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Presentation of your thesis

Regulation 38 Governing Research Degrees ( states that

To satisfy the requirements of the degree of PhD, a thesis must constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge and is, in principle, worthy of peer-reviewed publication. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written and well argued and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. It shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.

The maximum length of the thesis is 70,000 words in the Faculty of Science and 80,000 words in the Faculties of Arts, Medicine and Social Studies. These limits are exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and

In the Faculties of Arts and Social Studies an appendix may contain material that functions as data to supplement the main argument of the thesis. This may not contain material that is an essential or integral part of the thesis. The total length of all appendices combined may not exceed 5,000 words in length.

A student must attend an oral examination, which shall cover the thesis itself and the field of study in which the thesis has been written. The examiners may also require the student to take a written and/or practical examination. The student must complete satisfactorily the oral examination and written and/or practical examination, in order to satisfy the requirements for the degree.

Citation style

At undergraduate level the Department currently stipulates MLA (Modern Languages Association) presentational style, but at PGR level it is up to individuals to decide which system they wish to use. More detailed advice on the presentation of submissions may be found, for example, in the MHRA Style Book (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, various editions) and a copy is kept in the department office for consultation. It is also accessible at

Submitting Theses

All PhD, MPhil and MA (by Research) candidates must submit two copies of their thesis for examination in a soft binding, which is carried out by Warwick Print, with corresponding copies on disc. Theses should be taken to the Graduate School Office in University House, see for guidance,

Upon passing, the University will retain one hard-bound copy and one disc copy for the library. For details, see:

It is a candidate’s responsibility to ensure that their dissertation is submitted on time. You are advised to check with Warwick Print beforehand regarding the amount of time they will need to bind the dissertation. This can take several days. Also check Graduate School Office opening times.

Plagiarism in Dissertations

Plagiarism is the direct transcription, without acknowledgement of passages, sentences or even phrases from someone else’s writing, whether published or not. This includes the presentation as your own of material from a printed or other source with only a few changes in wording. There is of course a grey area where making use of secondary material comes close to copying from it, but the problem can usually be avoided by acknowledging that a certain writer holds similar views, and by writing your thesis without the book or direct transcription from it open before you. Please bear the following points in mind:

  • Unacknowledged use of the internet and unacknowledged direct citation from websites will also be counted as plagiarism.
  • All quotations from secondary sources must therefore be acknowledged each time they occur. It is not enough to include the work from which they are taken in the bibliography at the end of the dissertation, and such inclusion will not be accepted as a defence should plagiarism be alleged. When you write your thesis you will be asked to sign an undertaking that the work it contains is your own.

Plagiarism will be detected and will be punished. The University regards plagiarism as a serious offence. A supervisor who finds plagiarism in a thesis will report the matter to the Chair of School.

In practice, few students are deliberately dishonest and many cases of plagiarism arise from bad scholarly practice. There is nothing wrong in engaging with other people’s ideas. Indeed, much academic writing can comprise a silent discussion with other texts, and most dissertations include an intelligent survey and synthesis of existing views. The important thing is to know what is yours and what is not and to communicate this clearly to the reader. In this respect, scholarly practice is more than a matter of mechanical convention: it is a means of intellectual discipline for oneself and of honest service to others.