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7.1 Preparation, presentation and submission of doctoral theses

The following guidelines outline the normal practice for the preparation and presentation of doctoral theses. A student should seek the approval of the Graduate Research Committee (GRC) if thesis preparation requires any major departure from these guidelines. Such a request should be supported by a  statement  from  the head of the academic unit. Prior to thesis submission students must complete:

7.1.1 Length of theses & additional requirements

The word length for a thesis includes footnotes, but excludes references appendices, equations, tables, diagrams or other illustrations.

Where it is proposed that a thesis will exceed the specified maximum length, a request must be submitted to GRSC. It is recommended that requests of this nature should be considered at the Pre-submission review.


Max word Length

Additional requirements


80,000 words

100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.

Refer to the University Handbook

Refer to the 2014 University Handbook

PhD in the specialty of Visual Arts (Studio research)

30,000 words

Refer to the University Handbook

PhD in the specialty of Music Composition

20,000 – 25,000 words

Refer to the University Handbook

PhD in the specialty of Creative Writing

80,000 words

100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.

Refer to the University Handbook

Refer to the 2014 University Handbook

PhD in the specialty of Theatre Performance

80,000 words

100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.

Refer to the University Handbook

Refer to the 2014 University Handbook

PhD in the specialty of Music Performance

25,000 - 30,000 words

Refer to the University Handbook.

PhD in the specialty of Translation Studies

80,000 words

100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.

Refer to the University handbook.

Refer to the 2014 University Handbook

Where it is appropriate or necessary for the examiner to be provided with a copy of the original literary text, this will not be bound with the assessable components for the degree but rather provided to the examiners as a separate entity.

PhD in the specialty of Journalism

80,000 words

100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.

Refer to the University Handbook

Refer to the 2014 University Handbook

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology

70,000 words

Details for Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology refer to the University Handbook.

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology

70,000 words

Details for Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology refer to the University Handbook.

Doctorate of Public Health (DPH)

70,000 words

No longer taking students

Doctorate of Public Health (Global Health) (DrPH)


No longer taking students

Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)

50,000 words

Refer to the University Handbook

7.1.2 Thesis Preparation

The responsibility for the layout of the thesis and selection of the title rests with the student after discussion with the supervisory team. The student should state in the preface, bibliography and by citation methods appropriate to the discipline, the sources of the information and the extent to which the thesis draws on the work of others. Full and appropriate attribution is essential.

Students should note the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research statements on ethics and integrity in research. Students intending to publish their thesis online in the Monash University Research Repository should ensure they have secured all the necessary copyright permissions. More information is available in Chapter 6: Intellectual property. Restrictions on thesis content

Except where the Graduate Research Committee in any particular case otherwise determines, a student must not present or support a thesis of work which:

  • the student, or any student supervised by the student, has presented, or is intending to present for an award of Monash University or any other tertiary institution; or
  • has been prepared by, or in conjunction with, a person for whom the student is, or has been, a supervisor.

7.1.3 Thesis including Published Works

For further information please refer to the Thesis including Published Works web page.

7.1.4 Editing assistance

The Graduate Research Committee has endorsed the Guidelines for Editing Research Theses which form part of the Australian Standards for Editing Practices.

Where a thesis or dissertation is to have input from a professional editor, the student must obtain written permission from the main supervisor. The student should supply the editor a copy of this permission, along with the manuscript.

Professional editorial intervention should be restricted to matters of language, illustrations, completeness and consistency. Where a professional editor provides advice on matters of structure, exemplars only should be given.

The student must consider whether or not to accept each suggested editorial change.

The name of the editor and a brief description of the service rendered should be included in the acknowledgements or other prefatory matter of the thesis when it is presented for examination. If the professional editor's current or former area of academic specialisation is similar to that of the student, this too should be stated in the prefatory matter, as it may suggest to examiners that the editor's advice to the student has extended beyond guidance on English expression to affect the substance and structure of the thesis.

7.1.5 Printing

Reproduction and binding of the thesis copies are the responsibility of the student.

For ease of reading it is preferred that the text spacing be double or one-and-a-half spacing, however students may choose single spacing. A font not less than 10 points must be used for the main text.

A thesis should be printed on International A4 paper. Both sides of the paper may be used, at the discretion of the student. If both sides are used, special care must be taken in the placing of margins.

7.1.6 General formatting

Margins should not be less than 2.5 centimetres on the binding edge and 1.5 centimetres on the other outer edges to allow for binding and trimming.

Template thesis preliminary pages have been created to guide students on general formatting.  The template includes examples of:
  • Cover page
  • Copyright notices
  • Abstract
  • Declarations
  • Publications
  • Acknowledgements

Download the template here.

Thereafter, the thesis should contain the main text; list of references or bibliography; and appendices if any.

7.1.7 Reference citation

Citation of books should include name(s) of authors (surname and initials); title of book; edition (if relevant); place of publication; publisher and year of publication. Where necessary, the relevant pages should be cited. Citations of articles in periodicals and journals should follow the rules of citation adopted by one or other of the leading journals in the relevant field or discipline. Whichever format is adopted should then be used consistently throughout the thesis.

If a reference has many authors usually only the first is given followed by et al to indicate that there are others.

Entries in the reference list or bibliography should be set out in alphabetical order of the authors' family names. Students may find the following resources helpful:

  • Monash University Library - Citing and referencing;
  • Style Manual : For Authors Editors and Printers, 6th Edition (AGPS), 2002;
  • AusinfoManual for Writers of Research Papers Theses & Dissertations, 7th edition, Turabian K, University of Chicago Press, 2007.

For guides to specific subject areas, inquire either through the appropriate branch library or academic unit.

7.1.8 Diagrams, figures and tables

The following are suggestions for normal practice:

  • Diagrams and figures, etc. should be included at the appropriate place in the text
  • Where the thesis is printed on only one side of the page figures should form a right-hand page with the legend either at the bottom or, if necessary, on the page facing the figures
  • Figures may be interspersed throughout the text
  • Printed graphics must be of photographic resolution and quality
  • Tables should be inserted in the appropriate place in the text, except for lengthy or bulky tables which should appear as appendices
  • Diagrams, maps, tables, etc. exceeding A4 size should be folded so as to read as a right-hand page when open.

7.1.9 Binding

Theses should be submitted for examination in soft thermal binding. The following information should be printed on the spine:

  • Title of thesis (abbreviated if necessary);
  • Family name of student (first name is optional);
  • The term PhD (or approved abbreviation of professional doctorate , e.g. DPsych/SJD);
  • The year of submission; and
  • Volume number - if more than one thesis volume.

The student must use the name under which they are officially enrolled at the University on the thesis and all documentation. An alternative name will not be accepted unless an official document such as a deed poll or marriage certificate to prove change of name is provided. Abbreviation may be made on the thesis cover or spine to ensure best fit). In that case, the full thesis title must feature on all other forms and documents.

When published papers are submitted as additional evidence, they should be bound at the back of the thesis as appendices.

Electronic storage media (CD/DVD) must be inserted inside the back cover of each thesis copy.

Only professional thermal binding is acceptable; loose-leaf, spiral, spring-type or screw-type binder is not acceptable.

7.1.10 Electronic examination

Students are required to submit a PDF copy of their thesis at the time of submission.  to facilitate electronic examination. Failure to do so may result in delay of the examination. The PDF thesis must be titled with ‘Student surname, first name, degree type thesis, date’. (For example: SmithJohnPhDThesis21March2016.)

print version

in Handbook for Doctoral Degrees