2020 applicants

Thesis word count and format

Three months ago you considered whether you required a restriction to the access of your thesis, and you submitted your ‘Approval of Research Degree Thesis Title’ form. You’ve now finished writing up your thesis and it’s time to press print. We require your thesis to be presented and formatted in a certain way, so it’s important you read through the requirements below, before submitting your thesis. Find out more about thesis submission policy (.pdf)


Use standard A4, good quality, white paper. Candidates are asked to check each page to ensure that the print is clear.

Page layout

  • Candidates may print on both sides of the paper (double-sided printing)
  • Double line spacing should be used for everything except quotations, footnotes, captions to plates etc.
  • Where double-sided printing is used, both the left hand and right-hand margins must be at least 3.2cm (this is the binding margin).
  • Where single-sided printing is used, only the left-hand margin must be at least 3.2cm (this is the binding margin). It is desirable to leave about 1.3cm at the outer edge of the page.
  • It is desirable to leave 2.5cm margins at the top and bottom of the page.
  • The best position for the page number is at the top right corner.
  • There is no standard font recommendation as each thesis is unique and may contain specific formulae or creative writing that requires a particular typeface. It is up to the candidate to decide what is most appropriate for their work, however, for standard text it is recommended that candidates choose a font that is easily legible, eg. Arial size 10, Calibri size 11 or Times New Roman size 12.

Plate captions, full-page photographs and graphs

If your thesis contains any plates, full-page photographs or page size graphs (that is, separate pages with visuals), please arrange them as follows:

  1. Plate/graph upright - caption at the bottom, plate number immediately above the plate/graph
  2. Plate/graph sideways - caption at right-hand side, plate number immediately above the plate/graph

If the plate is to face the text, binding margin must be at the right-hand edge but if the plate is to face blank verso of the previous page then the binding margin must be at the left.

Large maps and diagrams that exceed page size may not be suitable for printing out or binding. Please provide them in a separate portfolio for examination purposes.

For further advice, please consult your supervisor.

Word counts

The following word counts are the maximum permitted for each level of award*:

Award Word count 
 PhD**  80,000
 Professional Doctorate  40,000
 MD  65,000
 MPhil  50,000
 MA/MSC by Dissertation  30,000

For degrees which involve Practice as Research (PaR), no less than 50% of the research output should be the written thesis. The written thesis for PaR degrees may be comprised of a range of written elements including, but not limited to, a critical review, a portfolio, and/or a statement on theoretical discourse or methodology.

*In all cases including quotations but excluding appendices, table of contents, figures, abstract, references, acknowledgements, bibliography and footnotes (as long as the latter do not contain substantive argument). Please note these are word limits, not targets.

**In cases of practice-based PhD’s or MPhil’s these suggested word counts may be different. It is normally expected that the written component would comprise no less than 50% of the overall output.

Each copy of the thesis should contain a summary or abstract not exceeding 300 words.

Title page

As an example, see how the layout of your title page (.pdf) should be.

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Postgraduate Research Education Team