How to Write a Dissertation Introduction Chapter

Your introduction is the first section of your dissertation. It's important to grab the attention of the reader with a strong start. With a clear focus and direction, you set the scene for your research.

A dissertation introduction should tell the reader about your topic, its importance, and your approach to it. You can break down your introduction into five steps.

  • What is the context and topic of the dissertation?
  • What specific aspect of the subject will you focus on?
  • Relevance: why is this research worthwhile?
  • Objectives and aims: What did you set out to discover and how did it turn out?
  • A view of the structure: What will each chapter cover?

Start your introduction

The introduction is usually at the beginning of your dissertation. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the first part. In fact, it’s often the last thing to be written (alongside the abstract).

However, it's a good idea to start with a rough draft of the introduction. You can use a dissertation proposal as a template if it has many of the same elements.

Your introduction should be revised throughout the writing process. You should return to it at its end to ensure it is consistent with the content of the dissertation.

Step 1: Introduce the topic/context

Start by introducing your topic and providing any background information. You want to create interest and demonstrate why the topic is timely or important for a dissertation.

Examples topic

Youth attitudes towards climate change.

Example context

Latest news stories about children's climate strikes and the importance of youth involvement in climate politics.

Step 2: Reduce your focus

After giving a brief overview of your area of interest, you can focus on your specific research topic. Take this example:

  • Which geographical area are your research interests?
  • Which time period is your research covering?
  • Which communities or demographics are you researching?
  • Which specific topics or aspects do you address in your dissertation?

Example Focus

Engagement of British teens with UK climate policy.

It is important to clearly define the scope and boundaries of your research.

Step 3: Show the relevancy of the research

You must explain why you are doing the research, how it is related to other work, and what new insights it will bring. Is the dissertation relevant to your academic field? Is it of greater social or practical importance? Essentially, why is it important?

This section will give you a quick overview of current research on the topic. You will also cite the most relevant literature. Finally, you will indicate how your work fits into the overall picture. In the literature review section, or chapter, you will do a deeper analysis of all sources.

Your research may have practical relevance depending on the field you are working in. Your research might have practical relevance depending on your field. by generating theories or submitting new empirical data.

Your dissertation should clearly explain the significance of your thesis.

  • It helps to solve a theoretical or practical problem
  • This article addresses a gap in literature
  • Based on existing research
  • This topic requires a new understanding


The future of climate policy will be determined by young people. It is therefore important to understand how they engage with the issue. Although there have been studies on British youth attitudes towards climate change, none of these has specifically focused on their engagement with UK climate policy. It is also important to expand on existing research and increase our knowledge about this current phenomenon, given that the youth politics of Climate Change has been very prominent in the last year.

Step 4: Describe your goals and objectives

Next, you must answer two questions:

  • The ultimate goal: What were you looking for?
  • What are your specific goals?

The research question is often used to formulate the overall goal.

Example research question

What can secondary school students do to engage with UK's climate change policies?

These objectives are more precise: they describe how you answered the question.

Your objectives should provide an overview of your research methods and give a glimpse of the data and analysis that the dissertation will be dealing with. If you are including a separate chapter on methodology, however, the objectives don't have to be detailed.

Examples objectives

  • Collect and analyze quantitative data about students' knowledge, concern, perceptions, and opinions of government policy
  • Assess whether concern is associated with age, gender, and social class
  • Use qualitative research to gain insight into the attitudes, perceptions and engagement of students with the issue

Step 5: Give a brief overview of the structure of your dissertation

Your dissertation structure should be reviewed and summarized to help the reader understand it.

The overview should be concise. You should only need to briefly describe each chapter. If your research is more complex or doesn't follow a standard structure, you may need to write a paragraph for each chapter.

For example, a humanities dissertation might develop an argument thematically rather than dividing the research into methods/results/discussion. Even if you have an unusual structure, it is important to explain how everything works together.