Word length of chapters?


Hi all, sorry for the boring post, I did have a search through previous posts but couldn't find much.

I was just wondering how long your chapters are? I'm working on the first draft of my meth chapter at the mo and it's 10k, I've still got a bit more to write though. The first draft of my lit review is around 25k (very waffly though).

So how long are your intro/lit review/meth/findings chapters/discussion/conclusion?

I know it varies widely, but any info would be much appreciated!


I'm aiming for:
Intro 6000
Historic background/key concepts 7000
lit review 1 12000
method 12000
lit review 2 12000
results & discussion totaling 17000 not sure yet how this splits
concl 9000
appendices 3000
Though the chapters I've drafted so far are all running long so this is probably more an indicator of the proportions I'm aiming at than absolute lengths. Thank you for posting this question - on adding up my words to answer I realised that I have more leeway than I thought having excised two irrelevant chapters and not adjusted the word counts accordingly :-)


Hi Button,

I'm in education & I've been advised to keep all chapters the same length, so 8 @ 10,000 words each. My supervise early on told me it would "write itself" - no sign of that magic yet!!



Mog, Patrick Dunleavy's well-regarded book ''Authoring a PhD'' also suggestd 8 X 10k, or at least very similar lengths.
Obviously this may not suit any given thesis, but I think I'm going to aim for that also. I'm only a first year though, so we shall see!


I'm in education too - but have been told that the lengths can vary! If you know that your supervisor has an idea about who will examine this then they may tailor the lengths as necessary, bearing in mind what the examiner likes - mine says she likes to keep them all to around 6000 or so so that each chapter can be read easily in one sitting, which I supose makes a bit of sense -but does depend on the number of chapters you have.


My introduction, methods and general discussion were all around 6-7000 each. The other chapters were all around 10000, these each had some intro, methods, results, discussion in them. I had 8 chapters in total, which meant overall the thesis was 70000.


I didn't get any guidelines per se but used the 10k approach and the lenght varied between 8 and 12,500. As long as you're not missing on aspects and not adding irrelevant stuff, you'll be fine!


I am hoping for:

introduction: 1.500
introductory chapter 1: 3.000
chapter 2, 3, 4 (general lit. review): 30.000 (10.000 per chapter with variations depending on content)
chapter 5 (focus country lit. review): 15.000
chapter 6 methodology: 5.000
chapter 7 findings: 10.000
chapter 8, 9 discussion + recommendations: 20.000
chapter 10 for something I want to propose: 10.000
conclusion 1.500

approximately 96.000 + some thousands for footnotes + abstract = about 100.000 (highly optimistic scenario though, as I'll probably reach 150.000 and will not know how to cut them down then)

I hope it helps :)


Hi Button,

I've read some of the other posts with trepidation - my methodology chapter is currently sitting at 16,000 words so I'm guessing I should probably split it into two sections based on what has been said below!

My chapter structure is roughly as below:

Intro: 2,500
Chapters 1 and 2 - both literature review and contextual: 12,000 words each (similar to you)
Methodology - 16,000 (!)
Chapters 4 and 5 - both analysis chapters: 13,000 words each (I am a bit superstitious though so I might have to do something about this!)
Conclusion and recommendations: 12,500 words

All subject to change of course once the draft is in!



Are you guys/ girls in social/ pure science PhD? Are those in pure science PhD write this number of words in each chapter also? Or is it much lower than this?


I'm social sciences, I believe "pure" sciences have a lower word count, about half according to my university guidelines.


I'm in the humanities.

5 chapters. At the moment I've written 3 out of the 5 and they are approx 25,000 each. So that's 125,000!!!!

No wonder my sup calls it an ambitious thesis!

(I will cut if down obviously people - don't have a heart attack)


I'm in social sciences.

I have 8 chapters (3.5 written and 2 started...)

My plan is:
Introduction: 5000
Literature review 1: 8000
Literature review 2: 8000
Methodology: 12000
Analysis 1: 13500
Analysis 2: 13500
Analysis 3: 13500
Conclusion/Discussion: 5000


My uni's guidelines are for up to 80000 words....