The Submission and Examination of Theses

When you and your supervisor have agreed that you have completed your research and are in the final stages of writing up, you should notify the English Postgraduate Coordinator (Research) who will ask you to fill in an 'Intention to Submit' form for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This form anticipates the submission of three copies (MA [Res.], MPhil, and DArts) or four copies (PhD) of the completed, temporarily or permanently bound thesis, each accompanied by a 300 word abstract or summary. (The 'Intention to Submit' form is accompanied by some additional instructions about the format in which the thesis should be submitted and so is helpful in other ways.)

Format of the Thesis

The Faculty accepts theses that are permanently OR temporarily bound. Theses submitted in a temporary binding should be strong enough to withstand ordinary handling and postage. The preferred form of temporary binding is the 'perfect binding' system; springback, ringback or spiral binding is not acceptable. The Thesis Guide produced by SUPRA includes a list of local binders and copy shops who have considerable experience in producing theses. You are eligible to apply for funding from the Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS) to cover the costs of producing the final copies of your thesis.

In addition, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences requires the following of all theses:

  • printed on A4 paper
  • 1.5 or double spaced
  • consistent referencing

You have considerable latitude in all other aspects of the format and presentation of your thesis.

The Appointment of Examiners

The ‘Intention to Submit’ form will also alert your supervisor to the need to start the process of appointing examiners for the thesis. The responsibility for choosing and contacting potential examiners lies exclusively with the supervisor and should not be undertaken by the candidate, though it is expected that the candidate will be consulted. The process of appointment can in some cases take a considerable length of time, so to avoid delays you should make sure that your supervisor is fully aware of your likely submission date.

Thesis Submission: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to put in the 3 months ‘Intention to Submit’ form?
Answer: Yes, and in good time.

Where do I put the thesis abstract?
Answer: As with most things to do with the layout of the thesis, this is largely up to you and your supervisor, but the abstract is most often inserted loosely into the opening pages of the thesis or bound in immediately after the title page.

Where can I buy acid free paper?
Answer: SUPRA or the University Copy Centre. The final copy of the thesis to be deposited in Fisher Library when the degree has been awarded must be on acid free paper for archival purposes.

Thesis Examination

Examiners reports identify the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis, and list any emendations that should be made. They also state the examiner’s opinions as to the content of the thesis. Examiners may recommend one of the following:

  • Award without further emendation;
  • Award subject to correction of typographical errors;
  • Award subject to conditions listed in an examiner’s report being addressed to the satisfaction of the University;
  • Non-award but be permitted to revise and resubmit the thesis for re-examination following further study. An examiner makes this recommendation if errors and deficiencies are such that the arguments in the thesis are affected;
  • Non-award of the degree.

Once all examiners’ reports have been received, the recommendation and award process begins.

Recommendation and Award of Degrees

Once all of the reports have been received by the Faculty, they are forwarded to the Postgraduate Research Director for their recommendation and to the candidate's supervisor for their information. The PG Director writes a recommendation in consultation with the candidate’s supervisor. The candidate has a formal right of reply. The recommendation and any letter from the candidate go to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Committee who make a recommendation, and then to the University committee for their approval.

Style Guides

There is a bewildering number of academic styles, all of which are acceptable if used consistently. Students should consult their supervisor and agree on an appropriate style between the two of you.

The Documentary-Note or 'Humanities' style is described in:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993), ch.15: 'Documentation I: Notes and Bibliographies';

MHRA Style Book: Notes for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses, fifth edition (London: Humanities Research Association, 1996), ch. 12 'References' and passim;

Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, rev. John Grossman and Alice Bennett, 6th edition (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1996), chs 8, 9, and 11; and

Carole Slade, Form and Style: Research Papers, Reports, Theses (12th edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), ch.7.

The Author-Date or Name-Year or 'Harvard' style is described in:

The Chicago Manual of Style, ch.16: 'Documentation 2: Author-Date Citations and Reference Lists';

Scientific Style and Format, 6th edition (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994), ch.30;

Turabian, chs 10 and 11; and

Slade, ch.9.

The Works-Cited or 'MLA' style is described in:

Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition (New York: Modern Language Association, 1998), chs.6 and 7;

Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th edition (New York: Modern Language Association, 1999), chs.4 and 5; and

Slade, ch.8.

The Citation-Sequence or 'Vancouver' style is described in:

Scientific Style and Format, ch.30.

Other reference works that may be useful:

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, 2nd edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Thomas Mann, The Oxford Guide to Library Research (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).