Academic Manual

Requirements of a Research Thesis


2.3 Requirements of a Research Thesis

2.3.1 Theses: General

The greater proportion of the work submitted in a thesis must have been undertaken after the registration of the student for the professional doctorate.
The work in the thesis submitted by students must be their own work and the submission of a thesis for examination will be regarded as a declaration of that fact.
Students will not be permitted to submit a thesis that has been submitted for examination for a degree, or comparable award, of this or any other university or institution.
Students may submit the results of work done in conjunction with their supervisor and/or with fellow research workers provided that their own contribution in the investigation is clearly stated and a statement of confirmation is certified by the supervisor.

Students should include in the thesis submission form a signed declaration that the work presented is their own. This may be inserted between the title page and the contents page of the thesis in the following terms:

‘I, [student’s full name], confirm that the work presented in this thesis is my own. Where information has been derived from other sources, I confirm that this has been indicated in the thesis.’

2.3.2 Requirements of the Research Thesis

A thesis for the award of a professional doctorate shall be examined in accordance with the criteria prescribed by UCL and the thesis shall demonstrate that it:
is genuinely the work of the student;
shows a student's capacity to pursue original research in the field of study based on a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline;
embodies the results of research which may reasonably be expected of a student after the period under research supervision, formulated and carried out by the student in consultation with the supervisors;
consists of a student's own account of their investigations, the greater proportion of which shall have been undertaken during the period under research supervision for the degree;
represents a distinct and significant contribution to the subject, whether through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory, or the revision of older views;
shows the exercise of critical judgment with regard to both a student's own work and that of other scholars in the field;
includes a critical assessment of relevant literature, including a description of the method of research and its findings, discussion of those findings and indicates in what respects they appear to the student to advance the study of the subject and, in so doing, demonstrates a deep and synoptic understanding of a field of study, objectivity and the capacity for judgment in complex situations and autonomous work in that field;
is satisfactory in its literary and/or technical presentation and structure with a full bibliography and references;
the report of research takes due account of previously published work on the subject
makes clear the sources from which information has been derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the areas which are claimed as original;
contains an element which might, after any necessary revision, merit publication in a medium appropriate to the discipline (for example as a monograph or as a number of articles in learned journals);
shows a student’s ability to design and implement an independent research project.
  Further guidance
Supervision of the research component of a professional doctorate normally starts after students have undertaken other elements of the programme, and hence the period of registration is usually longer than the period during which the student is under research supervision. Students and staff should consult individual programme regulations for details of the period of research supervision.

  2.3.3 Language of a Thesis

All these must be written in English and the oral examination must be conducted in English.

  2.3.4 Word Length of a Thesis

The maximum word length of professional doctorate theses is 100,000 words, including all component parts, footnotes, tables and figures but excluding bibliography, appendices and supporting data.
The above prescribes the maximum allowable length for the thesis, not necessarily the preferred length. Individual programmes may recommend a shorter length and give specific advice on partitioning the submitted thesis. Students should refer to the regulations for individual programmes for advice on the usual length and specified components of theses in their subject area.
The signature of the student on the Examination Entry Form to the examination for the specialist doctorate shall be taken as confirmation that the thesis submitted is within the required word limit.
“Supporting data” refers largely to raw data which is not essential to the argument of the thesis. Appendices are not in the word count and should only include material which examiners are not required to read in order to examine the thesis, but to which they may refer if they wish. Examiners are not required to read beyond the maximum word limit.
Students should refer to the specific programme regulations for their thesis word lengths and other elements of their programmes that are examined as part of the doctorate.

  2.3.5 Format of a Thesis

The thesis should be submitted in the format determined by the home department/division of the programme at the time of submission.
Further information and guidance on the format and presentation of theses is available from the individual programme literature.

  2.3.6 Availability of a Thesis

At the time of entry to the examination, students are required to sign a declaration giving UCL the necessary authority to retain a copy or copies of the thesis.
Further information about the terms of this declaration on retention is available from the individual programme literature.
Students may apply to UCL, at the time of registration or thereafter, for restriction of access for a period of not more than two calendar years to their thesis and/or the abstract of their thesis on the grounds of commercial exploitation or patenting. If the thesis includes material that is significant for reasons of confidentiality or other reasons, subject to approval of UCL, copies of the thesis placed in the public domain may have certain parts excised from them. Applications to restrict access to a thesis should be made via the Student Centre.