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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.

Degree Max word length Additional requirements
80,000 words Students enrolled prior to 1 January, 2015 must not exceed 100,000 words.
PhD in the specialty of Visual Arts

30,000 words Work presented for examination in the PhD (Visual Arts) includes an exhibition and supporting documentation (exegesis) which comments upon the visual work and seeks to explain its contribution to human cultural endeavour and knowledge. The word count for the exegesis will be in the order of 30,000 words excluding bibliography, appendices and interviews. This supporting documentation must include all major and key creative work reproduced by archival quality photocopies or colour photocopies so as to form a full record of the exhibition and visual work presented for examination.
PhD in the specialty of Music Composition
  The work will take the form of music compositions, a bound critical commentary and concert program notes. The concert program notes must provide evidence that a minimum of 50% of the music submitted in the portfolio has been performed in public concerts. The music compositions are to be submitted in the form of a combination of individually bound musical scores and sound recordings (such as CDs). All materials (musical scores, sound recordings, critical commentary and concert program notes) are to be submitted as a single portfolio.
PhD in the specialty of Creative Writing
75,000–100,000 words The work will take the form of a piece of creative writing and accompanying exegesis. The former should make a substantial contribution to culture. The exegesis will involve researching several aspects of the creative writing project, the characteristics of the genre and the contextual framework within which the writing falls. Each component of the work must be no less than 35,000 words, with the overall works being between 75,000–100,000 words. (For students commencing their PhD on 1 January 2015 onwards, the maximum combined word total of the creative writing and the critical commentary should be 80,000 words).
PhD in the specialty of Theatre Performance 
80,000 words In the case of the PhD in the specialty of theatre performance, the thesis as examined will normally consist of a live performance, which will be recorded, and a bound, written dissertation. The performance project will normally be presented to the examiners and an audience as a live presentation. When the project is a performance text, the examination can be based on either a performance of the text or the written text itself. Where the primary examination of the creative project is on the written text, examiners will be invited to a rehearsed reading.

The written dissertation will be expected to be submitted to the Monash Graduate Education within three months of the live presentation of the performance project (where relevant).

Work presented for examination includes an original performance project and a written dissertation. The project will normally be 60–90 minutes in length and the written dissertation 30,000–35,000 words. If the project is a written performance work, it would normally have a projected playing time of 60–90 minutes.

The combined elements should constitute the equivalent of a research submission normally between 80,000 and 100,000 words. (For students commencing their PhD on 1 January 2015 onwards, the maximum combined word total should be 80,000 words). Calculations of equivalence are based on the proposal that one minute of actual stage time at this level is equivalent to at least 700 words of dialogue and stage directions. A performance work of 60–90 minutes would thus be equivalent to 40,000–45,000 words.

Two copies of the performance recording (DVD or video recording) and written dissertation must be submitted at this time.
PhD in the specialty of Music Performance 
25,000 - 30,000 words In the case of the PhD in the specialty of music performance, the thesis as examined will normally consist of a live performance, which will be recorded, and a bound, written exegesis.

The live music performance will normally be presented to the examiners and an audience at the School of Music's auditorium. It may be presented at an alternate venue that is suitable to the style of music and that enables recording of the performance, if arranged in consultation with the student's supervisor. If an alternate venue is arranged, it is the responsibility of the student to organise venue hire, Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) compliance, and costs associated with recording the performance.

The performance project and exegesis are expected to be prepared for examination simultaneously. When both are completed to the satisfaction of student and supervisor(s), the examination can commence. However, certain projects may be allowed a maximum period of two months between the live performance and the submission of the exegesis.

Two copies of the bound exegesis and performance recording (i.e. CD, DVD) are expected to be submitted to the MIGR Office. Where the recording cannot be affixed within the covers of the bound exegesis, the various items should be submitted in a folio box.

The date on which this component is submitted to Monash Graduate Education is considered to be the official submission date.

The performance project pursued in a PhD in Music Performance is presented for examination as a live performance of up to approximately 120 minutes of music, which can be made up of both recorded and live performances. However, at least 80 minutes of the submission will be from a final live performance. The critical commentary will be 25,000 - 30,000 words in total. The exegesis will be presented as a bound volume accompanied by the recording (i.e. CD, DVD) of the recorded and live performance. Where the recording cannot be affixed within the covers of the bound exegesis, the various items should be submitted in a folio box.
PhD in the specialty of Translation Studies 
80,000 words Students will be required to submit a body of translated work together with a critical exegesis. The translation component should be no less than 40,000 words in length and the exegesis no less than 35,000. The total word count for the PhD should be 100,000. (For students commencing their PhD on 1 January 2015 onwards, the maximum combined word total should be 80,000 words).For the purpose of this degree, piece of translation will be understood to be constituted by:
  • a novel or a group of short stories;
  • a play or a group of plays;
  • a sequence of poems; or
  • a portfolio of works of various genres.

The exegesis will be a theoretically informed critical analysis of the translation project and will address methodological and theoretical issues that arise during the translation.

For the purpose of this degree the 'thesis' is constituted by:

  • the body of translation work; and
  • the accompanying exegesis.

The above items are to be bound together in a single volume, the exegesis following the body of translation work. The following should appear on the spine of the bound work:

  • Title of 'thesis' (abbreviated if necessary);
  • Family name of student (first name is optional);
  • The term 'PhD (Translation Studies)';
  • The year of submission; and
  • Volume number - if more than one volume.

Two copies of the bound volume are required to meet the submission and award requirements of the degree.

Apart from any necessary adaptations, the formatting requirements that apply to a PhD thesis will apply (see Chapter 7.1 of this 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 Students will be required to submit a major piece of original journalistic research together with an exegesis (critical commentary) of no more than 100,000 words on the program of research which meets the requirements of the examiners. (For students commencing their PhD on 1 January 2015 onwards, the maximum thesis length is 80,000 words).

The research component should be no less than 50,000 words or equivalent and the exegesis no less than 25,000 words. The exegesis should address contextual, methodological and/or theoretical issues related to the themes or issues explored in the journalism project.
Doctorate of Psychology (DPsych)
80,000 words The expected word length for the doctoral thesis is between 60,000 and 70,000 words. (For students commencing their PhD on 1 January 2015 onwards, the maximum thesis length is 80,000 words).
Doctorate of Public Health (DPH)
70,000 words The DPH thesis should be approximately 70,000 words and can comprise either:

* a traditional monograph/thesis;
* thesis including published works; or
* a portfolio of work that may consist either of related or discrete pieces of work.

Students may elect to produce a portfolio of reports on four to six research projects undertaken during candidature. Each report will comprise a substantial piece of work which will have been published or is of a publishable standard. Each chapter will include a critical introduction and commentary          surrounding the work, and be approximately 15,000 words in length, and, as appropriate, a critical commentary on the work as a whole.

In keeping with the objectives of a professional doctorate to address issues of public health research and practice it is expected that the research work will most likely be in the form of action research or public health translational research, supervised by a main Monash supervisor supplemented by          additional project specific academic and industry supervisors. of Public Health (Global Health) (DrPH) N/A No longer taking students
Doctorate of Juridical Science (SJD)
50,000 - 55,000 words The expected word length for the SJD thesis is between 50,000 and 55,000 words

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