Student Registry

 

Format of a Dissertation for your Degree Committee

Word Limits and Stylistic Conventions

Candidates should write as concisely as is possible, with clear and adequate exposition. Each Degree Committee has prescribed the limits of length and stylistic requirements as given below. On submission of the dissertation you must include a statement of length confirming that it does not exceed the word limit for your Degree Committee.

These limits and requirements are strictly observed by the Board of Graduate Studies and the Degree Committees and, unless approval to exceed the prescribed limit has been obtained beforehand (see: Extending the Word Limit below), a dissertation that exceeds the limit may not be examined until its length complies with the prescribed limit.


Extending the Word Limit

Dissertation word limits are set by degree committees. If candidates need to increase their word limits they will need to apply for permission.

Application forms are available from candidates' Self-Service pages.

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Requirements of the Degree Committees

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Archeology and Anthropology

Applicable to PhDs in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Social Anthropology for all submissions until 29 November 2013.

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words (or 350 pages) for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MSc or MLitt degree. These limits include all text, figures, tables and photographs, but exclude the bibliography, cited references and appendices. More detailed specifications should be obtained from the department concerned. Permission to exceed these limits will be granted only after a special application to the degree committee. The application must explain in detail the reasons why an extension is being sought and the nature of the additional material, and must be supported by a reasoned case from the supervisor containing a recommendation that a candidate should be allowed to exceed the word limit by a specified number of words. Such permission will be granted only under exceptional circumstances. If candidates need to apply for permission to exceed the word limit, they should do so in good time before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit the dissertation having regard to the dates of degree committee meetings. For this reason candidates are advised to present the typed manuscript of the dissertation to the Academic Secretary of the Department for preliminary checking prior to binding.

Applicable to PhDs in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Social Anthropology for all submissions from 30 November 2013.

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words (approx. 350 pages) for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MSc or MLitt degree. These limits include all text, figures, tables and photographs, but exclude the bibliography, cited references and appendices. More detailed specifications should be obtained from the Division concerned. Permission to exceed these limits will be granted only after a special application to the Degree Committee. The application must explain in detail the reasons why an extension is being sought and the nature of the additional material, and must be supported by a reasoned case from the supervisor containing a recommendation that a candidate should be allowed to exceed the word limit by a specified number of words. Such permission will be granted only under exceptional circumstances. If candidates need to apply for permission to exceed the word limit, they should do so in good time before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit the dissertation, by application made to the Graduate Committee.

Architecture and History of Art

Architecture:

History of Art:

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree. To include: footnotes, table of contents and list of illustrations, but excluding acknowledgements and the bibliography. Appendices (of no determined word length) may be permitted subject to the approval of the candidate's Supervisor (in consultation with the Degree Committee); for example, where a catalogue of works is germane to the work. Permission to include such appendices must be requested from the candidate's Supervisor well in advance of the submission of the final thesis. NB: Permission for extensions to the word limit for most other purposes is likely to be refused.

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Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

The thesis is for the PhD degree not to exceed 80,000 words exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography. For the MLitt degree not to exceed 60,000 words inclusive of footnotes but exclusive of bibliography and appendices.

Biology

The thesis is not to exceed 60,000 words (80,000 by special permission) excluding bibliography, figures, appendices etc. Double-spaced or one-and-a-half spaced. Single or double-sided printing.

Business and Management

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words, EXCLUDING bibliography, but including tables, footnotes, and appendices. Each page of statistical tables, charts or diagrams shall be regarded as equivalent to a page of text of the same size. The Degree Committee do not consider applications to extend this word limit.

Classics

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words including footnotes, references, and appendices but excluding bibliography; a page of statistics shall be regarded as the equivalent of 150 words. Only under exceptional circumstances will permission be granted to exceed this limit. Candidates must submit with the thesis a signed statement giving the length of the thesis.

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Clinical Medicine and Clinical Veterinary Medicine

For the PhD degree, not to exceed 60,000 words (or 80,000 by special permission of the Degree Committee), and for the MSc degree, not to exceed 40,000 words. These limits exclude figures, photographs, tables, appendices and bibliography. Lines to be double or one-and-a-half spaced; pages to be double or single sided.

Computer Laboratory

The thesis is not to exceed, without the prior permission of the degree committee, 60,000 words including tables and footnotes, but excluding appendices, bibliography, photographs and diagrams. Any thesis which without prior permission of the degree committee exceeds the permitted limit will be referred back to the candidate before being forwarded to the examiners.

Divinity

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and the MLitt degree, including footnotes, references and appendices but excluding bibliography. Only under exceptional circumstances will permission be granted to exceed this limit. Candidates must submit with the thesis a signed statement giving the length of the thesis. If, under exceptional circumstances, candidates wish to apply for permission to exceed this limit, they should do so at least three months before the anticipated submission date. Permission may be granted for the inclusion of an appendix of a substantial quantity of text which is necessary for the understanding of the thesis. Permission may also be given if a candidate's application is supported by a letter from the supervisor certifying that such exemption from the prescribed limit of length is absolutely necessary in the interests of the total presentation of the subject.

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Earth Sciences and Geography

Department of Geography:

The thesis is not to exceed, without the prior permission of the degree committee, 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MSc or MLitt degree, both excluding appendices and the bibliography. Footnotes for both will not be included in the word limit where they are a necessary part of the referencing system used.

Department of Earth Sciences:

The thesis is not to exceed, without the prior permission of the degree committee, 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MSc or MLitt degree, both excluding appendices and the bibliography. Footnotes for both will not be included in the word limit where they are a necessary part of the referencing system used.

Scott Polar Institute

If a candidate's work falls within the social sciences, candidates are expected to observe the limit described in the Department of Geography above; if, however, a candidate's work falls within the natural sciences, a candidate should observe the limit described in the Department of Earth Sciences.

Applications for the limit of length of the thesis to be exceeded must be early — certainly no later than the time when the application for the appointment of examiners and the approval of the title of the thesis is made. Any thesis which, without the prior permission of the degree committee, exceeds the permitted limit of length will be referred back to the candidate before being forwarded to the examiners.

Economics

The thesis is not to exceed, without the prior permission of the degree committee, 60,000 words including tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices. The degree committee points out that some of the best thesis extend to only half this length. Each page of statistical tables, charts or diagrams shall be regarded as equivalent to a page of text of the same size.

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Education

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD Degree and 60,000 words for the MSc and MLitt degrees, in all cases excluding appendices, footnotes, reference list or bibliography. Only in the most exceptional circumstances will permission be given to exceed the stated limits. In such cases, you must make an application to the degree committee as early as possible -and no later than three months before it is proposed to submit the thesis, having regard to the dates of the degree committee meetings. Your application should (a) explain in detail the reasons why you are seeking the extension and (b) be accompanied by a full supporting statement from your supervisor showing that the extension is absolutely necessary in the interests of the total presentation of the subject.

Engineering

For the PhD degree, not to exceed, without prior permission of the degree committee, 65,000 words, including appendices, bibliography, footnotes, tables and equations not to contain more than 150 figures. A candidate must submit with their thesis a statement signed by the candidate themself giving the length of the thesis and the number of figures. Any thesis which, without the prior permission of the degree committee, exceeds the permitted limit will be referred back to the candidate before being forwarded to the examiners.

English

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree, both including all notes and appendices but excluding the bibliography. A candidate must add to the preface of the thesis the following signed statement: 'The thesis does not exceed the regulation length, including footnotes, references and appendices but excluding the bibliography.'

In exceptional cases (when, for example, a candidate's thesis largely consists of an edition of a text) the degree committee may grant permission to exceed these limits but in such instances (a) a candidate must apply to exceed the length at least three months before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit their thesis and (b) the application must be supported by a letter from a candidate's supervisor certifying that such exemption from the prescribed limit of length is absolutely necessary.

It is a requirement of the degree committee for the Faculty of English that thesis must conform to either the MHRA Style Book or the MLA Handbook for the Writers of Research papers, available from major bookshops. There is one proviso, however, to the use of these manuals: the Faculty does not normally recommend that students use the author/date form of citation and recommends that footnotes rather than endnotes be used. Bibliographies and references in thesis presented by candidates in ASNaC should conform with either of the above or to the practice specified in Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England.

Thesis presented by candidates in the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics must follow as closely as possible the printed style of the journal Applied Linguistics and referencing and spelling conventions should be consistent.

A signed declaration of the style-sheet used (and the edition, if relevant) must be made in the preliminary pages of the thesis.

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History

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree in each case including appendices but excluding footnotes, references and bibliography. Statistical tables should be counted as 150 words per page of tables. Only under exceptional circumstances will permission be granted to exceed this limit. A candidate must submit with the thesis a signed statement signed giving the length of their thesis. Any thesis which exceeds the limit will be referred back to a candidate for revision before being forwarded to the examiners. An exception is made of thesiss based in part on oral evidence. If a candidate has prior consent of the degree committee, such a thesis may include in it a methodological essay, not more than 10,000 words in length, discussing the oral evidence, without this counting towards the normal word limit. With the prior approval of the degree committee, a candidate may also submit typed transcripts of oral evidence, totalling not more than 80,000 words in length, to be bound and deposited with the thesis in the University Library. Each transcript should state whether it is verbatim, précis, or edited.

History and Philosophy of Science

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree, in all cases including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography. Permission to submit a thesis falling outside these limits, or to submit an appendix which does not count towards the word limit, must be obtained in advance from the degree committee.

Human, Social and Political Science

Applicable to the PhDs in Politics & International Studies, Latin American Studies, and Development Studies for all submissions (note that this will be due for revision later in 2013)

A PhD dissertation must not exceed 80,000 words, and will normally be near that length. The word limit includes appendices but excludes footnotes, references and bibliography. Footnotes should not exceed 20% of the dissertation. Discursive footnotes are generally discouraged, and under no circumstances should footnotes be used to include material that would normally be in the main text, and thus to circumvent the word limits. Statistical tables should be counted as 150 words per table. Only under exceptional circumstances, and after prior application, will the degree committee allow a student to exceed these limits. A candidate must submit, with the dissertation, a statement signed by her or himself attesting to the length of the dissertation. Any dissertation that exceeds the limit will be referred back to candidate for revision before being forwarded to the examiners.

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Land Economy

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MSc or MLitt degree, both including footnotes, references and appendices but excluding bibliographies. One A4 page consisting largely of statistics, symbols or figures shall be regarded as the equivalent of 250 words. A candidate must add to the preface of their thesis the following signed statement: 'This thesis does not exceed the regulation length, including footnotes, references and appendices.'

Law

For the PhD degree not to exceed 80,000 words exclusive of footnotes, appendices and bibliography but subject to an overall word limit of 100,000 words exclusive of bibliography, table of contents and any other preliminary matter. For the MLitt degree not to exceed 60,000 words inclusive of footnotes but exclusive of bibliography, appendices, table of contents and any other preliminary matter.

A candidate must add to the preface of the thesis the following signed statement: 'This thesis, including footnotes, does not exceed the permitted length.'

Mathematics

There is no standard format for the dissertation in Mathematics providing this falls within the general guidelines of the Student Registry: candidates should discuss the format appropriate to their topic with their supervisor.

Modern and Medieval Languages

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree, including footnotes, references and appendices, but excluding bibliographies. The degree committee point out that some very successful doctoral dissertations have been submitted which extend to no more than three-quarters of the maximum permitted length. Where appropriate and where prior approval has been granted by the Degree Committee, it is permitted to exceed the limit in the case of dissertations presented in the form of critical editions of texts and dissertations requiring large amounts of linguistic data. Only under the most exceptional circumstances will permission be granted to exceed the limit in other cases. In all cases (a) a candidate must give notice of their application to exceed the prescribed maximum length at least three months before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit their dissertation and (b) the application must be accompanied by a full supporting statement from the candidate's supervisor showing that such exemption from the prescribed limit of length is absolutely necessary. It is a requirement of the degree committee for the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages that dissertations presented must conform with the advice concerning abbreviations, quotations, footnotes, references, and other matters published in the 'Style Book of the Modern Humanities Research Association (Notes for Authors and Editors).'

Music

The thesis is not to exceed 80,000 words for the PhD degree and 60,000 words for the MLitt degree, both excluding notes, appendices, and bibliographies, musical transcriptions and examples, unless a candidate make a special case for greater length to the satisfaction of the degree committee. Candidates whose work is practice-based may include as part of the doctoral submission either a portfolio of substantial musical compositions, or one or more recordings of their own musical performance(s).

Philosophy

The thesis must be not less than 50,000 and not more than 80,000 words for the PhD degree, and not less than 30,000 and not more than 60,000 words for the MLitt degree, in all cases including appendices and notes of reference. Permission to submit a thesis falling outside these limits must be obtained in advance from the degree committee (but is unlikely to be granted).

Physics and Chemistry

The thesis is not to exceed, without prior permission of the degree committee, 60,000 words, including tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices, but excluding photographs and diagrams.

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Psychology

Only applicable to students registered for the degree prior to 1 August 2012; all other students should consult the guidance of the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

Applicable to the PhD in Psychology (former SDP students only) for all submissions made before 30 November 2013

A PhD dissertation must not exceed 80,000 words, and will normally be near that length. The word limit includes appendices but excludes footnotes, references and bibliography. Footnotes should not exceed 20% of the dissertation. Discursive footnotes are generally discouraged, and under no circumstances should footnotes be used to include material that would normally be in the main text, and thus to circumvent the word limits. Statistical tables should be counted as 150 words per table. Only under exceptional circumstances, and after prior application, will the degree committee allow a student to exceed these limits. A candidate must submit, with the dissertation, a statement signed by her or himself attesting to the length of the dissertation. Any dissertation that exceeds the limit will be referred back to candidate for revision before being forwarded to the examiners.

Applicable to the PhD in Psychology (former SDP students only) for all submissions from 30 November 2013

A PhD dissertation must not exceed 80,000 words, and will normally be near that length. The word limit includes appendices but excludes footnotes, references and bibliography. Footnotes should not exceed 20% of the dissertation. Discursive footnotes are generally discouraged, and under no circumstances should footnotes be used to include material that would normally be in the main text, and thus to circumvent the word limits. Statistical tables should be counted as 150 words per table. Only under exceptional circumstances, and after prior application, will the Degree Committee allow a student to exceed these limits. Applications should be made in good time before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit the dissertation, made to the Graduate Committee. A candidate must submit, with the dissertation, a statement signed by her or himself attesting to the length of the dissertation. Any dissertation that exceeds the limit will be referred back to candidate for revision before being forwarded to the examiners.

Sociology

Applicable to the PhD in Sociology for all submissions from 30 November 2013

A PhD dissertation must not exceed 80,000 words, and will normally be near that length. The word limit includes appendices but excludes footnotes, references and bibliography. Footnotes should not exceed 20% of the dissertation. Discursive footnotes are generally discouraged, and under no circumstances should footnotes be used to include material that would normally be in the main text, and thus to circumvent the word limits. Statistical tables should be counted as 150 words per table. Only under exceptional circumstances, and after prior application, will the Degree Committee allow a student to exceed these limits. Applications should be made in good time before the date on which a candidate proposes to submit the dissertation, made to the Graduate Committee. A candidate must submit, with the dissertation, a statement signed by her or himself attesting to the length of the dissertation. Any dissertation that exceeds the limit will be referred back to candidate for revision before being forwarded to the examiners.

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