1. What is a Thesis?
DRAFTING, SUBMITTING AND EXAMINING A THESIS
A thesis presents a student’s research results, describing the research with reference to relevant work in the field. It will include a description of the methods of research considered, and those actually employed, and present the student’s conclusions. It is essential that any use of another author’s work is properly acknowledged. The thesis is the student’s own work and must be written by the student.
It is essential that the research student discusses general layout and referencing conventions with their supervisors to ensure that subject or discipline-specific requirements or rules are followed right from the start. Supervisors are expected to provide constructive criticism and feedback on the thesis during candidature; however, supervisors should not be requested to provide English language training or undertake proof-reading.
In assessing a thesis, the examiners will bear in mind the standard and scope of work which it is reasonable to expect a capable and diligent research student to present after a period of time equivalent to the minimum candidature period for the degree being examined.
The University’s academic regulations for research master’s level degrees state:
The qualification shall be awarded to research students who:
1. Have demonstrated knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends and/or enhances abilities typically associated with Bachelor’s level, and that provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context;
2. Can apply their knowledge, understanding, and problem-solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study;
3. Have the ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, and formulate judgements on a body of information, and to reflect on social and ethical responsibilities linked to the application of their knowledge and judgements;
4. Can communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously;
5. Have the learning skills to allow them to continue to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous.
The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy shall be awarded to a research student who has:
- Presented a thesis containing the research student’s advanced study and research which satisfies the Board of Examiners as:
• making an original and significant contribution to knowledge;
• giving evidence of originality of mind and critical judgement in the conception and implementation of a research project in a particular subject;
• containing material worthy of peer-reviewed publication;
• being satisfactory in its literary and/or technical presentation and structure, with a full bibliography and references;
• demonstrating an understanding of the context of the research and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with the field.
- Passed a viva voce examination conducted by the examiners on the broader aspects of the field of research in addition to the subject of the thesis.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) research students
In the event any changes are made to research student research proposals, the University has a requirement to notify UKVI within 28 days of the changes, for those that require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. Information regarding which courses require an ATAS certificate can be found here. Please note that this applies to non-EEA students only. It is the responsibility of Swansea University supervisors to notify the University’s International Student Compliance Team (Academic Services), of changes to the research student’s original research proposal or the use of any new research technique. For more information, please read the ATAS and Change of Research Topic Policy and Procedure.
2. Maximum Word Limits for Doctor of Philosophy (External) Degree
The word limit is 100,000 for the main text. The word limit does not include appendices (if any), essential footnotes, introductory parts and statements or the bibliography and index.
3. Minimum Word Limits3. Minimum Word Limits
There are no set minimum word limits for the Doctor of Philosophy (External) Degree, however, the maximum word limit of the preceding traditional MPhil Degree may be taken as a guide.
Note: Ultimately, whether the thesis is too long or too short is a decision for the examiners. The word limit is therefore guidance rather than requirement. A supervisor may record reservations regarding the length of a research student’s thesis on the Research Management System. If a thesis is clearly above the indicated word limit, then the research student should discuss editorial action with their supervisors before submission.
Research students should be aware that examiners can decide that an overly-long thesis does not meet the degree’s standards, and research students will not be awarded the degree or lower award without proceeding to the viva stage. A research student can also be required to resubmit a thesis if there are serious grammatical or spelling errors, use of a spellchecker is very strongly recommended.
4. Practice-Based Research Degree Thesis
The practice-based research degree (either doctoral level or research master's level) is distinguished from the standard research degree in that a major element of the submission is an original creative work, which has been created by the research student specifically for the submission of the award. Apart from the inclusion of such materials, the practice-based thesis must conform to the same standards expected for a standard research degree thesis.
A request to submit a practice-based research degree thesis must be submitted to the Academic Regulations and Cases Board for approval prior to confirmation of candidature. The research student and the supervisor should produce a written request, counter-signed by the Executive Dean or nominee, explaining why the practice-based format is more appropriate for the research project and demonstrating how the project will take full advantage of the creative and/or practical element. The request should also clearly indicate the proposed balance of written and practical components to be submitted. The request must identify any issues about specific needs for supporting the research student due to the nature of the research etc., impact on skills training requirements, supervisory requirements etc. The supervisors should provide detailed information about how the practical component will be supervised.
The major element of the submission is an original creative work which has been created by the research student specifically for the submission. The practical element should be accompanied by a written commentary. The length of the written element should be determined by the nature of the research but should be no more than 40,000 words for doctoral level and 20,000 words for research master's level.
5. Bar on Access
Sometimes the results of research are commercially valuable or sensitive in other ways, for example in the use of material that is restricted by agreements or other contracts. To protect this confidentiality the University permits a bar on access to be placed on the thesis and this will mean that it will not be available to the general reader for up to five years (the period can be extended in special circumstances).
The University offers a tiered system for access to a thesis: Open Access, Embargoed (to later become Open Access), Redacted Content Open Access and Permanently Restricted. Authors should ensure that the selected access level of the thesis is appropriate and lawful. The bar on access application should be submitted to the Faculty/School for approval by the Executive Dean or nominee. Applications for a bar on access must state the title of the work, and the reasons for a bar on access. Applicants may request a formal restriction for the duration of a temporary embargo period (maximum duration five years), indicate the intention to release a redacted electronic version of the thesis, or request a permanent formal restriction of the electronic version.
Authors are required to provide the Library with a completed deposit agreement upon successful completion of the degree. The Library will respect any permanent bar on access or temporary embargo request specified in the deposit agreement.
Research students funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI - formerly Research Councils UK) only. It is expected that a full text version of the thesis should be available no longer than twelve months following award of the doctorate. UKRI recognise that commercial, collaborative or publication arrangements may necessitate a slight delay but expect the thesis to be deposited as soon as possible thereafter, unless a bar is in place.
6 - 6.3.15 Binding Conventions
As of 1 October 2021, the University requires all final version (completed) PGR theses to be submitted in electronic (e-thesis) format. Physical hardback copies are no longer required for Swansea University Library or the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, however temporary binding for examination purposes may still be needed (see below).
6.2 Temporary Binding
Temporary binding may be required for examination purposes, in addition to the e-thesis copy. It is recommended students check with their Faculty/School which thesis format is appropriate for the examination.
6.3 Permanent Hard-back Binding
The University no longer requires permanent hard-back copies of final theses to be submitted, rather all Postgraduate Research theses are to be submitted in electronic (e-thesis) format. However, sections 6.3.1 – 6.7 below have been retained as a guide for students wishing to produce their own hardback copies in the style historically used at Swansea University.
The colour of the cover is not specified by the University but is usually black, dark green or red.
The spine of the thesis (permanent binding only) must show:
• The research student’s surname and initials
• Swansea University
• The full or abbreviated title of the work
• The year of submission
• The degree for which the work is submitted.
If two volumes are needed Vol.1 and Vol.2 should be added, as appropriate, to the spine text.
Tugandlow, G. Swansea University 2018
Self-Criticism and Self-Determination [Vol. 1] PhD
Internal Layout of a Thesis
The layout of the thesis (whether temporary binding format, or e-thesis), will generally align to the pattern illustrated below. However, the research student must check with their supervisors to see whether there are any particular conventions applicable to the specific subject area:
Declarations and Statements
List of tables, illustrations, etc.
Definitions or Abbreviations
TEXT: Appropriately divided and with chapters and sections continuously paginated. (The layout of the text is an important aspect of the thesis design. The division of material can be by Parts, Chapters, Sections, etc., the supervisor’s advice is essential)
Appendices (Where these are substantial, a separate volume should be considered) (not relevant for e-thesis versions)
Theses may deviate from the above structure, subject to permission being sought from the Academic Regulations & Cases Board, no later than submission of the Notice of Intention to Submit form.
The title page must contain the following information:
• The approved title and any subtitle
• The total number of volumes if more than one, and the number of the particular volume (not relevant for e-thesis versions)
• The full name of the research student followed, if desired, by any qualifications and distinctions.
• The text “Submitted to Swansea University in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of” followed by the name of the research degree programme e.g. Doctor of Philosophy (External) etc)
• The text “Swansea University”
• The year of submission
A brief description of the work: its aims, methods and conclusions. Not more than three hundred words, using single line spacing.
Research students should bear in mind, when writing the summary, that this may be the only part of the thesis that is read by other research workers. It should be written in such a way as to help researchers in the same field decide whether to read the thesis. The summary should consist of a piece of connected prose and should not be more than 300 words in length. It may be much shorter. Abbreviations should be avoided.
Declarations and Statements
Information about the standard declarations and statements, which must be made when a research student submits their thesis, is provided with the Submission Pack issued to students who have notified of their intention to submit. In summary these comprise of:
- A declaration that the work has not previously been accepted in substance for any degree and is not being concurrently submitted in candidature for any degree.
- A statement that the thesis is the result of the research student’s own investigations, except where otherwise stated and that other sources are acknowledged by footnotes giving explicit references and that a bibliography is appended.
- A statement regarding metadata and an abstract. The metadata and abstract are automatically made available in the University repository to outside organisations. An e-thesis deposit agreement is required by the Library if accepted. Access levels to the full-text are managed according to the completed agreement.
- A statement that indicates that the University’s ethical procedures have been followed and, where appropriate, that ethical approval has been granted.
Details of the division of the thesis, with page numbers.
If the research student wishes to include a dedication or acknowledgement in the thesis this should be inserted on a page following the Contents Page.
List of Tables, Illustrations, etc.
Titles of all tables and illustrations in the thesis, with page numbers.
Definitions or Abbreviations
All abbreviations used in the thesis should be clearly defined.
The Main Text – appropriately divided into parts, chapters and sections.
The research student should seek the advice of their supervisors about the appropriate form of division to be used in the main text. The main text should be a self-supporting document in its own right, and not require the reader to refer to the appendices.
The appendices are not included in the word count of the thesis. The appendices allow the research student to further illuminate the main text and can act as a repository of raw data. It should be noted that examiners are not obliged to read the appendices when examining a thesis.
The glossary should comprise a list of specialised terms used in the thesis with which a reader is not expected to be familiar, each with its definition as understood in the text.
The bibliography should list all works referred to in the thesis and should also include works that have informed the thesis even if not directly referred to.
6.4 - 6.7 Thesis Conventions
Physical Appearance of the Thesis
Paper (If physical copies are required)
White, A4-size, with sufficient opacity to prevent any show-through.
The main text must be printed in black ink and may be printed on both sides of the page.
Font Character or Print Height
Print or character size should not be less than 8 point (2.50mm) but, normally, the text-size would be equivalent to 12pt Times New Roman.
Margins should be 4cm (1½ inches) wide on the left-hand side and at least 2cm (¾ inch) on the right-hand side, although 1 inch (2.5cm) on the right-hand side is preferable.
One-and-a-half line spacing should be used in the main text. However, single spacing should be used in the Summary and in any indented quotations and footnotes.
Pages in the thesis should be numbered sequentially.
Referencing and the Bibliography
The first requirement of a thesis submitted in candidature for a degree is that it presents the results of the research student's own work. Clearly, this demand does not exclude quotations or the representation of the views or results of other scholars in the field. Indeed, another expectation in any thesis is that the research student will relate their own work to that of other researchers.
It is important that in writing the thesis the research student must clearly and unambiguously distinguish between their own thoughts, conclusions and results and those of other scholars. The standard mechanism for ensuring that a plain distinction is made is by means of quotation marks, for direct quotations from the work of other scholars, and references to acknowledge direct and indirect use of the work of other scholars. References must be sufficiently precise to enable the reader to obtain and consider the original work. Paraphrasing without attribution is considered to be academic misconduct.
The aim of a reference is to enable the reader to locate and consult the work the research student has cited in the thesis.
References are used to indicate the works mentioned in the text but the bibliography, placed at the end of the thesis, will not only provide the necessary details of cited work but also other works that have been useful in the research student’s study, even if they are not explicitly cited in the text.
Building a thesis begins with surveying the relevant literature in the field of study and it is important to adopt, at the beginning, a useful method for recording the research student’s reading. Endnote software for managing bibliographic references is available on all open access PCs across campus, and training is offered by the Library.
It is very important that in the earliest stages of study the research student talks to their supervisors about which referencing system is most appropriate for the thesis. Incorrect referencing is often viewed by examiners as a failure to fully meet the necessary standards for a research degree. If the Faculty/ School does not recommend a particular convention, basic guidance on referencing styles is available on the Referencing Library Guide or from your Subject Librarian.
Any reference to a web-based source must include the web address (full path) and the date of last access.
The thesis may not include extensive unchanged material that has previously been submitted and approved for the award of a degree by this or any other university.
Inclusion of Publications.
A thesis may include papers authored by the research student that have been published in externally refereed contexts such as journals and conference proceedings.
Papers should relate directly to the research student’s study and must have been written during the candidature period.
Any publications must constitute an essential part of a coherent and integral body of work rather than a separate component.
To demonstrate their contribution, research students would normally be the first author on such papers. Where the research student has included publications in journals that specify the listing of authors in alphabetical order, this should be clearly stated. Research students must acknowledge co-authors and their specific contribution to the paper, by means of an authorship statement for each paper, to be included in the thesis. See example statement 6.7.6.
The number of papers which may be included is not prescribed, but they and the other contents of the thesis should reflect the amount, originality and level of work expected of a research student towards a conventional thesis.
That a thesis includes a paper that has been published is no guarantee that the examiners will recommend the award for which the research student is being examined. The examiners are required to assess the quality of the whole thesis against the criteria set out in section 1.0.
Research students are reminded of the need to adhere to the terms of their publishing agreement, with respect to copyright ownership. Research students should inform the editor of their intention to include the article as part of their thesis and obtain written consent. Research students should be aware, it may be necessary to redact publisher-owned material from the Open Access version of their thesis.
Where published papers are to be included as a thesis chapter, these must include an introduction and conclusion and be bound into the thesis at the appropriate point.
The following declaration must be included in the thesis to document the contributions of the authors to a publication. The research student must for each paper, list all authors and provide details of their role in the published work. Where possible, also provide a percentage estimate of the contribution made by each author.
The following people and institutions contributed to the publication of work undertaken as part of this thesis:
|Name and Faculty/School|
|Author 1||Name and Institution|
|Author 2||Name and Institution|
|Author 3||Name and Institution|
|Author 4||Name and Institution|
|Author 5||Name and Institution|
|Author 6||Name and Institution|
Author Details and their Roles:
Paper 1 (title)
Located in Chapter <insert chapter number>
Research student contributed <insert type and proportion of contribution>
Author < insert author number> contributed <insert type and proportion of contribution>
<Add additional paper numbers where required>
We the undersigned agree with the above stated “proportion of work undertaken” for each of the above published peer-reviewed manuscripts contributing to this thesis:
Signed Research student _______________________________________
7. Binding Conventions
7. Notice of Intention to Submit
At least three months before the research student expects to submit their thesis, they should indicate intended submission by forwarding a <Notice of Intention to Submit form> to your Faculty/School. This is to allow the research student’s Faculty/School to make the necessary arrangements for their examination in good time. The research students do not need to be over-exact in calculating their submission date (as long as this is before the absolute deadline). Before submitting their thesis, the research student should check carefully that it is the version that they wish to be examined, and that it contains no accidental errors or omissions. The research student should note that they may not retract their thesis once it has been submitted.
After the research student has notified their intention to submit the student will normally no longer be able to apply for an extension of candidature.
- The research student notifies of their intention to submit a thesis three months prior to the expected submission date;
- The supervisor records whether approval has been granted if the thesis is to be submitted prior to the research student’s minimum candidature date (see Guide to External Research Degree Candidature for details on early submission);
- The supervisor records whether a request for a bar on access will be or has been requested;
- The supervisor indicates whether the thesis will be submitted in Welsh and whether the oral examination will be in Welsh;
- The supervisor indicates whether the thesis will be submitted in a language other than English/Welsh (permission to do so should be obtained at the time of confirmation of candidature, see Guide to Progress Monitoring of External Research Students) and whether the oral examination will be in a language other than English/Welsh;
- If the supervisor has any comments/concerns about the research student’s intention to submit, these should be noted on the Notice of Intention to Submit form. If the research student is submitting prior to the minimum candidature date, the supervisor should include a specific comment on this;
- The Faculty/School alerts Academic Services of the pending submission;
- The Faculty/School begins the process of nominating the Examining Board (see Guide to Examination of External Research Students for guidance on nominating examiners).
7.3 Submission of the Thesis for Examination
After notifying of their intention to submit via the Notice of Intention to Submit form, the research student will be issued with a “Submission Pack”. The pack consists of:
• A cover letter;
• A checklist for the research student;
• Notes and guidance for research students;
• Suggested layouts for declarations and statements;
• A thesis summary sheet.
Once the research student has written their thesis, the supervisors should see the final draft copy for comment. The research student will then make the final revisions to the thesis.
All research students are required to incorporate into the thesis a summary of the thesis and the relevant declarations and statements (see Internal layout of a thesis above).
When a research student is ready to submit their thesis the required statements and declarations should be completed, and an electronic copy prepared for examination. It may also be necessary to provide a temporary bound physical copy of the thesis on the advice of the Faculty/School. The electronic copy will be stored securely by the research student’s home Faculty/School until such time it is no longer required.
Each Faculty/School has a designated member of staff who is responsible for formally accepting submission of theses. The research student should submit the electronic copy of the thesis together with a temporary bound hard copy (if required).
The submission is recorded on the Research Management System which will generate an email to the student noting confirmation of submission of the thesis.
The following procedures then occur:
a) The research student’s matriculation status and financial status will be checked. If the research student is in debt to the University, the examination of the thesis will not take place.
b) The research student will be asked to confirm the address to which they requires the formal notification to be sent, this will normally be the student’s “Home Address”.
Once the Examining Board's appointment has been confirmed by Academic Services, examination of the thesis can commence.
Note: examination/viva dates should not be arranged until the Examining Board has been approved. Submission of the thesis is final, and once made cannot be retracted.
7.4 Continued Access to Facilities After Submission
All research students will be granted access to the Library, and to IT facilities until the end of the examination process (as indicated in the formal notification from Academic Services).
7.5 Resubmission Arrangements
If a research student is required to resubmit their thesis (rather than make corrections and amendments), the re-submission arrangements are exactly as outlined above for the first submission. The Examining Board should be re-nominated, and examination of the resubmitted thesis cannot commence until the re-appointment of both examiners has been confirmed by Academic Services.
After the oral examination the research student will be formally informed by the University of the recommendation of the Examining Board. The research student will be provided with detailed feedback on the points which must be addressed in the resubmission through the Chair of the Examining Board. Normally, the same examiners will examine the resubmitted thesis to see whether the points raised in the reports from the first examination have been addressed. As a rule, the resubmitted thesis must be examined by a second oral examination. In very exceptional cases, the requirement for a second oral examination may be waived at the examiners’ discretion if a pass is agreed by them on resubmission. In this scenario, the Chair of the Examining Board will inform the research student that the requirement for a second oral examination has been waived (see the Guide to Examination of External Research Students).
The Chair of the Progression and Awards Board will be asked to ratify the Result and Report form once they have been received by Academic Services. Once the viva outcome has been ratified the student will be sent an email confirming the viva outcome and the date by which they are required to re-submit. After the research student’s record card has been updated, they will be able to access the University electronic facilities and the Library services until the new end of candidature date.
The research student must resubmit their thesis on or before the deadline as advised by the University and pay the resubmission fee on or prior to re-submission. This can be by card payment via MyUniHub. MyUniHub can be contacted to discuss other payment methods.
8. Submission of Final Thesis
After the research student has had the corrections and amendments required by the Examining Board approved by one or both of the examiners (as indicated on the Result Form), they are required to submit one electronic copy in Portable Document Format (pdf) to the Faculty/School before the degree can be awarded. As of 1st October 2021, there is no longer a requirement to submit a hardback copy of the final thesis to Swansea University Library or the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.