A dissertation is an extended piece of writing on a particular subject that has involved extensive research and the use of appropriate sources. While each dissertation will differ from all the others there are still a number of presentation issues that you need to familiarize yourself with.
Most institutions have a set format that is virtually universal. One of the great things about having a formal structure is that it provides the writer with several aspects of a dissertation and gives them a clearer idea of what needs to go in each section.
A dissertation is far more formal than any other academic writing and may need to be submitted as a final piece for your Bachelors degree, but mostly, it's used by postgraduates who are writing up the findings from their MA or PhD. You might think of an MA as a mini PhD but unlike an MA a PhD must make a contribution to the existing state of a specific body of knowledge e.g. religion, history, or English.
When you write a dissertation you'll need an abstract, which is a summary, between a hundred and fifty and three hundred and fifty words (usually) that gives the reader a very potted version of what is to come. Most dissertations and thesis's also require an acknowledgments page, where the writer acknowledges the help and support of others such as their supervisor and/or family and friends.
You will also need a table of contents in your dissertation help that lays out the chapters and each subsection within a chapter along with its corresponding page.
As with most pieces of written work, a dissertation requires an introduction that lays the foundation for what is to come. A reader should be able to get a general overview of the work, by reading the introduction, they should also be able to recognize what you're telling them. After your introduction there should be, what is known as a literature review, a term that can be confusing for some students.
A literature review is where you review of the works of others in your field, and establish where the work that you have done, fits into your current thinking. It takes a new approach to a specific aspect of that thinking, or fills a gap that you have identified in a specific area of a certain body of knowledge.
The next section should be entitled methodology, which describes the methods that you used to obtain the information in the dissertation, why you chose one method in favor of others, and why you believe your methodology was appropriate to the subject. If you collect any empirical data from others then you need to describe how that was done, e.g., questionnaires, interviews etc.
Once you have explained your methods you will need to talk about your data analysis, i.e. the information you found and what you did with that information.
Once you have done all of the above, you then need to summarize that information and explain it in terms of your original questions and of the existing literature. This section represents your analysis of the data you collected and sets the findings out for other people to see. Your analysis will lead you into the concluding section for your dissertation where you should draw all the strands together, identifying where you think further research might be profitable.
Last, but not least, should come your bibliography listing of all the sources you have used, and then your appendices, e.g. questionnaire used, transcripts of interview tapes, etc.