Conclusions in Honours Theses

Thesis Structure

So, you’ve done most of the hard work, and now it's time to write the conclusion. You will probably have a few questions, along the lines of:

  1. What should (and should not) be in the conclusion?
  2. How long should it be?
  3. What am I trying to say in my conclusion?

What should be in the conclusion?

  1. Conclusions: concise statements about your main findings, related to your aims/objectives/hypothesis.
  2. Contributions to your field of research, stating/restating the significance of what you have discovered. Can include limitations.
  3. Future research: where to go from here (can include where NOT to go, if your research demonstrated that a particular approach or avenue was not useful).

What should NOT be in the conclusion?

  1. Discussion. This should be in the Discussion section. If your thesis combines the two, use sub-headings to distinguish between them.
  2. Any points that have not been mentioned in the Discussion section: your conclusions should be based only on points already raised.
  3. References: it is quite unusual to include references in this section, as it is mainly a review of what has already been said.
  4. Unnecessary information: your conclusion should be concise.

How long should my conclusion be?

The length of your conclusion will depend on a number of variables, including the School in which you are studying and the number of elements you are expected to include.

Some Schools ask for Conclusions to be combined with Discussion, while others will expect you to combine Conclusions with Future Directions. Check with your supervisor and with highly regarded past theses.

For a brief overview of the length and type of information in an Honours thesis Conclusion see examples of conclusions.

What am I trying to say in my conclusion?

What you are trying to say is:

  • What did I learn?
  • What am I proudest of?
  • What was the hardest part?
  • How did I solve the difficulty?

Or, in other words:

  1. To what extent you achieved your aims/objectives OR not: if not, why not?
  2. How important and significant your results are, as well as any limitations of your research (e.g. small sample size; other variables)
  3. Where the research should go from here: what are some interesting further areas to be explored based on what you have discovered or proven?

 Exercise: What goes where in a conclusion?