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 submit. 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)

File type

The completed thesis should be saved in PDF format. Once saved, please review the file to ensure all pages are displayed correctly.

Page layout

  • Double line spacing should be used for everything except quotations, footnotes, captions to plates etc.
  • 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 1.3cm below the top edge.
  • The fonts of Arial or Times New Roman should be used throughout the main body of the thesis, in the size of no less than 12 and no greater than 14

Illustrations (Graphs, diagrams, plates, computer printout etc.)

Illustrations embedded within the thesis should be formatted, numbered and titled accordingly:

a) Illustration upright - Caption at the bottom, Illustration number immediately above the


b) Illustration sideways - Caption at right-hand side with Illustration number above it.

Numbers for graphs, diagrams and maps are best located in the bottom right hand corner.

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

What's excluded from the word count

*In all cases above, the word count includes quotations but excludes appendices, tables (including tables 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.

Specific requirements

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 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