Postgraduate Research - Preparing Your Thesis For Submission

Before you start the thesis writing read the official advice at these links.
University Postgraduate Studies handbook

Faculty of Science
Thesis submission and examination information sheet
Intention to submit thesis - MSc/PhD


The following two forms are for your supervisors to complete
Statement of Supervisor on Submission of Doctoral Thesis
Appointment of Examiners


This is a guide written by one of the postgraduates who had just completed the process (with a few updates to reflect current procedures):

Step One

Get your thesis almost finished. Bear in mind that the end is always further away than you think it is. Nevertheless you should be able to provide a fair estimate of the remaining time when you are a few months away. Actually, you have to.

Step Two

Talk to your supervisor and agree on the likely submission date. Fill out a "Notice of Intention to Submit Thesis" form. This needs to be done at least 3 months before you intend to submit so that all the administrative cogs can turn. Basically, the faculty needs to send a reminder about the "appointment of examiners" form to your supervisor so the supervisor can contact all the examiners to make sure they are happy to mark it. It might be useful to have an abstract written by now so that your supervisor can flick a summary of your thesis to potential examiners. A copy of the "Notice of Intention to Submit Thesis" form needs to go to the Faculty (find the faculty postgrad. advisor). Faculty will expect the thesis on that date so if it is going to be any later for whatever reason, inform the school and the Faculty . There can be extra fees for international students so handing-in deadlines need to be taken seriously.

Step Three

You should also talk to your supervisor about potential examiners at this point. Your supervisor will ask you to suggest names but the final choice is up to them and remains confidential. Suggest people that are well respected in your field, are likely to have the time to mark it, and won't be unfairly critical. If you are trying to impress someone with the vague aim of eventually working with them, they might also be a good potential marker.

Step Four

Finish your thesis. By this stage you should be writing acknowledgements, prefaces, title pages, abstracts, a declaration page and (at the very end) contents. Look at a few theses for style and contents. It is easiest to use a set of word styles throughout the document; this ensures a consistent style throughout and makes building a table of contents very easy. A 3.5cm margin on the left and 2.5cm everywhere else will work nicely for binding. Remember that the most thumbed pages of most theses are the abstract and acknowledgements - don't rush them.

Step Five

Bind at least four copies of the thing. There is a good guide to nearby places that will do the binding from SUPRA - you will find it on the SOBS handing-in page. Prices are fairly uniform. The copy centre is the closest place however, and when you are lugging four copies of a large document around, proximity is important. If you want hard binding done it will take a minimum of three days, unless you are prepared to trek across town and pay a premium. Soft binding can be done relatively quickly at either the copy centre or Officeworks.

Step Six

Hand your thesis in (four copies thereof), at the faculty admin desk. Before doing this your supervisor needs to complete a 'Statement of Supervisor on Submission of Doctoral Thesis; form and have it signed by the Postgraduate Coordinator, stating that they feel the thesis is in a form suitable for publication (they may actually want to see it before handing over the letter).

At the Faculty of Science desk, you will be asked to fill in another form. You should be given a receipt of this form and also a "thesis production expenses claim form". This form allows you to claim back money you have spent getting the tome ready. Depending on your scholarship, between 600-800 dollars is allocated for this (but check recent information). You may as well claim as much of it as you can, if not for yourself then for your lab; paper, print cartridges, binding, proof-reading etc.

Bear in mind that the university has cut-off dates for semesters. If you want to hand in before the end of semester one, you need to hand in before the 31st of August. Similarly, Semester 2 finishes at some point (I think 31st of March, but don't quote me). Given the financial incentives for the School to have you out the door within 4 years (and preferably 3.5) it might be important to know this so that you don't get too badly harassed.

Step Seven

Breathe a sigh of relief and go get a beer. Thesis submission is usually anti-climactic so don't expect to feel like you have won the lottery. Also, it is common to feel a bit lost without the burden you have become attached to. Often, folks end up feeling a bit overwhelmed - no focus, no more study. Additionally, the time between handing in and receiving the award is a bit like purgatory for most. You aren't a student but you don't have your degree yet. It is important to remember that you should feel bloody proud to have finished something that most people don't ever start. Whatever happens next you have achieved a difficult thing and it will hold you in good stead. Remember to smile, and find a nice beach somewhere.

Step Eight

Deal with your markers. Something like 90% of theses come back passed with emendations. That is, you have done a good bit of work but there are a few (usually very minor) corrections to make. Markers may not feel they have done their job if they can't think of some objection. Expect that you will have to revisit the thesis again. But don't despair - you are almost there. Following your emendations you may have to do some more binding and get some more signatures but you will have your PhD. Congratulations!