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Thesis structure options

A thesis can be structured in a number of ways. The style you choose should be appropriate for your discipline.

Not all these structures are available to all students. The table below shows the structures available in Deakin’s faculties and institutes.

Faculty of Arts and Education and School of Architecture and Built Environment

All other Faculties and Institutes

Conventional thesis

Monolithic text like a book.



Thesis by publication

Series of papers, some, or all of which have been published by the time of examination.



Creative work plus exegesis

Visual arts, media arts, performing arts and creative and professional writing



Folio format

Substantial dissertation together with reports, papers, and publications in media appropriate for the professional context



Thesis formats

Your supervisor can guide you on which of the following formats best suits you:

You should discuss the length, composition, and format with your supervisor, but you are responsible for its production and for ensuring that it conforms to the specifications. You may find it helpful to look at other theses from your discipline held by the Deakin Library. If there are special reasons for a different format, these should be discussed with your supervisor at an early stage and approval must be obtained from the Research and Research Training Committee.

Examiners object when a thesis is too long. It is written for experts and should be as short as is consistent with the proper development of the subject for such readers.

The upper limits for theses, including the bibliography, appendices, and any notes, are:

  • 50 000 words for masters theses
  • 100 000 words for doctoral theses.

The final copy of your thesis must be free of errors – typographical and spelling errors are a source of irritation to examiners and suggest a lack of care and attention. Use the spelling checker but remember that this is no substitute for careful proof-reading of the text.

Bibliographic citation

Bibliographic references in the thesis must conform to the conventions of the academic discipline.

All sources of material in the thesis must be clearly and accurately cited. No style is prescribed for the citation of references, but a style which is appropriate to the material and, preferably, in common use in that discipline should be chosen in consultation with your principal supervisor. This style should then be followed consistently throughout the thesis. Students may include work they have published (generally during candidature) in their thesis. Where these publications include authors in addition to the student, the student must be explicit about their own contribution to the work.

Tables, diagrams, and figures should be inserted in the text as close to the first reference to them as is convenient, with suitable captions.

Examiners invariably comment unfavourably on an unsuitable or incomplete bibliographic style. Inappropriate use of et al in the text should be avoided; it should only be used in cases where there are more than two authors.

In general, the full titles of periodicals and other serials should be given. If they must be abbreviated, the abbreviations used should be those accepted as standard.

Important copyright information

Please ensure that you follow the advice provided on copyright matters, including the advice specific to research students. Students completing a thesis by publication are advised to consider specific advice on copyright issues .

You should also be aware that you will need to declare any substantial third-party copyright material used in your thesis. If you have included such material, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner before agreeing to online access. It is advisable to acquire this permission before you submit your thesis for examination.

Copyright and licensing

Copyright and licensing is an online resource designed to help research students understand and manage their rights and responsibilities as users and creators of information and learning resources. OPAL can help you:

  • understand options for providing open access to your research
  • manage your rights when you publish and share your research
  • make informed and responsible choices when using other people's copyright material
  • discover open research, data, and educational resources.

Copyright training and advice

Copyright compliance is important for staff and students not only for legal reason, but also academic integrity. The Deakin Copyright Team provides training and advice to the University Community to help you create the academic works you need with the compliance that is required.

In conjunction with Deakin Research, the Copyright Team has developed online modules, videos and resources  to help you understand your copyright responsibilities, and to recognise when you need to ask for assistance from the Copyright Team.

Visit Copyright for Research in CloudDeakin.

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