How do I Write a History Dissertation?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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In order to write a history dissertation, quite a bit of prep work must be completed. A history dissertation is meant to be the final product of a doctoral program in history. Although many universities offer PhD programs in history, with some variation from program to program, it is quite common for doctoral students to complete coursework, research, and sometimes even field work before they begin to write their dissertations. All of this work is crucial as it will inform the content and perspective of the dissertation. Furthermore, as a student completes this work, she is likely to have regular meetings with an academic adviser who will help her to shape her research in a manner that will best serve the dissertation.

There are a number of ways for a student to organize her notes and research materials in preparation to write a history dissertation. The organization process should be partly informed by the student's own working habits and partly informed by the required structure of the thesis. Each university has requirements for the length, structure, and formatting of a history dissertation. It is best to learn about these requirements early on and make sure that they are met while the history dissertation is being written. Otherwise, parts of the dissertation may have to be rewritten or re-formatted.


One of the most important aspects of a history dissertation is the thesis, which is the main argument of the entire work. It is crucial to identify a thesis before beginning the writing process so that one's research and ideas can be properly presented in accordance to this thesis. This being said, it is always possible to tweak the thesis as the writing and research continues. New information and new research may give rise to amendments to the thesis. In such cases, it is best to consult with an academic adviser to figure out how to best incorporate the new information into the thesis in particular and the history dissertation as a whole.

For many people, it takes year to write a history dissertation. As such, it is likely that the dissertation will undergo a number of drafts. It is wise to save drafts and make notes of material that is removed from the text as it may be needed later on in a different part of the work. Tips like this can be found in texts on how to write a dissertation, which can be consulted during the writing process.



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