The way in which this type of assessment is organized will vary from institution to institution and course to course. Your supervisor and any handbooks that are produced are excellent sources of information and support and will help you understand how the dissertation process works. You are assumption is right; the dissertation word count include all footnotes, but not the bibliography. You need to use up your word limit to show the depth and thoroughness that your dissertation requires. You need to present your ideas and arguments clearly and succinctly.
If you’ve familiarized yourself with the details of your dissertation guidelines, checking them with your supervisor at each stage of your writing you’re sure of getting done everything you’ve been asked to do. Ignoring your dissertation guidelines and following you own sweet path is inevitably going to make a difference to your overall grade. The dissertation word count include the abstract and the main body of the text along with any of the following that you may also include:
Dissertation Wordcount What does dissertation word count include