Thesis structure


Hello all,

After a long hiatus (7 months off) I am going to try and get this PhD in the bag. I've been doing lots of thinking and I'm really struggling to structure my thesis in the traditional way i.e. theoretical framework, methods, findings, discussion. My study is informed by ethnography and I've used a grounded theory approach to analysis. I'm therefore wondering whether it would be feasible to re-structure the thesis in such a way that reflects this i.e. context, methods, findings, theory, discussion.

I know this isn't the norm, and I know to some extent that it depends on the examiner in question. But has anyone ever heard of a thesis structured in this way? And one that has passed, essentially!!!

Any advice gratefully received. I'm going this alone now so I will need all the help I can get :-)



Makes sense to me but I am afraid I'm no expert. Talk to your supervisor about this.

I also suggest you have a look at Patrick Dunleavy's "Authoring a PhD". Your library should have a copy of it because it's widely recommended. He has a chapter on how to specifically order the chapters of your UK PhD, and I think you'll find it very useful.

There are indeed "norms" but you don't have to stick to them, especially in the social sciences. The main objective, really, is readability and logic. If you can't force a square peg into a round hole, don't.

All the best!


I know it's not a PhD thesis, but this is what Paul Willis did with Learning to Labour. I think this sort of structure would be heavily dependent on your supervisors. I guess 'alternative' structures tend to be readily accepted with auto-ethnographic PhDs.