Social Sciences


PhD Thesis Presentation - Basic Guidelines

General Layout and Format of theses

There is no standard University or Departmental lay-out. Apart from some very basic rules and guidelines (below), how you decide to lay-out your thesis is largely up to you and your supervisor. Whatever style you adopt, however, the most important considerations are clarity and consistency. Remember, this is an examination - you want to convince your examiners of the soundness of your research and the quality of your analysis, not distract them with unnecessary stylistic flourishes.

  1. The thesis may be typewritten or word processed if a high quality printer is used.

    NB: double -spaced text on one side of the paper only at 12 point size is generally recommended.

  2. Candidates are advised to use Spicers plus fabric, international paper size A4 (210mm x 297mm) 70g/m2 weight for the 2 copies to be submitted for examination.

    NB: Any good quality white bond of at least the recommended weight and A4 size may be used.

  3. The binding margin should be at least 40mm with 20mm on all other sides.
  4. Photographs should be on single weight paper. The paper should preferably be the full size of the page allowing for standard margins around the photographs, but if this is impossible and it is necessary to mount small photographs on the page, a guard 25mm wide, of the same thickness as the photograph should be mounted on the left hand edge of the page. Mounting should always be done by using photographic mountants as some glues can stain prints whilst others lose their adhesive qualities with time.

    NB: It is increasingly the case that candidates scan photographs and incorporate them directly into their word processed text. Colour printing of photographs on special photographic paper can usually give very good results.

  5. There is no one rule for how you present chapter, section and sub-section headings. You may choose to use numbers, but you could just use different font styles (i.e. bold, italic, underline) to differentiate between each. What is important is that you decide on a style and stick with it consistently. While section headings help with sign posting and keeps the reader abreast of where your presentation is going, it is not recommended that you divide up your thesis beyond sub-section level.

Format of References and Footnotes.

  1. Department of Social Sciences in general uses the Harvard system of citation. See your research student handbook or check out the web where there are many very extensive sites that give details about the Harvard system of citation.

    NB. Even within the Harvard system of citation there are a number of different ways of doing it. Thus, for example, while most social science journals tend to follow the Harvard system, each has their own house style. The point is that while you have to work within the Harvard system, find a style you like and stick with it consistently.

  2. You may choose to use either Footnotes or Endnotes (either at the end of each chapter or the end of the thesis). Footnotes are easier for the reader to refer to, but can sometimes prove difficult in formatting and printing. Endnotes are easier to format, but make it more difficult for the reader who has to continually move between pages and/or sections of the thesis.

    If you are worried about any aspect of this a) speak to your supervisor, b) have a look at one or more PhD thesis (available in the department) or c) have a look at a reference book, e.g. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations (Heinemann, London, 1982).

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