Dissertation and Thesis: Where They Become Identical and Where They Differ?

When you go to graduate school or start your PhD degree, you need to get prepared to write a thesis. In case you are doing your post-graduation, then you need to come up with an impressive dissertation in order to successfully get their degree. As you gradually proceed towards the end of your course, you get worried about the final project which is either a thesis or dissertation. Getting graduate degree, whether Master’s or Doctoral is highly challenging and it can be frustrating as well if you don’t know how to take up a dissertation or thesis writing task.

Whether it’s a master or a PhD, these degrees are all advanced and complicated. To get over with the final assignment which is either thesis or dissertation you need to be continuously engaged with the material. You are into a masters or PhD program means you are on the way to become an expert, so you need to prove your worth through your dissertation or thesis.

To start with, you need to know the primary differences between a thesis and dissertation. Many universities in the UK clarify the main difference of dissertation and thesis in this way - ‘A dissertation can be seen as a detailed application for acceptance into faculty, whereas thesis is an informative report on a topic.’ Although these two academic assignments have many similarities, it’s the purpose of writing that sets these two poles apart.

According to Andrew Holmes, Physics Professor at University of Bristol, “Most of the students consider the term dissertation and thesis as interchangeable. But from the intention to the length, everything is different when it comes to writing a dissertation and thesis.” As per UK standard of composition, let us compare and contrast features of these two academic papers.

First, let's start with similarities

While writing dissertation and thesis, you need to be sure about what are some similarities that you need to know about or else you might fail to learn how to take these two writing tasks differently.

  1. Originality speaks

According to professors and academic dissertation experts, plagiarism is a strict no when it comes writing academic papers. Primarily when you are working on a dissertation or thesis paper you can't compromise with the quality of the paper.  Dissertation or thesis should be clear about what you have found and how you want your arguments to be organised. While writing you should mention explicitly that which idea is yours and which is of other writers? To check plagiarism, you can always use software and tool to be able to distinguish between the original content and copied content. Using this software and tools, you will be able to make sure that the entire work contains only original content.

You need to reference information that you are gathering from other sources accurately. You need to reference data with appropriate and sources appropriately. Some academic institutes in the UK offer students second chance to bring it up to the mark if they somehow fail to achieve the cut off in the first attempt. But it is never suggested to wait for the second chance and trying to come up with the best version at the first attempt.

  1. Thesis and dissertation defence

For thesis as well as a dissertation, you always need to give oral presentations to defend your thesis. Same, you need to do with your dissertation. Most universities require oral presentations which are called thesis and dissertation defences. This means students need to present and defend their work and argument in front of a panel of experts and professors. Your audience will be likely to ask your questions to understand your work better and to check how valid the project is. At the end the discussion, the professor will evaluate your research project and will grade it. This process is same for both types of papers.

  1. Whether you are working on a thesis or a dissertation depending on few factors, you need to do the following:


  • While writing dissertation and thesis, for both you need to develop a sound dissertation proposal
  • For both these research papers, you need to explore a specific research question of your interest in depth
  • While writing both types of paper, you need to analyse and review relevant kinds of literature
  • Choosing and applying the proper research methodology as per the research question
  • You also need to explain, interpret and report data and findings
  • For both of these papers, you need to learn implications of your research for a more comprehensive scope.


  1. Researching the Main Proposition

In both these academic paper, one needs to present groundbreaking contemporary ideas based on specific research field. In both these papers, you need to put forward main propositions. While researching a particular topic, it will be unnecessary to shift the research, and it might distract readers from the main points. A PhD thesis will thoroughly refer to reliable sources to support claims and arguments while providing insights into a subject. While writing a dissertation, you need to conduct independent experiments and investigation to test the validity of the primary proposition.

  1. After done with writing the paper, you need to cross over another stage which is Viva Voce

For dissertation as well as for thesis you need to appear for the viva stage where you need to convince that your study is critical and can contribute to the particular field of study. The meeting with the examiners offers students the opportunity to present their unique line of reasoning. Initially, you may face some difficulties to convince the panel as you may have different judgments with the panel. 

Now, how exactly these two types of research papers are different from each other?

Here you will get a short description of how these two types of research papers differ from each other.

  • The first and most prominent big difference between these two types of papers is the typical subject choice for dissertations versus final thesis papers, while thesis should always be composed depending on an original subject including your hypothesis, writing a dissertation need to incorporate original insights and gathered knowledge that you have accumulated throughout your course. To explain this a bit further, a thesis needs to be guided by original research material which you have collected, but while writing the dissertation, you need to come up with an innovative material. Although both require supporting evidence, the dissertation is based more on opinion and subject research. While a thesis puts conclusive research before author's opinion.
  • However, because they are written for multiple different reasons, many distinct characteristics set these two apart. So before you start writing any of these, make sure you know details about how to take up these two different writing tasks.
  • While writing a thesis, you need to invest lesser time in comparison to writing a dissertation. Typically a dissertation is lengthier than thesis paper.
  • While writing a dissertation, you must have a decent knowledge of all up to date information on your subject. You need to know all about discoveries in order to infer your conclusion. But while writing a thesis, you need to include a hypothesis based on your research work.
  • In case of a thesis, you must focus on the primary argument and in order to prove his standpoint while on the other hand, you need to focus more on background work.
  • In the case of a dissertation, you need to find references from other literary sources, in contrast, while writing a dissertation you have to need to depend on your and research to prove your thesis statement.
  • A dissertation is more like an academic book, and a thesis is like an academic research paper.
  • A dissertation is always based on research, theory and arguments. On the other hand, data collected in a thesis will be based on hypothetical analysis of content.

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