Library Subject Guides

Thesis Guide: Writing Your Thesis

Thesis writing guides

The library has a large collection of books on thesis writing
Sage Research Methods is an online database which also includes many resources about thesis writing as well as resources supporting research methods (quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods) across the social and behavioural sciences.



Formatting Your Thesis

Look at examples, and ask your supervisor

The best guide on how to format your thesis is a combination of:

  • Looking at previous theses in your discipline.  Search the UC Research Repository for your subject or department, and browse by issue date to get the most recent.
  • Asking your supervisor for recommendations on specific formatting and details. 

General recommendations to thesis format

Preliminaries to the thesis

The following preliminaries to the thesis should be presented in the order listed:

1. Title page with the following information

  • the full title of the thesis, and the subtitle if any
  • the full name of the author
  • the degree for which the thesis is submitted (e.g. Masters of Arts in History or Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy)
  • the department and name of the university (e.g. Dept of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury)
  • the year of submission

2. Table of Contents

3. Acknowledgements

Acknowledge any assistance received.

4. Abstract

This should be a succinct summary of the thesis. It should provide a synopsis of the thesis and state clearly the nature and scope of the work undertaken and of the contribution made to the knowledge of the subject treated. Include a brief statement of the method of investigation where appropriate, an outline of the major divisions or principal arguments of the work, and a summary of any conclusions reached.

5. Abbreviations/Glossary

The Format of the thesis should confirm to the following:

Page numbers

  • Number all pages except the title and contents page.

Font and size

  • Font size should at least 10 point.
  • Standard, easy-to-read, fonts are acceptable.
  • Theses written in scientific subjects may need specialized fonts or layout - check departmental requirements.

Illustrations and diagrams

  • Get permission for all illustrations and diagrams you are including that you did not create, and credit yourself for any images you did create..

Word examples

These examples are a starting point only as your department might have different requirements for the presentation of a thesis

Citing and Referencing