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Encyclopedia > Thesis

A thesis (from Greek θέσις position) is an intellectual proposition. A thesis statement is the statement that begins a formal essay or argument, or that describes the central argument of an academic paper or proposition. Academia is a collective term for the scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole. ... Thesis is a word used to mean variously: A formal academic work, see Thesis. ... “Literati” redirects here. ... This article is about the word proposition as it is used in logic, philosophy, and linguistics. ...

In academia, a thesis or dissertation is a document that presents the author's research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification.[1] Academia is a collective term for the scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole. ...


Nature of an academic thesis

The thesis is the main idea of one's research. The thesis or dissertation is normally the culmination of a candidate's research; submission of the thesis represents the completion of the final requirement for the degree being pursued. In certain faculties (such as fine or performance arts), the thesis may be a form of an artistic performance, a written work (of music, or of fiction, for example), or a painting or other artistic production. Such a work is often termed a "creative thesis."

The length of the thesis will vary depending on the specific degree. Theses submitted as part of the requirements for an undergraduate degree are usually much shorter than those submitted as part of a Ph.D. (or other research-oriented doctorate). Length may be calculated in number of words, number of pages, or, when the thesis is written in a character-based language (such as Chinese or Japanese), number of characters. An undergraduate degree (sometimes called a first degree or simply a degree) is the most common and primary academic degree available and is normally studied at a higher education institution, such as a university. ... Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. ... Japanese name Kanji: Hiragana: Korean name Hangul: Hanja: Vietnamese name Quốc ngữ: Hán tá»±: A Chinese character or Han character (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) is a logogram used in writing Chinese, Japanese, sometimes Korean, and formerly Vietnamese. ...

Theses are most often written in the main language of instruction at the university granting the degree, but students of languages and linguistics, or those undertaking research in foreign languages, are sometimes permitted to submit the thesis in the language studied. In some countries it is a requirement to include at least some material in an international academic language; originally Latin and at one time French or German, this nowadays almost always means English. In countries where English is the predominant language of academic work, especially in the sciences, for example in the Netherlands or Scandinavia, an entire thesis may be submitted in English. For the journal, see Linguistics (journal). ... Latin was the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For other uses, see Scandinavia (disambiguation). ...


Since the thesis is normally the culmination of the student's work on a particular degree, the writing typically begins when all coursework has been completed. Thesising is the process of researching and writing a thesis. In consultation with the primary supervisor, the student decides on a general topic and undertakes appropriate research. When a draft of reasonable completeness has been finished and approved by the primary supervisor, the thesis is submitted for examination.

For a higher degree such as a PhD, the examination usually includes an oral defense, described below. After the defense is completed and the thesis approved, copies are made available in the university library. In some countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, a considerable number of copies are printed, and small publishing houses exist whose sole function is to produce theses in this way. In other countries, such as USA and UK, only two or three copies are ever produced. In either case, the accepted thesis counts as an academic publication, that is, it is considered appropriate to cite in scientific literature. Scientific literature is the totality of publications that report original empirical and theoretical work in the sciences and social sciences. ...

Presentation style

A typical thesis has a title page, an abstract, a table of contents and a bibliography. Other components might include an introduction, materials and methods (in the case of scientific or technical thesis), results, discussion, acknowledgments, a dedication, indices and appendices, glossaries, lists of tables, images or figures, lists of abbreviations, and so on. The title page of a book, thesis or other written work is the page at or near the front which displays its title, and author, as well as other information. ... An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the papers purpose. ... A table of contents, usually headed simply Contents, is a list of the parts of a book or document organized in the order in which the parts appear. ... For Works Cited lists, see Citation. ...

Style guides

Degree-awarding institutions often define their own house style that candidates have to follow when preparing a thesis document. In addition to institution-specific house styles, there exist a number of field-specific, national, and international standards and recommendations for the presentation of theses, for instance ISO 7144.[1] Other applicable international standards include ISO 2145 on section numbers, ISO 690 on bibliographic references, and ISO 31 on quantities and units. A publishing companys or periodicals house style is the collection of conventions in its manual of style. ... International standard ISO 2145 defines a typographic convention for the numbering of divisions and subdivisions in written documents. It applies to any kind of document, including manuscripts, books, journal articles, and standards. ... ISO 690 is an ISO standard, that specifies the elements to be included in bibliographic references to published monographs and serials, to chapters, articles, etc. ... International Standard ISO 31 (Quantities and units, International Organization for Standardization, 1992) is the most widely respected style guide for the use of units of measurement, and formulas involving them, in scientific and educational documents worldwide. ...

Archaic style requirements

At many institutions, the thesis house-styles used were written decades ago and still contain some requirements, such as "single-sided copy" and "one-and-a-half line spacing", that were aimed at early 20th-century typewriter users and have become obsolete since digital typesetting, laser printing, and electronic document formats have become the standard tools of thesis preparation from the 1980s on. In typography, leading (IPA , rhymes with heading) refers to the amount of added vertical spacing between lines of type. ... Mechanical desktop typewriters, such as this Underwood Five, were long time standards of government agencies, newsrooms, and sales offices. ... Movable type on a composing stick on a type drawer. ... Laser printer A laser printer is a common type of computer printer that produces high quality printing, and is able to produce both text and graphics. ... Electronic document means any computer data (other than programs or system files) that are intended to be used in their computerized form, without being printed (although printing is usually possible). ...

Some older house styles also specify that front matter (title page, abstract, table of content, etc.) uses a separate page-number sequence from the main text, using Roman numerals. The relevant international standard[1] and many newer style guides recognize that this book design practice can cause confusion where electronic document viewers number all pages of a document continuously from the first page, independent of any printed page numbers. They therefore avoid the traditional separate number sequence for front matter and require a single sequence of Arabic numbers starting with 1 for the first printed page (the verso of the title page). Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole. ... Roman numerals are a numeral system originating in ancient Rome, adapted from Etruscan numerals. ... Book design refers to the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole. ... Arabic numerals (also called Hindu numerals or Indian numerals ) are the most common form set of symbols used to represent numbers. ... The verso of a broadsheet, pamphlet or any printed document is the side that is meant to be read second or the left-hand page of a folded sheet. ...

Regional and degree-specific practices and terminologies

The name for an academic thesis and the practice of its writing often vary across different countries and different academic degree obtained.


At English-speaking Canadian universities, writings presented in fulfillment of undergraduate coursework requirements are normally called papers, term papers or essays. A long paper presented for completion of an honours degree is sometimes called a major paper, or, more rarely, an undergraduate thesis or honours thesis. Major papers presented as the final project for a masters degree are normally called theses; and major papers presenting the student's research towards a doctoral degree are called theses or dissertations. The following is a list of universities in Canada. ... In some educational systems, undergraduate education is post-secondary education up to the level of a Bachelors degree. ... A masters degree is an academic degree usually awarded for completion of a postgraduate course of one or two years in duration. ... Aquatint of a Doctor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, in the scarlet and black academic robes corresponding to his position. ...

At Francophone Canadian universities, the procedure is roughly the same, however, the term applied to a study associated with masters work is referred to as a "mémoire," and one associated with doctoral work is referred to as a "thèse." Either work can be awarded a "mention d'honneur" (excellence) as a result of the decision by the examination committee, although these are rare.

A typical undergraduate thesis might be forty pages. Masters theses are approximately one hundred pages. PhD theses are usually over two hundred pages, and may reach nearly five hundred pages in exceptional cases.


At UK universities, the term thesis is usually associated with PhD (doctoral) and research Master's degree level; whilst dissertation is the more common term for a substantial project at an undergraduate or taught Master's degree. Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated Ph. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


In most United States doctoral programs, the term "dissertation" can refer to the major part of the student's total time spent (along with two or three years of classes), and may take years of full-time work to complete. At some universities, dissertation is the term for the required submission for the doctorate and thesis refers only to the master's degree requirement.


Image File history File links Emblem-important. ...


In the US, the thesis defense, oral defense is a type of final examination for a doctoral candidate, and sometimes for a master's candidate. Image File history File links Mergefrom. ... A thesis committee (or, at some universities, specifically for the doctorate, a dissertation committee) is a committee that evaluates a graduate students thesis. ... To examine somebody or something is to inspect it closely, hence an examination is a detailed inspection or analysis of an object or person. ... A masters degree is an academic degree usually awarded for completion of a postgraduate course of one or two years in duration. ...

The examining committee normally consists of professors from the university, including the candidate's primary supervisor and members of his or her advisory committee, as well as professors from other departments or faculties and, sometimes, an external examiner (someone not otherwise connected to the university). Each committee member will have been given a completed copy of the dissertation prior to the defense, and will come prepared to ask questions about the thesis itself and the subject matter. The meaning of the word professor (Latin: [1]) varies. ... For the community in Florida, see University, Florida. ... The External examiner plays an important role in all degree level examinations in higher education in the United Kingdom. ...

Although it is always the culminating part of the assessment, the nature and real importance of the oral examination varies greatly between countries. In North America it may take place in public or private, typically with a committee of about five (note, however, that in many schools masters thesis defenses are restricted to the examinee and the examiners, even where doctoral defenses are held in public). North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ...

At some US institutions a longer public lecture (known as a "thesis talk" or "thesis seminar") by the candidate will precede the defense itself, in which case only the candidate, the examiners, and other members of the faculty may attend the actual defense.

British system

In the UK, Ireland and Hong Kong the thesis defence is called a viva voce, (Latin for "by live voice") examination (viva for short). Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. One examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university department (not any of the candidate's supervisors) and the other is an external examiner from a different university.[citation needed] For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... For the community in Florida, see University, Florida. ... The External examiner plays an important role in all degree level examinations in higher education in the United Kingdom. ...

In the United Kingdom, there are only two or at most three examiners, and the examination is strictly in private, not least because there is a real chance of a candidate failing at this stage.[citation needed] Also, in the UK, the candidate's primary supervisor is not permitted to ask questions during the viva, and their presence is not necessary - supervisors generally only attend if they feel their student is likely to fail.[citation needed]


In Australia, doctoral thesis are examined without a live defence, except in extremely rare exceptions, usually by three examiners; two in the case of a Masters by research. Typically, although this is not a requirement, one of these examiners will be from within the candidate's own department; the others will usually be from other universities and often from overseas. Following submission of the thesis, copies are sent by mail to examiners and then reports sent back to the institution.


In Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Quebec, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland the oral defense is known as a soutenance, in Germany as a Kolloquium or Colloquium: an expert in the field, often from another university, is appointed who will present the dissertation, subject it to a critical examination and discuss it with the author. In the context of the disputation, the critical examiner is termed the opponent, and the author of the dissertation the respondent. The dissertation has to be generally available in its final or at least in a preliminary published form a few weeks before the disputation (3 weeks in Sweden), which is open to the public; after the opponent is finished, anyone present is allowed to ask critical questions (anyone who does is called an "opponent ex auditorio"—an opponent from the auditorium). The final grade is decided after the disputation in a meeting between the opponent and a grading committee of three or (sometimes) four people. In theory, also the points raised by opponentes ex auditorio affect the grade. It has happened that such opponent has caused the committee not to pass the respondent, although this would be quite extraordinary nowadays. Bosnia and Herzegovina (also variously written Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bosnia-Hercegovina) is a mountainous country in the western Balkans. ... This article is about the Canadian province. ...


Potential decisions include:

  • Accepted / pass with no corrections.
The thesis is accepted as presented. A grade of some kind may be awarded, though in many countries PhDs are not graded at all, and in others only one of the theoretically possible grades (the highest) is ever used in practice.
  • The thesis must be revised.
Revisions (i.e. correction of numerous grammatical or spelling errors; clarification of concepts or methodology, addition of sections) are required. One or more members of the jury and/or the thesis supervisor will make the decision on the acceptability of revisions and provide written confirmation that they have been satisfactorily completed. If, as is often the case, the needed revisions are relatively modest the examiners may all sign the thesis with the verbal understanding that the candidate will review the revised thesis with his or her supervisor before submitting the completed dissertation.
  • Extensive revision required.
The thesis must be revised extensively and undergo the evaluation and defense process again from the beginning with the same examiners. Problems may include theoretical or methodological issues. A candidate who is not recommended for the degree after the second defense must normally withdraw from the program.
  • Unacceptable
The thesis is unacceptable and the candidate must withdraw from the program.
This verdict is given only when the thesis requires major revisions and when the thesis defense makes it clear that the candidate is incapable of making such major revisions.

In the United States, the candidate is immediately informed of the results; in the event of a successful defense, the candidate's supervisor will often informally greet the candidate with the words, "Congratulations, Doctor X" and some form of social celebration might follow. In some countries (e.g. France and the Netherlands), the candidate is considered to become a Doctor of Philosophy at the instant that all committee members vote in the affirmative. In others, e.g. the UK, candidates may be informed of the result of the defence only days or weeks after the oral examination; the examiners usually prepare a defence report that is forwarded to a Board or Committee of Postgraduate Studies, which then officially recommends the candidate for the degree or not. Finally, in the USA, practice varies between universities, but the normal procedure requires that the dissertation be accepted first by a higher authority within the university corporation, e.g. the Dean of the Graduate School or Faculty to which the candidate is affiliated, before the candidate can be recommended for the degree. The actual body that awards the degree varies between different countries and universities. In the historical universities in the United Kingdom, e.g. Cambridge and Oxford, degrees are normally conferred by the university's Congregation. In private universities in the United States, they are typically conferred by the University President following approval by the Board of Trustees. The University of Cambridge (often Cambridge University), located in Cambridge, England, is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and has a reputation as one of the worlds most prestigious universities. ... The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University), located in the city of Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... A congregation is the assembly of senior members of a university, especially in the United Kingdom. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Board of directors. ...

The likelihood of the different defense verdicts also varies between countries. At most US institutions the latter two verdicts are extremely unusual, since the thesis supervisor (and the other members of the jury) will normally have reviewed the thesis before the thesis defense. Such an outcome is generally regarded as a major failure not only on the part of the candidate but also by the candidate's supervisor (who should have recognized the substandard quality of the dissertation long before the defense was allowed to take place). It is also fairly rare for a thesis to be accepted without any revisions; the most common outcome of a defense is for the examiners to specify minor revisions (which the candidate typically completes in a few days or weeks).

While the decision of the examiners is normally unanimous, the official rules at most US institutions allow the doctorate to be granted with positive votes from all but one of the examiners; it is therefore possible for a candidate to pass with one negative vote.

An unsuccessful defense is extremely unlikely in countries such as the Netherlands, where the oral defense ("promotie") typically happens after the thesis has already been approved by examiners. Candidates often try for a board of opponents as large, international and prestigious as possible. There, all professors are required to wear togas. The oral defense is ended after a preset amount of time by the University-appointed 'pedel' or custos who is in charge of the protocol and will end the defense with the words "Hora est!" (Latin for it is time or the hour has come). In theory, the candidate does not have to answer the questions or even be present; (s)he can relegate this to his/her assistants called "paranimfen", who also act as a formal bodyguard due to the heated nature of some academic disputes in past times. Nowadays paranimfen are often chosen from friends and family, so the practice of having them answer questions is almost completely discontinued. Roman clad in toga The toga was a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome. ...

On the other hand, examinations at universities on the British pattern are by no means a rubber stamp. Whilst many theses are passed with some minor corrections or revisions required by the examiners, very few are passed with no corrections whatsoever, and indeed a pass-without-correction is considered a particular honour. Moreover, it is not uncommon for British theses to be failed, as well — in which case, either major re-writes are required, followed by a new viva, or else the thesis may be awarded the lesser degree of M.Phil (Master of Philosophy) instead, preventing the candidate from resubmitting the thesis. In the usage of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries, the Master of Philosophy (M.Phil. ...

In the case of a successful defense, frequently many of the questions and much of the discussion will focus less on the dissertation at hand and more on further avenues of research the author might wish to explore in the future.


Submission of the thesis is the last formal requirement for most students. By the final deadline, the student must submit a complete copy of the thesis to the appropriate body within the accepting institution, along with the appropriate forms, bearing the signatures of the primary supervisor, the examiners, and, in some cases, the head of the student's department. Other required forms may include library authorizations (giving the university library permission to make the thesis available as part of its collection) and copyright permissions (in the event that the student has incorporated copyrighted materials in the thesis). Deadline can refer to several things: A deadline is a point in time at which something must be completed. ...

There can be strict presentation requirements for theses, including pagination, layout, type and color of paper, use of acid-free paper (where a copy of the dissertation will become a permanent part of the library collection), paper size, order of components, and citation style, which vary between institutions. These requirements may be checked page by page by the accepting officer before the thesis is accepted and a receipt is issued. Theses which are incomplete or incorrectly formatted may not be accepted. Failure to submit the thesis by the deadline may result in graduation (and granting of the degree) being delayed. Acid-free paper is paper that has a neutral or basic pH (7 or greater), although paper having a pH between 6 and 7 is often also considered acid-free. ... Comparison of the most common paper sizes. ...

Once all the paperwork is in order, copies of the thesis may be made available in one or more university libraries. Specialist abstracting services exist to publicise the content of theses beyond the institutions in which they are produced. This is a list of libraries at universities. ...


  1. ^ a b c International Standard ISO 7144: Documentation — Presentation of theses and similar documents, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, 1986.

“ISO” redirects here. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Thesis Writing Services from LA, USA (935 words)
Thesis writing as the final phase in achieving the master's degree has been identified both as a culmination of university studies, providing students with a bridge from the world of study to the world of scholarship, and as a severe problem associated with drop-out, lengthening of the duration of studies and personal anxiety of students.
Consequently, thesis writing, including the aim of the thesis, the relationship between a student and a supervisor, and the problems encountered, may be understood and interpreted differently by different students.
The nature of the thesis varies across study fields to some extent, but as a norm, it is defined as a small piece of research demonstrating a good command of the theme of the thesis, mastery of the research methods utilised and capability for academic writing.
Thesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1769 words)
A thesis statement is the statement that begins a formal essay or argument, or that describes the central argument of an academic paper or proposition.
The purpose of the thesis defense is to test the candidate's knowledge of his or her subject area and thinking in related areas, and to test the candidate's knowledge of and ability to explain his or her dissertation.
Thesis defenses are usually open to the public; they may be attended by friends or family of the candidate, members of the university, especially other students in the candidate's department, and members of the community (note, however, that in many schools masters thesis defenses are restricted to the examinee and the examiners).
  More results at FactBites »



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