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Producing a Ph.D. Thesis. Patricia de Winter King’s College London. The majority of…. Arts/Humanities theses are written chapter by chapter throughout the PhD programme Scientific theses are written once the data have been collected at the end of the PhD programme.

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Producing a Ph.D. Thesis

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Producing a Ph.D. Thesis

Patricia de Winter

King’s College London

Producing a Ph.D thesis

The majority of…

  • Arts/Humanities theses are written chapter by chapter throughout the PhD programme

  • Scientific theses are written once the data have been collected at the end of the PhD programme

Producing a Ph.D thesis

At least four months before submission…

  • Obtain a PhD examination entry pack from BBK registry

  • Complete the following and return to the Registry:

    examination entry form (including approvedtitle)

    two address labels (home or parents’ address)

    description of thesis (300 words) - NOT abstract

  • Your supervisor must nominate two examiners, one internal and one external

Producing a Ph.D thesis

What happens next?

  • Registry forwards documents to Senate House

  • You should receive acknowledgement that Senate House has received your forms (but this doesn’t always happen) - go to Room 1.62 if necessary

  • Senate House examinations office sends the nomination of examiners and the description of thesis to the Subject Area Board for approval of examiners

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • Information on the PhD degree and thesis can be obtained in pdf format at:

  • Instructions and notes on submission and format of thesis

  • University of London Regulations for the degrees of Ph.D and M.Phil

Producing a Ph.D thesis

The University states that the Ph.D. thesis must…

  • …be the candidate’s own account of their research

  • …be original (discovery of new facts and/or demonstration of independent critical power)

  • …be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument (a series of papers is not acceptable but published papers may be adapted)

  • …give a critical assessment of the literature

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • …describe the method of research (reproducible)

  • …discuss results and demonstrate how they advance the subject

  • …be written in English

  • …include a full bibliography and references

  • …demonstrate relevant research skills

  • …be of publishable quality

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Word limit

  • 100,000 words except for certain subject areas where the limit is lower

  • See subject list in exam entry pack or check with your supervisor or research degrees co-ordinator for the limit for your subject

Producing a Ph.D thesis

The University does NOT stipulate…

…the font type or size to use

(best to use a serifed font for body text and a plain font for figures such as graphs)

…specific chapter or thesis formats

(but best to use scientific format for scientific theses)

Producing a Ph.D thesis

The University stipulates that:

…theses must be typed or printed on good quality A4 paper and on one side only

…line spacing should be double or one-and-half

…the binding edge margin must be at least 40 mm and other margins at least 20 mm

…photographs etc. must be permanently mounted and bound in with the theses

Producing a Ph.D thesis

…the use of sellotape or similar is prohibited

…errors must be corrected before submission

…all pages must be numbered, including any bound in material

…the thesis must include a title page, an abstract, a table of contents and a list of tables and figures

…collaborative work must acknowledged and certified by supervisor

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Hints on producing a thesis

  • It is advisable to have a general introduction as the first chapter (review the literature here) and a general discussion as the last (to pull together the conclusions from previous chapters)

  • Save each chapter as a separate file and back up all work (save to the BBK server if possible as this is backed up daily)

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • Figures and tables should preferably not be inserted into text - put them on individual pages

  • Save figures and tables as separate files and either print separately or insert into chapter only when you are about to print

  • Inserting figures into (borderless) text boxes anchors them on a page and makes positioning them easier (MS Word)

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • Use reference management software (e.g. Endnote, Reference Manager) to insert citations and create a bibliography/reference list BUT manually check all your references in the completed thesis (MS Word).

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Thesis Contents

  • Title page (numbered page 1)

    Officially approved thesis title

    Candidate’s full name

    Name of College or Institute

    Degree for which thesis is submitted and month/year of submission

    It is assumed that submission of the thesis implies it is entirely your own work and not plagiarised.

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Intracellular Signalling and Phagocytosis

by Haemocytes of Manduca sexta Larvae

Maria Patricia de Winter

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Birkbeck, University of London

Submitted for the degree of Doctor of

Philosophy of the University of London

November, 2004


Producing a Ph.D thesis

Abstract of Thesis

  • Follows the title page

  • 300 words maximum

  • Summarises context, methods, results and conclusions contained in the thesis

  • A duplicate Abstract must be submitted to Senate House with the thesis

  • Published in ASLIB Index of Theses

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • Optional, but most people include them and acknowledge those who supported and helped them throughout their Ph.D.

  • If included keep acknowledgements to one side of A4

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Table of Contents

  • Follows Abstract, or Acknowledgements where included

  • Must include all headings and subheadings and their page numbers

  • Does not include Figures or Tables

  • MS word can create a TOC for you if you merge all your chapters into one document or you can generate your own (make a two-column table without borders)

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • Each chapter must be numbered sequentially

  • Usually theses contain an Introduction, three or four research/experimental chapters and a general discussion

  • In Biology theses each experimental chapter contains its own specific intro, methods, results, discussion and conclusions

  • Give completed draft chapters to your supervisor for comments

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • Use a reference system that is recognised by your discipline.

  • Examiners are fond of checking for missing references so check reference list manually against references in the main text (this is really boring and takes hours)

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • Include extra material that does not need to be in the body of the thesis

  • Copies of publications that arose from the thesis can be placed here

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Production time

  • Allow at least a WEEK to assemble, check, print and correct last-minute errors that you have missed

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • Allow at least TWO days just to print and check your thesis - it really does take this long

  • Print a draft copy first and check for errors before printing final copies - get a friend or partner to proof-read the thesis to check for typos

  • Buy lots of extra print cartridges and good quality (90 gsm) paper in advance

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • For a 300 page thesis buy 4 reams of paper (to allow for printing errors). Search the internet for good deals - you should be able to get this for about £16 + P&P

  • If you have photos to print check out for glossy paper - 20 sheets cost about £4 + P&P

  • sell very cheap cartridges by mail order (from about£3 for a black inkjet cartridge

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • Print one chapter at a time - don’t try to merge the thesis into one document and print it as a whole

  • Check each thesis copy to ensure that all the pages are numbered sequentially

  • Senate House initially requires two copies, either two soft-bound or one soft and one hard-bound

  • Make an extra copy for yourself, which you should take with you to the viva

  • Don’t make any extra copies at this stage - there are bound to be corrections to make

  • If you submit two soft-bound copies, you will have to submit a hard-bound copy after the viva.

Producing a Ph.D thesis


  • The spine of the thesis should have the degree, your initials and surname and the year of the award in gold lettering

  • University of London theses are bound in medium blue cloth

  • Hard bound copies currently cost £25 each andsoft bound copies cost £16 each at The Printing Centre in Store Street (two day service)

Producing a Ph.D thesis

Submitting the Thesis

  • Take two copies of the thesis together with the completed Abstract of Thesis form to the PhD Examinations Office in Senate House

  • The title of the thesis must correspond EXACTLY to the title on the exam entry form previously submitted

Producing a Ph.D thesis

  • Although you should make every effort to correct mistakes prior to submission, you will inevitably find a few after you’ve submitted

  • You’ll even find them in the corrected version submitted after your viva - I still do!

Producing a Ph.D thesis

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