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Presentation and Referencing

In this section

  • Formal Requirements
  • Presentation and Referencing Essentials
  • MHRA style and presentation guidelines
  • Proof-reading
  • Plagiarism

Formal Requirements

As it is essential that you conform to the presentational requirements set out in the guidelines below when you submit your thesis, it is wise to adopt these practices from the very beginning of your studies. This is particularly important with regard to referencing systems, and the style and order of your bibliography. The choices you make about these presentational issues should be discussed and clarified with your Supervisor. Everything you write while a research student should conform to these guidelines.

Remember, also, that your thesis MUST strictly conform to restrictions on word length. The maximum word-lengths allowed are:

  • MA by Research 40,000 words (excluding appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography)
  • MPhil 60,000 words (excluding appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography)
  • PhD 80,000 words (excluding appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography)

Appendices, if included, should be no more than 5,000 words in total.

Please note that you should read Section 2: 'Presentation of thesis' section of the Doctoral College Guide to examinations for higher degrees by research since this gives information about word length, line spacing, title page, table of content, tables and illustrations, acknowledgements, declaration of authorship, summary, abbreviations and bibliography.

Doctoral College Presentation and Referencing Guide: Section 2

The style guide and MHRC guide below are principally concerned with how to cite and reference material

Presentation and Referencing Essentials

Presentation and accurate referencing is an essential part of the historian's craft. An essay that is well written and properly referenced will convey your message efficiently and be more persuasive. Many different formatting conventions are used in scholarly publications and this can be confusing. What we recommend is the best current practice. If you are unsure about any of these guidelines, please ask your essay tutors for clarification.

Why reference?

From reading academic articles and books, you should be familiar with the scholarly practice of making references in the text to other people's work and providing listings of relevant source material at the end of the text.

Why is this done?

To enable someone reading the document to find the material you have referred to or consulted

To demonstrate your width of reading and knowledge about a subject

To support and/or develop points made in the text

To avoid accusations of plagiarism: using somebody else's work without acknowledging the fact

Because you may be required to do so by your department

Links to Key Guides

An expanded guide to presentation and referencing can be found via the link below

History Department Presentation and Referencing Guide

MHRA style and presentation guidelines

The History department strongly recommends that students follow the MHRA's conventions and style. MHRA is a footnote style commonly used in the Humanities. Superscript numbers are placed in the body of the text, and corresponding notes are placed at the end of each page to cite the resources used.

MHRA Footnote Style

Presentation and style: You will find many books in the library that can help you with grammar and style - click here for a listLink opens in a new window


The University has a Proofreading Policy that sets out what the University considers to be appropriate in regards to proofreading and what checks should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.

Proofreading Policy


Please make sure you have read the plagiarism information on the Ethics of Research page.



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