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Writing your Dissertation

Master dissertation is the capstone experience of your journey to the Master of Science degree at CATÓLICA-LISBON. As an advanced research project, it makes a significant contribution to the creation of knowledge and distinguishes you among other professionals. 

On this page, you will find useful tools and information for your research, as well as resources, and dissertation layout, length, and references.


Time Management

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  • It is recommended that you work on your dissertation full-time for 3 to 4 months.
  • During this period you will be working with CTO (Career and Talent Office) to define your final placement.
  • Although some students need to take MSc courses during the dissertation semester in order to complete their study plan, you should try to minimize the courses taken and make sure it is no more than two courses per trimester (or two semester-long courses).
  • The internship should have an average weekly workload of 20-25 hours (with a maximum of 30 hours).
  • Please take into account that you need to dedicate at least 20 hours per week to your dissertation to complete it within a reasonable time frame.
  • We do not recommend that you do an internship during your dissertation semester.

Past experiences with internships that were really full-time jobs have created severe problems concerning the ability to successfully complete the MSc program.

Students are expected to complete their dissertation in approximately four months (1st submission deadline), by paying a fee (info here) the students have the possibility of extending to the 2nd submission deadline, which is approximately three months.

After the 2nd submission deadline students are required to obtain permission from their advisor to continue working on the same topic/dissertation.

Students have up to two years, counting from the beginning of the dissertation semester, to complete and submit their dissertation. After these two years have ended, students must find a new topic and advisor.


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The Research Methodologies Workshop (RMW) helps students produce quality research during their Dissertation Semester. 

The RMW is a mandatory requirement of the study plan and workshop attendance is obligatory.

All students who enroll for the first time in their thesis semester (independent process or dissertation seminar) will be enrolled in the RMW by the Master Affairs team (the NEW procedure will be applicable from the 2nd semester 2021/2022 onwards). 

If a student does not complete the RMW, the student is responsible for re-enrolling in the RMW on the course enrollment day or course changing period of the following semester (January or July, info HERE).

2nd Semester - RMW Schedule

 February 2022 From TBD to TBD pm
(Lisbon Time)
Group A
   June 2022        From TBD to TBD pm
(Lisbon Time)
Group A

A Master's dissertation must demonstrate that the student has not just acquired significant knowledge but is also able to apply it to address a theoretical or applied problem.

The dissertation should relate to the content of one or more courses of the Master's program. It is expected to review relevant literature, have a central integrating argument, and include an original contribution.

A good dissertation poses an interesting, focused question, and answers it through argumentation using strong foundations in areas of management, finance, and economics and the use of primary and secondary research.

Most students pose a question on a theoretical or empirical issue, and develop their dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member (or under the co-supervision of a faculty member with a non-faculty member), usually through a dissertation seminar but sometimes individually.

At CATÓLICA-LISBON Masters, there are several types of dissertation, based on the intended impact and the primary audience of the research. More information can be found in the online document HERE.

Recommended Resources

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White, B., & Rayner, S. (2014). Dissertation Skills: For Business and Management Students (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning EMEA.

Some of these databases can only be accessed if you are on the UCP campus or if you are using the UCP proxy (instructions here).

You can consult all of the MSc dissertations written at CATÓLICA-LISBON on the UCP Institutional Repository.

You can also browse by advisor here, searching for the professor’s last name.

Please note that some dissertations will have restricted or embargoed access. This information can be consulted in the UCP Institutional Repository in the “Access type" column.

CATÓLICA-LISBON has a webpage intituled  “Digital Resources at CATÓLICA-LISBON”, dedicated to the available resources, link here. Some of the content includes:

  • Qualtrics - Create an account – instructions here. Access Code – SRVBAYLLCUAINFZYTT.
  • Citrix - here
  • E-sca
  • Research Data Services


If you are working remotely make sure you install the VPN connection. This content can be found, on our webpage “IT Resources at CATÓLICA-LISBON”, here.

SPSS & Stata

Please download and install SPSS by using one of the following links:

Open "IBM SPSS Statistics 2x License Authorization Wizard" and follow these steps:

  • Select "Next" at the first window that appears.
  • Copy "Lock Code for this machine" and send it to us by email.
  • Mark the option "Authorized user license" and select "next”.
  • Wait for the registration code that we will provide you and type it in the field "enter code”.
  • Select next e confirm that the registration was successful.

 After finishing the installation, please send an email to (use your UCP email, otherwise no response will be provided)  with the "Lock Code for this machine" so that they can generate the individual key and provide you the registration code, 

If after following the instructions, you are still unable to have access to SPSS please contact our IT support department at the email: (use your UCP email) or by telephone: (00351) 217 214 000).

You can also use SPSS and Stata via CITRIX – instructions here.

Layout and Format

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The following layout rules must be observed by all students:

  • The font should be Times New Roman 12-point.
  • The cover page must follow this template. For Double Degree students the cover page template can be found HERE.
  • The Abstract page must contain an English and Portuguese version, with the title, the author, keywords, and a summary of the objectives, findings/arguments, and conclusions of the dissertation.
  • Spacing should be: for the main text 1.5 with margins of 25mm, and for the abstract 1.5 with margins of 25mm.
  • Quotations of less than a sentence should be integrated into the text. Lengthier quotations should be indented and single-spaced.

Typically, a dissertation contains the following structure:

a) Titlepage / cover page must follow the template (above mentioned). You are allowed to change the font and color but must not include any additional images or logos.

b) Abstract page contains the title, the author, and a summary of the objectives, findings/arguments, and conclusions of the dissertation. Spacing is 1.5 and the maximum length is 250 words (each). You should have two versions of the Abstract, in English and Portuguese.

c) Contents Page the headings of all contents along with page numbers.

d) Preface (optional) acknowledges individuals and organizations that have contributed directly or indirectly to the dissertation.

e) Main (Body) Text of the Dissertation normally includes the following parts:

  • Introduction/explanation of research or project objectives
  • Explanation of the significance of topic or project
  • Review of relevant literature
  • Statement of research/project methodology, and
  • limitations/constraints
  • Full development of findings/arguments/reasoned analysis
  • Conclusions and limitations of the dissertation (Note that a dissertation that develops a case study for teaching purposes would normally also include a teaching note, which might contain some of the literature review, arguments, and reasoning, etc.)

f) Appendices are used to provide additional and detailed information about data, methodology, or analysis that would break the flow of the presentation in the main text (max. 30 pages).

g) Bibliography or References or Works Cited section of the dissertation (depending on the references style used, see below) includes all works referenced within the text.

A CATÓLICA-LISBON Master's dissertation should have 8,000 to 13,000 words. Double Degree students may have different length requirements, accessible HERE

Footnotes, tables, graphs, and figures, along with their captions, are included in the word count.

Elements of the dissertation that are not included in the word count:

  • Cover page
  • Abstract
  • Executive summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents list
  • List of figures
  • Reference list/Bibliography
  • List of abbreviations
  • Glossary
  • Appendices

You are free to adopt any of the major conventions commonly used for references, such as the MLA system or the Chicago system, so long as you exactly and consistently follow the rules of that system.

The body of the Abstract, which must be in both Portuguese and English, cannot exceed 250 words each and the Appendices cannot exceed 30 pages.

The length of the dissertation will be checked upon delivery, and CATÓLICA-LISBON dissertations that exceed the length guidelines will not be accepted.