Thesis guidelines

View Victoria’s thesis guidelines.

Essential ingredients of a PhD Thesis

There are general requirements that apply to all theses (though their precise interpretation varies from discipline to discipline, and the way you structure the intellectual content of your thesis is a matter for discussion between you and your supervisors).

Your thesis must:

  • form an integrated and coherent whole
  • make a significant and original contribution to knowledge or understanding
  • be based on research conducted under supervision while registered as a PhD candidate at Victoria.


In many disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, you will be required to have a 'thesis': a particular position which you defend by sustained argument. Your thesis must be more than a straight-forward report.

In other disciplines, the coherence of your thesis will stem from an integrated research design or your attempts to test a theory or hypothesis.

In some cases, your thesis may be made up of a series of more or less independent research papers. Your thesis must, however, explain the relationship of these papers to one another.


According to discipline, your original contribution to knowledge may include critical, experimental, theoretical or creative components.


Nearly all candidates find that the actual writing of a thesis takes much longer than expected. The preparation of a first draft may seem the most difficult part of the work, but its transformation into the final version for submission can also be a slow process.

To make things easier for yourself, write your ideas up as you go and let your supervisor read them. The more material you have in draft form, the easier the final write-up task will be. You will also develop a style that is appropriate for a PhD.

Remember that your supervisors are there to advise you on the writing of your thesis.


View upcoming FGR writing workshops.

Format requirements

Download the document below for information on the format requirements for research theses.


Make sure you back up your work in more than one place.

Including publications in a PhD thesis

Victoria does not offer a “PhD by Publication”, but it is possible to include published work in your PhD thesis, subject to certain conditions. Please read the following guidelines.

Authorship and acknowledgement guidelines

Your thesis must:

  • be your own work
  • have been prepared specifically for the PhD degree while under supervision at Victoria
  • not duplicate work from a thesis, dissertation or research paper that you have previously presented for another degree or diploma at this or any other university
  • clearly reference and acknowledge the ideas and work of others, whether published or unpublished (plagiarism is prohibited)
  • clearly acknowledge all assistance you have received in your research.

All candidates will be asked to sign a statement that the above conditions have been satisfied when the thesis is submitted.

Supervisors may provide advice about methodology, analysis and other academic matters, but not to an extent that it is unreasonable for you, the candidate, to claim sole authorship of the thesis. External examiners must be in no doubt that the work they are assessing is your own.

Read our guide on academic integrity.

Thesis length

The thesis should not exceed a total of 100,000 words in length, including scholarly apparatus such as footnotes or endnotes, essential appendices and bibliography.

When you submit, you will be asked to certify that the thesis falls within the word limit.

In exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Graduate Research may grant permission for you to submit a longer thesis. Permission should be sought well in advance of submission.

Note, however, that a PhD thesis should be concise. Examiners often criticise excessive length, which frequently indicates poor judgement.

Presentation, editing and proofreading guidelines


Your thesis should:

  • be in a standard 12-point font
  • have one-and-a-half line spacing
  • have margins of at least 2cm and no more than 4cm on the binding edge
  • have numbered pages.


Your thesis should contain the following:

  • title page which complies with the sample below
  • abstract of approximately 500 words
  • preface (not always necessary)
  • acknowledgements
  • table of contents
  • list of illustrations (if applicable)
  • chapters
  • appendices (if applicable)
  • references and/or bibliography (in a style appropriate to your discipline).

Editorial matters

The presentation of your thesis is important. Typos and inconsistent presentation do not necessarily detract from the academic content of your thesis, but quality presentation is part of being professional. Errors can give the impression that you do not care about details.

Try to make your thesis look good. You should:

  • make consistent use of italics, e.g. in names of biological species or in titles
  • make consistent use of fonts for the body text and for headings
  • use a consistent format for references to works you cite
  • use a consistent format for publications in your bibliography/reference list
  • not have too many spaces between words
  • not have any spelling mistakes.

Check for typos and inconsistencies before you submit.

Getting someone else to proofread your thesis

The University has guidelines about the input other people can have into your thesis. If you give your thesis to friends, colleagues or professionals for proof-reading and other advice, you must also give them a copy of the documents below.

Read about submitting your thesis for examination.

Change of title

If you wish to change the title of your thesis at any time, you should discuss this with your supervisors. Your supervisors must inform the Associate Dean (PGR) of your home faculty of any change.

Public availability of your Thesis and intellectual property

Make sure you are aware of the issues surrounding the public availability of your thesis and intellectual property.

Please read our guide to thesis availability and IP.