Academic Manual

Requirements of a Thesis

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1.1 Requirements of a Thesis

1.1.1 Theses: General

1.  The greater proportion of the work submitted in a thesis must have been undertaken after the registration of the student for the MPhil/PhD/EngD or MD(Res) degree.
2. The work in the thesis submitted by a student must be their own work and the submission of a thesis for examination will be regarded as a declaration of that fact.
3. A student 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. However, students may incorporate into a thesis previously examined fieldwork which they have already submitted for a degree or comparable award of this, or any other university or institution. In such a case this must be indicated on the examination entry form and the incorporated fieldwork must be clearly identified as such in the thesis submitted for examination.
4. 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.
5.  The decision of a student to submit a thesis should be made in consultation with the student's Supervisor(s). The decision to submit a thesis in any particular form rests with the student alone.
  Further Guidance
1.  An allowance may be made in the case of a student who has transferred from another institution. See Chapter 1, Section 2: Research Degree Admissions.
2.  Students should also include in each copy of their thesis 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.’ 

1.1.2 Requirements of a PhD/EngD Thesis

1.
A thesis for the awards of EngD or PhD degree shall be examined in accordance with the criteria prescribed by UCL and the thesis shall demonstrate that it:
  a)
is genuinely the work of the candidate;
  b)
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;
  c)
embodies the results of a research programme which may reasonably be expected of a student after three years of full-time study or the part-time equivalent, formulated and carried out by the student in consultation with the supervisors;
  d)
consists of a student's own account of their investigations, the greater proportion of which shall have been undertaken during the period of registration under supervision for the degree;
  e)
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;
  f)
shows the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both a student's own work and that of other scholars in the field;
  g)
is an integrated whole and presents a coherent argument;
  h)
gives a critical assessment of the relevant literature, describes the method of research and its findings, includes discussion on 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 the field of study, (a student being able to place the thesis in a wider context), objectivity and the capacity for judgement in complex situations and autonomous work in that field.
  i)
is satisfactory in its literary and/or technical presentation and structure with a full bibliography and references;
  j)
takes due account of previously published work on the subject;
  k)
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;
  l)
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);
  m)
shows a student’s ability to design and implement an independent research project.
2.
A series of papers, whether published or otherwise, is not acceptable for submission as a thesis. Research work already published, or submitted for publication, at the time of submission of a thesis, either by a student alone or jointly with others, may be included in the thesis. The published papers themselves may not be included in the body of a thesis but may be adapted to form an integral part of a thesis and thereby make a relevant contribution to the main theme of a thesis. Publications derived from the work in a thesis may be bound as supplementary material at the back of a thesis.

1.1.3 Requirements of an MPhil Thesis

1.
A thesis for the award of an MPhil degree shall be examined in accordance with the criteria prescribed by UCL and the thesis shall demonstrate that it:
  a)
is genuinely the work of the candidate;
  b)
consists of the candidate’s own account of their investigations and indicates in what respects they appear to them to advance the study of the subject;
  c)
represents a contribution to the subject, either through a record of the candidate’s original work or a critical and ordered exposition of existing knowledge;
  d)
takes due account of previously published work on the subject;
  e)
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;
  f)
is an integrated whole and presents a coherent argument;
  g)
is satisfactory as regards literary presentation;
  h)
has a full bibliography and reference.
2.
A series of papers, whether published or otherwise, is not acceptable for submission as a thesis. Research work already published, or submitted for publication, at the time of submission of a thesis, either by a student alone or jointly with others, may be included in the thesis. The published papers themselves may not be included in the body of a thesis but may be adapted to form an integral part of a thesis and thereby make a relevant contribution to the main theme of a thesis. Publications derived from the work in a thesis may be bound as supplementary material at the back of a thesis.

1.1.4 Requirements of an MD(Res) Thesis

1.
A thesis for the MD(Res) degree will deal with any branch of medicine, or surgery or medical or dental science. It is a condition of the award of the degree that the clinical research involved in the thesis shall conform to high ethical standards. If UCL is not satisfied on this point, the degree will not be awarded irrespective of the merit of the thesis in other respects.
2.
The thesis shall:
  a)
demonstrate it is genuinely the work of the candidate;
  b)
consist of the candidate's own account of his/her investigations, the greater proportion of which shall have been undertaken during the period of registration under supervision for the degree;
  c)
form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power;
  d)
be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument;
  e)
give a critical assessment of the relevant literature, describe the method of research and its findings, include discussion on those findings and indicate in what respects they appear to the candidate to advance the study of the subject; and, in so doing, demonstrate a deep and synoptic understanding of the field of study (the candidate being able to place the thesis in a wider context), objectivity and the capacity for judgment in complex situations and autonomous work in that field;
  f)
include a full bibliography and references;
  g)
demonstrate research skills relevant to the thesis being presented;
  h)
be of a standard to merit publication in whole or in part or in a revised form (for example, as a monograph or as a number of articles in learned journals).
3.
A series of papers, whether published or otherwise, is not acceptable for submission as a thesis. Research work already published, or submitted for publication, at the time of submission of a thesis, either by a student alone or jointly with others, may be included in the thesis. The published papers themselves may not be included in the body of a thesis but may be adapted to form an integral part of a thesis and thereby make a relevant contribution to the main theme of a thesis. Publications derived from the work in a thesis may be bound as supplementary material at the back of a thesis.

1.1.5 Language of a Thesis

1.
All theses must be written in English.
2.
For candidates in the field of foreign language and literature, the decision about which language the thesis should be written in would be made by the Faculty Graduate Tutor following consultation with the supervisor(s) and the School/ Departmental Graduate Tutor at the outset of research. The decision would be reviewed at six months.
3.
The English abstract is a compulsory additional submission and standard English Language skills are required.
4.
In all cases, the oral examination of a thesis would normally be conducted in English.
  Further guidance
1.
Submission of a thesis in a language other than English applies only to theses in the field of foreign language or literature submitted by students in the following Departments of UCL: the School of European Languages, Culture and Society, Hebrew and Jewish Studies and the School of Eastern European and Slavonic Studies.
2.
The criteria for agreeing to another language would include linguistic reasons, the broader academic context, research impact, dissemination of research and the availability of examiners.
3.
The decision would take into account the feasibility of supervising and examining a PhD in a language other than English.
4.
A request to write the PhD in another language made after six months should be submitted by the department and faculty and should be referred to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee via the Student Centre.
5.
When a candidate has been granted approval for a thesis to be submitted in a language other than English the Student Centre must be informed.

1.1.6 Word Length of a Thesis

1.

The maximum word lengths for theses are:

  • PhD/EngD degree: 100,000 words
  • MPhil degree: 60,000 words
  • MD(Res) degree: 50,000 words
  • Documentary Track PhD: 60,000 - 70,000 words, accompanied by a film of 20-30 minutes
2.
The maximum word lengths include footnotes, tables and figures but exclude bibliography, appendices and supporting data.
  Further guidance
1.
The above prescribes the maximum allowable length for MPhil/EngD/PhD/MD(Res) theses, not necessarily the preferred length. In many instances supervisors may wish to recommend a shorter length. Students should consult their supervisors on the usual length of theses in their subject area or topic.
2.
The signature of the student and the Principal Supervisor on the Examination Entry Form to the MPhil, PhD, EngD or MD(Res) examinations (see the Research Degree Examination Entry webpages) shall be taken as confirmation that the thesis submitted is within the required word limit
3.
'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 limits. Where the thesis itself is an edition of a text or texts, normally in the field of literature, the above word limits may not apply.
4.
Students registered for Professional Doctorate awards 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.

1.1.7 Format of a Thesis


1.
The thesis should be submitted in the format determined by UCL at the time of submission.
  Further guidance
1.
Further information and guidance is available on the Thesis Formatting webpages and on the Research Degree Examination Entry webpages. Some exceptions are made for students in the fields of Fine Art, Design, Architecture and Town Planning as detailed on the Thesis Formatting webpages.
2.
A4 size paper (210 x 297 mm) should be used. Plain white paper must be used, of good quality and of sufficient opacity for normal reading. One or both sides of the paper may be printed on. Photographic and other illustrations should be permanently mounted on A4 size paper and bound in with the thesis.

1.1.8 Approval of a Thesis Title

1.
A student must have the title of his/her thesis approved by his/her Principal Supervisor.
2.
The approved title is submitted to UCL on the Examination Entry Form submitted to the Student Centre.

1.1.9 Availability of a Thesis

1.
After the examination has been completed and before the degree is awarded, successful students are required to submit one soft-bound copy to UCL, via the Student Centre, for lodging in the UCL library.
2.
The electronic copy of a candidate’s thesis and Deposit Agreement Form should be deposited directly via UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS).
  Further guidance
1.
Further information about the terms of this declaration on retention is available on the Research Degree Examination Entry webpages.
2.
A student may apply to UCL at the time of registration or thereafter, for restriction of access for a period of not more than three calendar years to their thesis and/or the abstract of their thesis on the grounds of commercial exploitation or patenting. In very exceptional circumstances, if the thesis includes material that is significant for national security, subject to approval of UCL, copies of the thesis placed in the public domain, with the agreement of the graduate concerned, may have certain parts excised from them. Applications to restrict access to a thesis should be made via the Library.
3.
Further information on the availability of the thesis for Practice-Led programmes is available from the Thesis Formatting webpages.