Your thesis must:

  • provide a contribution to knowledge with a level of originality consistent with 3-4 years full-time study for a PhD and 1-2 years full-time study for an MPhil;
  • reveal your capacity to relate the research topic to the broader framework of knowledge in the disciplinary area in which your research falls;
  • be clearly, accurately and cogently written, and suitably documented;
  • make clear (in the Statements at the beginning of the thesis and in the body of the thesis) which work has actually been performed by you and in which cases the results obtained by another person have been analysed and used in the thesis; and
  • not exceed 80,000 words for a PhD or 40,000 words for an MPhil.  The word limit includes all footnotes and appendices but not the bibliography, therefore as long as the PhD thesis does not exceed 80,000 words (40,000 for an MPhil), then the word limit is considered not to be imposed.  If a thesis is greater than 80,000 words (40,000 for an MPhil), then permission needs to be obtained from the Graduate School Examinations Team in order to submit.

Thesis preliminary pages

All UQ RHD theses are required to contain certain information. The thesis preliminary pages template is provided to assist you with incorporating this information in the front of your thesis.
  • Text flagged with {brackets} should be modified and the brackets deleted.
  • Text outside of the {brackets} should not be modified or deleted.
The Declaration by Author cannot be modified and your thesis will not be sent to examiners, or the degree awarded, if the Declaration by Author has been altered or is missing.


Keywords provide search terms that are entered into the UQ Library Catalogue.
ANZSRC codes provide data that link your thesis to the disciplines and discipline clusters in the Federal Government's Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative.

After the preliminary pages

The remaining sections of your thesis should be in the following order:

  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures & Tables
  • List of Abbreviations used in the thesis
  • Main text of the thesis
  • Bibliography or List of References
  • Appendices

Preparing the thesis


The following formats apply:

  • Line spacing 1.5
  • Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt font
  • All four margins 20mm
  • A4 page size

Other thesis formats

You are permitted to submit the thesis in a format that varies from the standard UQ RHD thesis where the variations are academically appropriate and suitable to the discipline. In addition, there is provision for Schools and Institutes to use alternate thesis formats systemically for some or all of their candidates, and these are listed below.

Including publications in the thesis

You are encouraged to publish the results of your research during the period of candidature and incorporate published work that contributes directly to the argument and supports your findings in your thesis. The scope and quality of the published work must be commensurate with the contribution to knowledge expected of a PhD or MPhil candidate and does not pre-empt the judgement of the examiners.

If work published during candidature is ancillary to the thesis and does not form part of it, the publications should be listed in the preliminary pages of your thesis. Work carried out and published prior to candidature cannot be included in the thesis.

Thesis examiners may request amendments to those parts of the thesis which derive from published papers, and that the prior publication of those parts of the thesis is not an academically acceptable defence for not incorporating those amendments into the final version of thesis.

If you wish to include publications in your thesis the following points are used as a guide:

  • The thesis, including the published papers, will be formatted according to the UQ requirements.
  • The accepted author manuscript must be included in the thesis.  Journal formatting is not to be included in the thesis.
  • The thesis must contain an introduction that contextualises your research project in relation to the present state of knowledge in the field.
  • Thesis chapters must be in a logical and cogent sequence leading to an argument that supports the main findings of the thesis.
  • Inclusion of an independent and original general discussion that is entirely your own work that integrates the most significant findings of your thesis.
  • Where the papers have multiple authors, you must include a statement for each publication, within the preliminary pages, that clearly specifies the extent to which the original research was undertaken by yourself rather than the co-authors, the extent to which you authored the papers, and give full acknowledgement to the contributions of others. You should seek guidance from your advisors and co-authors.
  • As the sole author of the thesis you are the copyright holder and therefore you are fully responsible for everything contained in it. If the thesis contains third-party material (for example photographs, maps, drawings), you must obtain permission to reproduce copyright material if permission has not already been granted as part of the publication process by the copyright holder. If copyright on a publication or third-party material has been assigned to a publisher, permission must be sought to reproduce the work in the thesis. If this cannot be done, you may ask for the examination of the thesis to be treated confidentially.


Submitting a thesis entirely comprised of publications

A thesis entirely comprised of publications must have an introduction and conclusion drawing together the published papers in a cohesive manner. The papers must have been published or accepted for publication, by you, as the sole or joint author. You should address how the individual publications link to the theory and methodology adopted and evaluate the contribution that the research in the submitted publications makes to the advancement of the research area. The thesis may also include relevant appendices containing additional papers that are not relating to the main thrust of the thesis, raw data, programs, questionnaires and other material as deemed appropriate for each discipline.

Normally such theses will be based on a number of publications in international peer reviewed journals. While the number of publications and the type of journal will vary between Schools/Institutes, the aim must always be to maintain the quality of the research degree.

Submitting a thesis partly comprised of publications

Peer reviewed papers may be incorporated if the papers contribute to the argument of the thesis and you are the first author of 50% or more of these papers. This ensures that the research and written work is substantially your own. Papers must have been submitted for publication, accepted or published during your candidature however submitted papers must be clearly distinguished from work that has already been published or accepted for publication.

Professional Editing of RHD theses

To assist candidates with the editing of their thesis, the Institute of Professional Editors has provided valuable information for candidates and student advisors. The links below provide further information that may prove useful about thesis editing including the required Australian standards.
Australian Standards for Editing Practice
Guidelines for Editing research theses

Find an editor
Elite Editing
Elite Editing offers a Thesis Write-up Scholarship, which provides $6,000 tax free to one research postgraduate student per year who does not hold another scholarship (or $3,600 tax free if the student does already hold another scholarship) to free them from other employment so they may focus on the completion of their thesis for a period of 12 weeks. Applications close on 30 June each year. The scholarship will be awarded prior to 31 July each year.



UQ is committed to the principle of academic integrity. Therefore suspected cases of plagiarism are taken very seriously. Allegations of plagiarism may occur if you fail to attribute another person’s work appropriately.

To prevent plagiarism, any source from which information is derived must be clearly, concisely and accurately cited. You must cite in the bibliography all sources from which information is derived and all works quoted or referred to in the text or notes to the text.

If you include published works in your thesis you must ensure that they comply with the requirements for acknowledging contributions of others to the content of your thesis, including jointly published works.

UQ’s policy and the UQ Library’s pages on avoiding, stopping and detecting plagiarism are valuable resources.

The use of bibliographic management software such as Endnote is strongly encouraged, as it allows you to format your bibliography in multiple citation styles. The style adopted must be followed consistently and should be established early in the preparation of a thesis to avoid time-consuming editorial work in final stages.

Submitting without Principal Advisor's approval

You may request that your thesis be submitted for examination even if your advisor or Head of School considers the thesis does not have sufficient merit. To request permission to submit your thesis without your Principal Advisor's approval, you must make a 1-2 page written case to your School explaining why your thesis is ready for submission and examination.
Your School or Institute establishes a small committee to assess the request and make a written recommendation to the Dean, UQ Graduate School. The committee is usually chaired by the Head of School or Institute Director, and comprises the Postgraduate Coordinator (or alternate), the Chair of the School or Institute Research Committee, and one other staff member with experience in the field of research and in the supervision and examination of Australian RHD theses.
Your Principal Advisor is required to make a 1-2 page written case explaining why the thesis is not yet ready to be submitted for examination. You are given a copy of your advisor's written case and invited to respond. If you wish to continue to request permission to submit your thesis, you submit a 1-2 page written response.
The committee considers all three documents, then makes a written recommendation to the Dean, UQ Graduate School.
The Dean considers the committee's recommendation and the three documents, then decides whether:
  • your thesis will be accepted in its present form; or
  • additional work must be completed to bring the thesis to an assessable standard; or
  • the thesis will be accepted in its present form for examination for an MPhil instead of a PhD.

Nomination of Examiners

At thesis review or approximately three months prior to the anticipated date of thesis submission, the candidate and advisory team should discuss potential examiners, appoint a chair of examiners and a convenor (oral examinations only).

The advisory team are asked to nominate a minimum of three thesis examiners, all of whom need to be external to UQ, and provide their details on the Nomination of Thesis Examiners form (for staff only) in order of preference. A justification on the relevance and expertise of each examiner is required. 

Once the form has been received by the Graduate School a preliminary conflict of interest (COI) check is conducted and if no COI is apparent the nominee will be formally invited by the Graduate School to examine the thesis and asked to return the Examiner Details form.  Note: The School/Institute may informally approach potential examiners in the first instance, however, the formal invitation will be sent by the Graduate School.

If the nominee is not able to assist with the examination or does not respond to the formal invitation, the Graduate School will move to the next nominee on the form.

Conflict of interest

The Graduate School ensures that all thesis examiners act with integrity. All Conflicts of Interest (COI) are avoided so that a thesis may be assessed independently and free from any perception of bias or preferential treatment. UQ uses the COI Guidelines that have been adopted by Universities Australia Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools..

It is important to note the following:

  • a conflict of interest may be with the institution, the advisor or the candidate.
  • the existence of a conflict of interest does not automatically preclude a nominee being approved by the Dean of the UQ Graduate School as a thesis examiner. When considering a nominee, the Dean looks at the nature and severity of any conflict(s) of interest.
  • the aim of the COI guidelines is to protect the candidate, examiner and UQ against potential negative perceptions during the thesis examination process. It is not a presumption that an individual will behave inappropriately.

If a potential conflict of interest is not declared by the School, the candidate or the examiner but discovered during or after the examination, the Graduate School may annul one or both examiners reports and a replacement examiner/s will be appointed.

For more information please contact the UQ Graduate School Thesis Examinations team at

Last updated: Jun 11, 2013

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