will include quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Topic 3: Impact of religious doctrines and ideologies on racism and racist factions in the USA.

Research Aim: The research analyses the relationship between different Christian sects and racial prejudice among groups of Christians based on geographic location (North or South) in the United States after the 2016 presidential elections. The research will be quantitative in nature but will incorporate qualitative techniques of historical document analysis to examine how racism in the country has changed since the Civil Rights Era of the United States.

Topic 4: The historical development and impact of public transportation in Shanghai, China, 1843-1937.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the impact of public transportation on the development of Shanghai’s urban landscape using the variables of tradition vs modernity, state and social relationships, and technology and society relations. The research will provide a historical analysis of the city from the British and the Opium Wars’ colonisation to the 20th century. The study will use qualitative document analysis and quantitative techniques as research methods.

Topic 5: The impact of water resource management, technological solutions, and urban growth after World War II on Atlanta, Georgia.

Research Aim: The purpose of the dissertation is to examine the origins of water-related issues in Atlanta by discovering the challenges that public officials, activists, and engineers faced in the area in terms of planning and enacting an effective environmental policy after World War II in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. The research will use historical document analysis as its methodology.

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ResearchProspect writers can send several custom topic ideas to your email address. Once you have chosen a topic that suits your needs and interests, you can order for our dissertation outline service which will include a brief introduction to the topic, research questions , literature review , methodology , expected results , and conclusion . The dissertation outline will enable you to review the quality of our work before placing the order for our full dissertation writing service !

Historical People and Events Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: examining the events and people giving rise to winston churchill.

Research Aim: The research examines the network of friends and colleagues of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill on how they influenced the primer’s reputation after his retirement and death. The study will analyse the history of the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the influence that Sir John Colville had on shaping Churchill’s image.

Topic 2: The rise of the right-wing woman in 20th-century Britain- Analysing Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse

Research Aim: The relationship between conservative powerhouses Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse was well known to the public for its traditional undertones. The research will examine the relationship between the two women using document analysis, particularly the public presentation relationship, to better understand the importance of conservative women in Britain. The research will analyse the twentieth-century political and cultural contexts that gave rise to these two women.

Topic 3: Examining the cooperative transformational leadership of Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk.

Research Aim: The research will study the transfer of power in South Africa by focusing on the cooperative leadership strategies, policies, and personal characteristics of leaders such as Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk. The research will examine how these two leaders could bring systematic revolution through democratic and peaceful means.

Topic 4: Pablo Picasso- The making of “Guernica” and its historical context.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the history of paintings of people suffering from the convulsion of war, explicitly focusing on Goya. The paper will examine the factors and influences on Pablo Picasso that led to the development of “Guernica.” The research will analyse how Picasso depicted real history snatches with symbolism that resonated with people.

Topic 5: Analysing the role of women in the Crusade Movement.

Research Aim: The research examines women’s contribution to the Crusades and its impact on propaganda, recruitment, organisation of the crusades, and financing of the campaigns. The study will also survey their roles in looking after families and properties while also giving liturgical support at home for those on the crusade campaigns.

Topic 6: The impact of the Harlem Renaissance on urban landscaping, Jazz music, and literature.

Research Aim: The research will examine the Great Migration of the 1910s in the United States, where a concentration of African American population moved North, causing demographic shifts. The study will analyse Toni Morrison’s Jazz, Persia Walker’s Black Orchid Blues, and other works regarding music and urbanisation.

Topic 23: John F. Kennedy- Rise of American foreign power and South Vietnam.

Research Aim: The research will analyse John F. Kennedy’s foreign policy strategies’ central themes. The paper examines the themes of counterinsurgency, credibility, and commitment in South Asia, particularly South Vietnam, to improve his credibility after the Bay of Pigs incident. The paper will observe the president’s fascination regarding psychological warfare, military forces, and countering ‘communism’ aggression in Southeast Asia.

Italian Unification History Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the preservation of italy- analysing the fragility of italian unity 1866-68..

Research Aim: The research analyses the impact of the Austro-Prussian War at its conclusion in July 1866. The paper analyses factors such as the fall of the Liberal government in Britain that impacted the fragility of the Italian Unification. The paper examines the historical event through the bilateral relationship between a newly rising Italy and Britain.

Topic 2: Analysing the Italian post-unification period- Racial and colonial factors influencing modern Italians.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the rise of Italian fascism with the premise that it rose from the failures of previous liberal governments. The study particularly examines the first Liberal period after unification, which led to the explosion of civil war in the South of Italy. The study will analyse the racial and colonial factors that influenced the competition with Western European nations for imperialistic endeavours.

Topic 3: Prison system management in 19th-century Italian prisons after unification.

Research Aim: The research analyses accounting practices in prisons using documentation analysis of the prison management system of major Italian States in the early 19th century. The study aims to use various accounting methods to uncover the potentially socially damaging tools of accounting in prison reforms to discipline individuals of lesser status.

Topic 4: The impact of the mafia on Italian education after unification.

Research Aim: The research will use historical point data to analyse the impact the Mafia had on the level of education between 1874 and 1913. The particular geographic constraint of the study will be restricted to Sicily, Italy, after the unification of the Italian Kingdom in 1861.

German Unification History Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: examining the parties and problems of governance in the german empire..

Research Aim: The research will examine, using document analysis, the various processes for political restructuring that caused the founding of many political parties, interest groups, and civic associations. The research analyses how the Federal Republic strategised to transfer German Democratic Republic citizens’ sovereign rights to international institutions and the Federal Republic institutions.

Topic 2: Analysing the collapse of the GDR and the reunification of Germany.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the factors and influences surrounding the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1898 to 1990 and the reunification of East and West Germany. The research will also analyse the role of businesses with regard to the collapse, particularly the German business elites and their relationship with the Soviet Union.

Topic 3: Analysing the impact of Bismarck on the capitulation of German liberalism.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the impact the German National Liberal party of 1866 to 1867 had on supporting Otto von Bismarck’s policy of German unification. The study will examine the political stakes involved and the philosophy of Realpolitik in the Unification of the German Empire.

Topic 4: The impact of radical nationalism and political change after Bismarck.

Research Aim: The research will examine the factors that gave rise to the radicalisation of the German right under the politics of Otto von Bismarck. The study looks to find evidence of German fascism prior to World War II. To conduct the research, a thorough document analysis will be done with an extensive literature review.

World War I Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the response of german immigrants to discrimination in the usa during world war i.

Research Aim: The research will examine the impact of caste-based discrimination on assimilation patterns of immigrant minorities, specifically German immigrants in the United States during WWI. The study will understand if discriminated minority groups increase their assimilation efforts to avoid discrimination and public harassment. The research will use naming patterns of children and records of petitions of naturalisations to conduct the study empirically.

Topic 2: Analysing the impact of affective experience and popular emotion on WWI International Relations.

Research Aim: The research will examine the factors of communal emotion and mass emotion during the outbreak of WWI to demonstrate the political significance of widespread sentiment. The research looks to study the factors with regard to contemporary populism.

Topic 3: The impact of military service in WWI on the economic status of American Veterans?

Research Aim: The research will analyse the different registration regimes during the WWI draft to find their impact on economic outcomes. The research will use empirical from 1900 to 1930 United States to study short-term impact of military service, while the United States census of 1960 is used to determine the long-term impacts. The data collected will be of household income and draft population of the time in WW1.

Topic 4: Examining the Impact of Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in WWI to support British armies on the Western Front.

Research Aim: The research will examine the history of the Quarrying Companies unit within the Royal Engineers in WWI. The study will analyse the impact that the group had on British armies on the Western Front, particularly for the aid of the British Expeditionary Forces until its disbandment in 1919.

The Great Depression (Britain 1918-1939) Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the impact of the great depression on labour productivity..

Research Aim: The research will examine the labour productivity of the UK manufacturing industry during the Great Depression. The research will be of empirical methodology and collect data on actual hours of work, real output, and employment statistics. The study will prove that during the Great Depression, output per work hour was counter-cyclical between 1929 and 1932.

Topic 2: Analysing the discourse of British newspapers during the Great Depression.

Research Aim: The research will use document analysis and text analysis to examine the rhetoric of British newspapers when unemployment rises. The study will accurately analyse the Great Depression in Britain by determining how the stigmatisation of poverty changes in the rhetoric of newspapers when discussing unemployment.

Topic 3: The Impact of the Great Depression on British Women Migration 1925-1935.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the impact that the Great Depression had on the migration of women out of Britain to the rest of its empire. The study will use empirical data to analyse the Society for Overseas Settlement of British Women (SOSBW). The research will assess if the society’s training programme influenced the employment and migration of women.

Topic 4: The Great Depression and British industrial growth- Analysing economic factors contributing to the Great Depression in Britain.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the British deceleration of industrial growth and the percentage rate of growth as the cause of the Great Depression in Britain. The research will examine the contribution of the Industrial Revolution and its initial rapid percentage of rate of growth causing ‘retardation.’ The study will be empirical and analyse historical patterns of Britain’s national economy.

Second World War Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: analysing brazilian aviation in world war ii.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the extent to which Brazilians were actively engaged in combat on the Brazilian coast and in the European theatre. The study will primarily focus on the global conflict through the Forca Aerea Brasileira, FAB, or the Brazilian Air Force development before participation in the Second World War.

Topic 2: The impact of invention secrecy in World War II.

Research Aim: The research will examine the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent secrecy orders which put over 11,000 US patent applications given secrecy orders. The study will analyse how this policy impacted keeping technology from the public during the war effort, specifically radar, electronics, and synthetic materials.

Topic 3: Analysing aerial photographic intelligence in WWII by British geologists.

Research Aim: The research will examine the period of WWII from 1939 to 1945 when intelligence was collected from aerial photographs by the Allied Central Interpretation Unit. The study will assess the history of aerial photographic information based on geology contributing to the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944.

Topic 4: Analysing British propaganda in the United States during WWII.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the strategies that British propagandists used to understand the American opinion of WWII during the war and for post-war relationships. The study will investigate the policies and factors that contributed to keeping the wartime alliance and creating an acceptable political climate in the United States for post-war cooperation.

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History of Nazi Germany Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the impact of discrimination against jewish managers on firm performance in nazi germany..

Research Aim: The research will examine the large-scale increase in discrimination in Nazi Germany to cause the dismissal of qualified Jewish managers in large firms. The study will analyse the persistent stock prices of firms, dividend payments, and return on assets after the discriminatory removal of Jewish managers.

Topic 2: Examining children’s literature in Nazi Germany

Research Aim: The research will analyse children’s literature which was propagandised between 1933 and 1945 under the National Socialists party. The paper will examine the various themes, specifically the Nordic German worldview, and how German values were distorted to produce a homogenous folk community.

Topic 3: Shifting from liberal education of the Weimar Republic to Nazi educational reforms- Analysing educational reforms under the Nazi government.

Research Aim: The research will examine education reform that the National Socialist government implemented in elementary education. The research will look to accumulate personal accounts of families and students who experienced the era to better comprehend the educational reforms. The study seems to under how these educational reforms moulded student ideologies.

Topic 4: The effects of antisemitism in film comedy in Nazi Germany.

Research Aim: The research will explore the themes of antisemitism in film comedy produced during the reign of the Nazi party in Germany. The research will study how themes impacted the perceptions of people living in Germany post-war. The research will use document analysis and empirical analysis to document and examine the themes and attitudes.

History of Cinema Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: analysing the history and politics of bollywood..

Research Aim: The research will explore the various events in Indian film history that have allowed it to become a global sensation. The paper will analyse its market-driven triumph against Hollywood imports starting from the 1930s. The paper will also examine the nationalist social views of films produced in Bollywood during the 1950s.

Topic 2: The role of cinematic depictions influencing popular understanding of the Spanish Civil War.

Research Aim: The research will examine the role that cinema played in shaping the understanding of the Spanish Civil War. The study will focus on fictional films that were produced in Spain and Hollywood between the 1940s and the early years of the 21st century.

Topic 3: Analysing distinctive characteristics of Korean films.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the characteristics of Korean films and examine their historical development. The research will focus on the eras of the Japanese colonial period to 1945 when the American army occupied South Korea. The study will analyse the role of censorship throughout this time period in producing Korean films.

Topic 4: Examining the history of cinema in Britain since 1896.

Research Aim: The research will explore the development of cinema exhibitions and cinema-going in Britain in 1896. They will analyse various factors that led to the rapid growth of cinema in Britain just before WWI. The study will examine factors such as the position of cinema, the development of modern spaces, artistic respectability, the invention of sound, and cinema as individual entertainment.

History of Racism Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: analysing the factors influencing institutional racism in america..

Research Aim: The research will explore the complicated history of racism in the United States. It will analyse how racism has become embedded throughout American society, from land ownership, education, healthcare, employment, and the criminal justice system. The research will use a mixed-methods research approach to gather data.

Topic 2: Examining the relationship between racism and environmental deregulation in the Trump Era.

Research Aim: The research will analyse the possible relationship between environmental deregulation and racism between 2016 and 2017 under the Trump Administration. The study will primarily collect data from executive actions, ecological events, and tweets from the President during this time period. The study will document racist events that were targeted at people of colour, Asians, Arabs, South Asians, Muslims, and indigenous persons.

Topic 3: Analysing the experience of racism in English schools towards Eastern European Migrants.

Research Aim: The research will use qualitative design to analyse the experience of racism faced by students of Eastern European descent. The research will use the framework proposed by the Critical Race Theory and Critical Conceptions of Whiteness to conduct the study. The research will focus on the racism experienced by these students as marginal whiteness for their various linguistic accents.

Topic 4: The impact of racism on Afro-Italian entrepreneurship.

Research Aim: The research will use qualitative data to analyse the participation of Afro-Italian women entrepreneurs in start-ups relating to beauty, style, and hair care lines. The study explores the obstacles that young black women entrepreneurs face in Italian due to racism and how their inclusion in small economies changes the perception of Blackness and Black womanhood related to Italian material culture.

Also Read: Religion, Theology and Philosophy Dissertation Topics

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History of Spanish Civil War Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: examining the role of international nurses during the spanish civil war..

Research Aim: The research will use document analysis, primarily memoirs, to explore the life and work of international nurse participation during the Spanish Civil War. The study will examine their role with regard to contributions made to Spanish nursing during the war.

Topic 2: Examining republican propaganda during the Spanish Civil War.

Research Aim: The research will explore the propaganda used by the Republicans of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 to support their ideology of the war. The paper will focus on three primary forms of media – newspapers, cinema, and music. The study will conduct the analysis using historical context to examine its effectiveness in propagating the Republican messages.

Topic 3: The history of British Battalions in the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War.

Research Aim: The research will examine the role, experiences, and contributions of British volunteers to the Spanish Republic through the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade. The study will accurately analyse the motivations of the volunteers to join the International Brigades and participate in the Spanish Civil War.

Topic 4: British cultural perspectives on the Spanish Civil War.

Research Aim: The research will explore the cultural perspectives of the political understanding of the British responses to the Spanish Civil War. The study will examine the mass culture and personal experiences of British visitors to Spain in the 1930s.

History of the United States Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the impact of ‘the frontier’ on american expansion and imperialism..

Research Aim: The research explores the idea of ‘manifest destiny, its connection to the American frontier, and its impact on imperialism. The study focuses on how the American perception of savagery and civilisation is related to expanding the American frontier.

Topic 2: Analysing the American public opinion on the War in Vietnam.

Research Aim: The research uses empirical data to analyse the American public attitude with regard to the Vietnam War. The data will be analysed using demographic groups and perception studies. The study will investigate how these perceptions eventually shaped government policy preferences during the Vietnam War.

Topic 3: Analysing the inaugural speeches of re-elected US presidents since WWII.

Research Aim: The research identifies, analyses, and assesses the use of individual style in inaugural speeches of re-elected US presidents since WWII. The research will be conducted using document analysis of lexical and semantic levels. The study will assess how the inaugural addresses are shaped to reflect the public policy of re-elected presidents.

Topic 4: Analysing the rise of white power and paramilitary groups in the United States.

Research Aim: The research analyses the rise and expansion of white nationalists and racist far-right groups using government publications, journalistic accounts, and archival records. The research focuses on the failure in Vietnam, giving rise to white power movements. The study will examine various events to assess the factors and significance that caused an increase in paramilitary groups in the United States.

Topic 5: Examining the rise of new white nationalism in America.

Research Aim: The research will use data acquired from speeches, books, and internet sources written by white nationalists to assess the shift of white nationalist ideas of oppression of other races to a view of victimhood of white nationalists. The research will use an extensive literature review to document the development of white nationalism in American history while also considering the development of social media.

Historic Events of Early Twentieth-Century Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: the creation of uniquely american musical sounds; changes in classical music from the 19th to 20th century..

Research Aim: The research explores the changes in American classical music, shifting from its traditional European origins to a more defined American sound. The study will contend that historical events such as the upheaval and shifts of society during the American Civil War were the main factors in the creation of new American classical music.

Topic 2: The influence of political parties on democracy and party-state relations in the 20th-century.

Research Aim: The research will analyse institutional reforms of party-state relations, including constitutions, electoral laws, and party laws in France and Italy during the 20th century. The study will examine the impact of party entanglement on contributing to democratisation in Europe.

Topic 3: The impact of suspicion and distrust on conflict coverage- A case study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Research Aim: The research will use inductive-qualitative analysis to examine the journalistic narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To do so, the factors of suspicion of information sources, awareness of being under suspicion, and distrust of peer journalists are used to examine the trust of journalists and the dilemmas they face in hostile environments.

Also Read: Project Management Dissertation Topics

List Of Top Trending Dissertation Topics For History Students

  • Decolonisation Movements and the Reshaping of Global Power Dynamics
  • The Rise of Social Media and Its Influence on Historical Narratives
  • Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Historical Research
  • The Cold War’s Legacy in the Context of Contemporary Geopolitical Tensions
  • Redefining National Identity in a Globalised World
  • A Long-Term Analysis of The Environmental Consequences of Industrialization
  • The Representation of Race and Gender in Historical Film and Television
  • The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation in Museums and Historical Sites
  • Space and its Influence on International Cooperation
  • Cyberwarfare and its Implications for Global Security
  • The Role of Technology in Shaping Revolutions Throughout History
  • The Power of Propaganda and its Role in Shaping Public Opinion
  • The Interconnectedness of Global Trade Routes and Historical Exchange
  • The Black Death’s Devastating Impact and its Long-Term Social Repercussions
  • The Rise of Populism and its Challenges to Democratic Institutions
  • The History of Censorship and its Impact on Freedom of Expression
  • The New World and its Devastating Consequences on Indigenous Populations
  • The Scientific Revolution and its Challenges to Religious Authority
  • The French Revolution’s Legacy: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Their Unfinished Business
  • The Unintended Consequences of Technological Advancements Throughout History
  • The Power of Social Movements in Driving Political and Social Change
  • The History of Espionage and its Influence on International Relations
  • The Role of Diplomacy in Resolving International Conflicts
  • The Vietnam War’s Legacy and its Enduring Impact on American Society
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the United States and its Global Influence
  • The History of LGBTQ+ Rights and the Ongoing Fight for Equality
  • The Challenges and Opportunities of Urbanisation Throughout History
  • The History of Mental Health and the Changing Attitudes Towards Treatment
  • The Role of Religion in Shaping Historical Events and Social Development
  • The History of Education and its Impact on Social Mobility
  • The Power of Literature and Art in Reflecting and Influencing Historical Change
  • The Role of Espionage in Shaping the Outcomes of Major Historical Events
  • The Challenges of Preserving and Interpreting Historical Artifacts for Future Generations

Important Notes:

As a student of history looking to get good grades, it is essential to develop new ideas and experiment with existing history theories – i.e., to add value and interest to your research topic.

The field of history is vast and interrelated to so many other academic disciplines like literature , linguistics , politics , international relations , and more. That is why it is imperative to create a history dissertation topic that is particular, sound, and actually solves a practical problem that may be rampant in the field.

We can’t stress how important it is to develop a logical research topic; it is the basis of your entire research. There are several significant downfalls to getting your topic wrong; your supervisor may not be interested in working on it, the topic has no academic creditability, the research may not make logical sense, and there is a possibility that the study is not viable.

This impacts your time and efforts in writing your dissertation as you may end up in a cycle of rejection at the very initial stage of the dissertation. That is why we recommend reviewing existing research to develop a topic, taking advice from your supervisor, and even asking for help in this particular stage of your dissertation.

While developing a research topic, keeping our advice in mind will allow you to pick one of the best history dissertation topics that fulfils your requirement of writing a research paper and add to the body of knowledge.

Therefore, it is recommended that when finalising your dissertation topic, you read recently published literature to identify gaps in the research that you may help fill.

Remember- dissertation topics need to be unique, solve an identified problem, be logical, and can also be practically implemented. Take a look at some of our sample history dissertation topics to get an idea for your own dissertation.

How to Structure Your History Dissertation

A well-structured dissertation can help students to achieve a high overall academic grade.

  • A Title Page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Declaration
  • Abstract: A summary of the research completed
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction : This chapter includes the project rationale, research background, key research aims and objectives, and the research problems to be addressed. An outline of the structure of a dissertation can also be added to this chapter.
  • Literature Review : This chapter presents relevant theories and frameworks by analysing published and unpublished literature available on the chosen research topic, in light of research questions to be addressed. The purpose is to highlight and discuss the relative weaknesses and strengths of the selected research area while identifying any research gaps. Break down of the topic, and key terms can have a positive impact on your dissertation and your tutor.
  • Methodology : The data collection and analysis methods and techniques employed by the researcher are presented in the Methodology chapter, which usually includes research design , research philosophy, research limitations, code of conduct, ethical consideration, data collection methods, and data analysis strategy .
  • Findings and Analysis : Findings of the research are analysed in detail under the Findings and Analysis chapter. All key findings/results are outlined in this chapter without interpreting the data or drawing any conclusions. It can be useful to include graphs, charts, and tables in this chapter to identify meaningful trends and relationships.
  • Discussion and Conclusion : The researcher presents his interpretation of the results in this chapter, and states whether the research hypothesis has been verified or not. An essential aspect of this section is to establish the link between the results and evidence from the literature. Recommendations with regard to the implications of the findings and directions for the future may also be provided. Finally, a summary of the overall research, along with final judgments, opinions, and comments, must be included in the form of suggestions for improvement.
  • References : Make sure to complete this in accordance with your University’s requirements
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices : Any additional information, diagrams, or graphs that were used to complete the dissertation but not part of the dissertation should be included in the Appendices chapter. Essentially, the purpose is to expand the information/data.

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How to find dissertation topics about history.

  • History era or event that excites you!
  • Look for the historical roots of modern issues.
  • Seek guidance from professors with research areas you like.
  • Consider the availability of research materials for your topic.
  • Narrow a broad topic into a specific research question.

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Need interesting and manageable Education dissertation topics or thesis? Here are the trending Education dissertation titles so you can choose the most suitable one.

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that deals with movement disorders of the body arising from different conditions. Physiotherapy focuses on performing practices that reduce physical ailments.

Check out the list of most interesting 100+ chemistry dissertation topic ideas trending lately to help you write an exceptional research paper.

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Carnegie Mellon University

Models of Feedback: Interpretation and Discovery

 This thesis is about feedback models in which it is possible that A causes B, and simultaneously, that B causes A. More particularly a kind of statistical model which takes  this form, called a non-recursive structural equation model. Since models of this sort were originally introduced in econometrics, in Chapter One I  discuss the historical background which led to their creation. I consider it to be particularly  important to examine the historical origins in order to try to establish what were the goals  of those who first used these models, and why they considered that these models helped  them to achieve these goals. This is necessary because the original motivation was later  submerged as technical questions began to dominate the research agenda. I also describe  some of the disciplinary factors which led to almost universal acceptance of this model  form, at least among those building macro-economic models. A classic example of feedback is provided by the economic theory of a market: the price of  a good may be a function of the quantity either demanded or supplied, while these  quantities themselves may be influenced by the price or the expectation of price that  consumers or suppliers may have. Thus studies of supply and demand might be considered  the proper area of application for a feedback model. It is therefore somewhat surprising that  some of the most successful studies of demand used models which made no allowance for  simultaneity. I investigate why these empiricists chose not to include feedback in their  models. 'Reciprocal' causation of the kind suggested by the structure of a non-recursive model does  not fit easily with our intuitive notion of cause and effect. Indeed some statisticians have  questioned the meaningfulness and applicability of such non-recursive models. Similar  concerns were voiced by economists and econometricians when non-recursive models were  first introduced. In Chapter Two I describe this debate in detail since I think it raises  interesting issues concerning the relationship between dynamic systems and static models  that approximate them. In addition to quite specific questions about the correct way to  model the world statistically, the debate covered very general questions about causality and  the nature of explanation. The second major theme of this thesis centers upon the inference of causal structure from  observational statistical data, given various kinds of background knowledge. Inferences of this kind are made frequently in the social sciences (economics, sociology, psychology,  epidemiology) where often only observational data are available. It is common in these  fields to find very litde (if any) justified consensus about the causal processes that may  have generated the data. For this reason the traditional method of postulating a "model" and  then seeing whether it is rejected by data is inappropriate. Even if the available data does  not reject the model it is quite possible that there are a large number of others that are also  compatible with the data. Perhaps in one model changes in A (e.g. the interest rate) bring  about changes in B (e.g. the money supply), while in another model the reverse is true.  Suppose one is a policy maker trying to influence B by manipulating A. If the first model is  true the policy may very well be effective, but if the second is true it will be completely  futile, treating the symptoms rather than the causes of the variable B. Evidently it is of little  use to be told that a model is compatible with given data unless one knows all of the other  models that are similarly compatible. Although we may be unable to advise the policy maker about which of many competing  candidates is the 'true' model, we may still be able to infer that certain causal relations are  common to all models compatible with the data. If it turns out that in all such models A is a  cause of B then this may suffice for a policy decision. In order to produce such a list we  must systematically characterize the way in which statistical data underdetermines causal  theories. I have constructed an efficient and correct algorithm which produces a set of features  common to all linear feedback models compatible with data provided as input (assuming  that there are no unmeasured common causes or 'correlated errors'). This algorithm,  presented in Chapter Three, makes causal inferences on the basis of conditional  independence tests. This is an extension of the theory developed by Spirtes, Glymour and  Scheines in their book Causation, Prediction and Search, where it is assumed that no  feedback is present. The output representation of the algorithm, which I call a Partial  Ancestral Graph or PAG, allows for the easy incorporation of background knowledge. In  addition, though I do not discuss this here, PAGs can also be used to represent features  common to a very broad class of recursive models, including latent variables, correlated  errors, and selection bias. Spirtes (1994) also considers the more general class of non-linear, non-recursive structural  equation models. In Chapter Four I present an algorithm for carrying out causal inference,  given certain assumptions, from data generated from a non-linear non-recursive structural  equation model 

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  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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  1. How to organise a history essay or dissertation

    Before you start, you may find it helpful to have a look at some sample dissertations and essays from the past: ask at the Whipple Library. I. Sachiko Kusukawa There are many ways of writing history and no fixed formula for a 'good' essay or dissertation. Before you start, you may find it helpful to have a look at some sample dissertations and ...

  2. PDF A Guide to Writing a Senior Thesis in History & Literature

    Exercise A (20-30 minutes): Brainstorm topics of interest. In the first brainstorm, your job is to write down all of the possible "topics" that you m. ght be interested in researching further with your thesis. Here is where you list all of the themes, people, places, texts, events, movements, ima.

  3. History: Writing a History Dissertation

    The best way to achieve this is to: 1. Record the key ideas, themes and quotes from what you have read. Try to find a uniform way to do this as it will make it easier to find information when you come to write your dissertation. Some formats are freely available on the internet, such as the Cornell Note Taking System.

  4. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  5. PDF University of Warwick Department of History Dissertation Handbook

    In a dissertation of 9,000 words you might have 3 or 4 or 5 of these, each with its own (brief) title, or merely numbered. You may also have further sub-sections. You can, if you wish, call the main sections 'chapters', but this is not really necessary in a piece of work of this length.

  6. How to Research and Write a Compelling History Thesis

    2. Develop a Thesis Statement. To create a thesis statement, a student should establish a specific idea or theory that makes the main point about a historical event. Scribbr, an editing website, recommends starting with a working thesis, asking the question the thesis intends to answer, and, then, writing the answer.

  7. PDF Senior Thesis Writers in History

    History 99: Senior Thesis Seminar Course jectivesob The Senior Thesis Writers' Seminar has a twofold purpose . The first is to provide you with practi-cal guidance and writing advice as you complete a senior thesis in History . We will discuss many of the common hurdles and pitfalls that past students have

  8. How To Create An Effective Outline For History Dissertations

    This will help them create an effective overall structure for their history dissertation. Developing The Introduction. The introduction is an essential element of a successful dissertation. It serves as the foundation for the entire paper, providing readers with an overview of the topic and its significance.

  9. Yale History Dissertations

    The dissertation represents the culmination of years of graduate training. For many, the pages of the dissertation are stained with blood, sweat and tears. And coffee. And more tears. Since 1882, when the first dissertation was presented to the history department for doctoral qualification at Yale, hundreds of scholars have since followed that same path, dedicating themselves

  10. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Tip For a more detailed overview of chapters and other elements, be sure to check out our article on the structure of a dissertation or download our template. Dissertation and thesis outline templates. To help you get started, we've created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format.

  11. How to Structure a Dissertation

    The dissertation will be structured such that it starts with an introduction, develops on the main idea in its main body paragraphs and is then summarised in conclusion. However, if you are basing your dissertation on primary or empirical research, you will be required to include each of the below components.

  12. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    For a more detailed overview of chapters and other elements, be sure to check out our article on the structure of a dissertation or download our template. Note. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT can be useful at various stages of the writing and research process and can help you to outline your dissertation or thesis. However, we strongly advise ...

  13. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  14. Doctoral Dissertation

    Doctoral Dissertation. The capstone, and most critical, project of the Ph.D. program is the doctoral dissertation. The series of courses within the department dealing with professional development concludes with the dissertation prospectus seminar, which students take in the sixth semester, if they have passed their examinations.

  15. 150 Strong History Dissertation Topics to Write about

    150 Strong History Dissertation Topics to Write about. by IvyPanda®. 15 min. 55,667. Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging and exciting moments of an academic career. Such work usually takes a great deal of time, courage, and intellectual effort to complete.

  16. 3 ways to write a history dissertation chapter

    3 ways to write a history dissertation chapter. Posted on June 12, 2017 by Rachel. 1. I wrote my first chapter last year while I was still doing research. I had my dissertation map all filled out, but it was a less-structured tip from a friend that helped me actually begin. She suggested that I think of an anecdote, moment, or event that was a ...

  17. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Award-winning undergraduate theses. University: University of Pennsylvania Faculty: History Author: Suchait Kahlon Award: 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title: "Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the "Noble Savage" on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807". University: Columbia University

  18. Researching your dissertation

    ProQuest Digital Dissertations: A database of 2.4 million dissertation and theses citations from 700 academic institutions worldwide, offering full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997. Apollo: Cambridge University's institutional repository. Includes a collection of voluntarily deposited Ph.D. theses.

  19. 8 Tips on Structuring Your History Thesis

    Conclusion. In order to write a successful history thesis, it is important to structure your argument in a clear, concise, and logical manner. Your thesis should present a specific argument and be backed up by evidence from scholarly sources. The more time and thought put into the process before starting to write, the easier it will be to get ...

  20. PDF Senior Thesis Writers in History

    There is no standard structure for senior theses. For the purposes of the timetable below, a chapter draft is meant to be a substantial and coherent block of writing. The subject and scope of a thesis will dictate how many chapters are included chapters are written. Thesis writers and advisers should discuss plans and expectations for these drafts.

  21. Undergraduate dissertations

    Since 2009, we have published the best of the annual dissertations produced by our final year undergraduates and award a 'best dissertation of the year' prize to the best of the best. Best Dissertations of 2022. Best Dissertations of 2021. Best Dissertations of 2020. Best Dissertations of 2019.

  22. PDF History dissertation structure

    History dissertation structure. A brief summary of your research topic, methodology, and findings (usually no more than 300 words). A list of the main sections and subsections in your dissertation, along with the page numbers where they can be found. A brief overview of your research question or problem, the context in which it arises, and the ...

  23. History Dissertation Topics and Titles

    History of Cinema Dissertation Topics. Topic 1: Analysing the history and politics of Bollywood. Topic 2: The role of cinematic depictions influencing popular understanding of the Spanish Civil War. Topic 3: Analysing distinctive characteristics of Korean films. Topic 4: Examining the history of cinema in Britain since 1896.

  24. Models of Feedback: Interpretation and Discovery

    This thesis is about feedback models in which it is possible that A causes B, and simultaneously, that B causes A. More particularly a kind of statistical model which takes this form, called a non-recursive structural equation model. Since models of this sort were originally introduced in econometrics, in Chapter One I discuss the historical background which led to their creation. I consider ...