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3. University Requirements for the Award of Research Degrees

Under the University’s Regulations, a thesis shall consist of one or more pieces of work as specified in the relevant course regulations or departmental guidance. The length should not exceed the word limit specified for that degree, unless prior permission is obtained from the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies.
The University’s regulations define the requirements for the thesis for each research degree as follows:

3.1 Degree of Master by Research, Master of Medical Science; and Master of Surgery (MA, MSc, LLM by Research, MMedSci, MS)
3.2 Degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
3.3 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
3.4 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Published Work
3.5 Degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD)
3.6 Degree of Doctor of Education (EdD)
3.7 Degree of Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
3.8 Degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych)
3.9 Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)


3.1 Degree of Master by Research, Master of Medical Science; and Master of Surgery (MA, MSc, LLM by Research, MMedSci, MS)

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of a degree of Master shall be clearly and concisely written, show evidence of originality in knowledge and interpretation, and shall also be judged on its scholarly presentation. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography.

The thesis shall not exceed 40,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.

3.2 Degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of MPhil shall constitute an original contribution to knowledge. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written, well argued, and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.

The thesis shall not exceed 60,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.

In the Faculty of Arts an appendix may contain material that functions as data to supplement the main argument of the thesis, and may not contain material that is an integral part of the thesis. An appendix may not exceed 5,000 words in length unless permission to exceed this length is given by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies.

3.3 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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

The thesis shall not exceed 70,000 words in the Faculty of Science and 80,000 words in the Faculties of Arts, Medicine and Social Sciences. This limit shall be exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography. Any requests to exceed the word limits set out above are subject to approval by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies.

In the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences an appendix may contain material that functions as data to supplement the main argument of the thesis, and may not contain material that is an essential or integral part of the thesis. The total length of all appendices may not exceed 5,000 words in length unless permission to exceed this length is given by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies.

In addition, the Board of Graduate Studies has resolved that a thesis submitted for the degree of PhD should be an original investigation characterised by rigorous methodology and capable of making a significant contribution to knowledge commensurate with the normal period of registration for a full-time or part-time student.

3.4 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Published Work

To satisfy the requirements of the degree of PhD in Published Work, the submitted material must constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge. The material shall be clearly and concisely written and well-argued. The covering document shall explain the inter-relationship between the material presented and the significance of the published works, as a contribution to original knowledge within the relevant fields. It shall contain, as an appendix, a full bibliography of all the work published by the candidate.

A candidate must submit for examination two copies of material from a nominated field of study together with a covering document of 5,000 - 10,000 words. The covering document must explain the inter-relationship between the material presented and the significance of the published works as a contribution to original knowledge within the relevant fields. In addition, the covering document must include, as an appendix, a full bibliography of all the work published by the candidate. A candidate may include with their submitted material work that has not been published only with the prior approval of the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies.

3.5 Degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD)

To satisfy the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Medicine a thesis shall consist of a substantial original contribution to medical knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written and well argued and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.

The maximum length for an MD thesis is 70,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.

3.6 Degree of Doctor of Education (EdD)

To satisfy the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education the thesis shall consist of an original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written and well argued and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.

In the Institute of Education the thesis may take the form of one study not exceeding 50,000 words in length or two studies each not exceeding 20,000 words in length inclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography. In the Centre for Applied Linguistics this shall take the form of a research thesis not exceeding 50,000 words in length, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.

3.7 Degree of Doctor of Engineering (EngD)

Candidates are normally required to follow taught modules as set out in the Course Regulations. Exemptions may be granted under the University’s AP(E)L procedure by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies if a student has completed relevant study elsewhere or has substantial industrial experience.

Candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work. The precise requirements for the portfolio are set out in the Course Regulations. Students are also required to pass an oral examination to be conducted by the Panel of Examiners.

In order to be eligible for the award of the degree of Doctor of Engineering, candidates are required to demonstrate innovation in the application of knowledge to the engineering business environment, together with a number of specific competences.In addition they must demonstrate the following competences: expert knowledge of an engineering area; the appreciation of industrial engineering and development culture; project and programme management skills; teamwork and leadership skills; oral and written communication skills; technical organisational skills; financial engineering project planning and control; the ability to apply their skills to new and unusual situations; the ability to seek optimal, viable solutions to multi-faceted engineering problems and to search out relevant information sources.

For the degree of EngD, a Panel of three Examiners shall be nominated. This shall normally include at least one external examiner, one industrial external examiner and one internal examiner.

No word limit is specified for the EngD portfolio.

3.8 Degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych)

In order for the candidate to be eligible for the award of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, the research thesis shall consist of an original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research thesis shall not exceed 20,000 words in length exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.

3.9 Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)

Candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work demonstrating innovation in the application of knowledge in business and management contexts.

To satisfy the requirement for the award of the degree the portfolio of work must demonstrate innovation in the application of knowledge in business and management contexts.

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

Examiners will be appointed in line with the Regulation on Research Degrees.

Next = SECTION: 4 - Presentation of Thesis