What sections should be in my thesis?

After several years, the end of your PhD trajectory is finally in sight and your research is (almost) complete. But now comes the next, most challenging and final step in the process: writing your thesis. In it, you present your PhD research and results.

If your thesis is favourably assessed, you will be awarded a PhD. It is therefore important that it is put together well. When writing your thesis, it is useful to have a clear basic structure. To which structure should you best adhere? And what sections should be in your thesis? In this blog, we tell you more about the most important sections.

The preface

The first part of the thesis is the preface. This is a brief introduction to the topic and why you have chosen it specifically. However, you don’t go into the substance of the topic itself here, as this comes in the introduction. In the preface, you mainly talk about your individual experience and what your research is about. If everything goes to plan, this is research you are enthusiastic about. Above all, reflect this enthusiasm, and show that it is an interesting topic.

You have also probably discovered something new during your research. Give readers a sneak peek to arouse their curiosity. However, it is important to keep it short and to the point. After all, you want readers to read on.

The introduction

The table of contents and then the introduction follow the preface. The introduction is different from the preface. In the preface you mainly talk about your own experiences and why you have chosen the topic. In the introduction, however, you state what the thesis is about. As the name suggests, it is intended to introduce the reader to the subject.

Here, you refer to the problem statement, the sub-questions that have been defined and the chapters in which you will be addressing them. It is important that you don’t talk about the results in the introduction just yet. Instead, arouse your reader’s curiosity about the results.

Tip: Write the introduction last and only when the rest of your thesis is complete.

Chapters with sub-questions

After the preface, table of contents and introduction, the next part of the thesis is the chapters themselves. How many there are, as well as their content, is entirely up to you. In the chapters, you outline the entirety of your research and address the sub-questions and finally the main question. It is important that the chapters form a concrete whole. One should also be able to make sense of them as separate units.

You conclude the chapters with a bibliography. This is a clear list of references of all national and international sources you have consulted. Make sure it is accurate and follows a consistent reference style.


The final part of putting a thesis together is writing your acknowledgements. This should be consistent with the research and pay tribute to all those who have helped you. It is important not to overdo it and to keep your acknowledgements specific and genuine. This piece should really hit home and be written with extra attention. Indeed, we know from experience that this is one of the most read parts of a thesis.

Other indispensable sections in a thesis

We have outlined the most important sections in a thesis for you. But you’re not there yet. There are a number of other sections that are important and which shouldn’t be neglected. As such, remember that the following items are also included in your thesis:

  • The colophon (with ISBN number)
  • The university title page
  • Figures & tables showing important results
  • The references
  • A summary in English and Dutch
  • A list of publications of articles you have written yourself.
  • Any appendices

Finally, you also shouldn’t forget the thesis cover. For example, an image for the cover and text for the front, spine and possibly the back.

Have us design your thesis!

Once your thesis contains all the important elements, the final step is to perfectly design it and have it printed. We would love to help you create an amazing version of your thesis. Contact  us, or ask Magnificus on our website!

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