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Thesis formatting for examination

Your thesis or project is a significant document and its final presentation should be of a very high standard. Your supervisor can advise on the best way to present the content of your work in relation to your field of study.

Length of a thesis or exegesis

The word length of a thesis will vary according to discipline, but must be of sufficient scope for the level of degree. As a guide, the maximum number of words in the text, excluding references and appendices, should be:

  • 60,000 words for a Master by Research thesis;
  • 30,000 words for a Master by Research exegesis;
  • 60,000 words for a Professional Doctorate thesis;
  • 100,000 words for a Doctor of Philosophy; and
  • 50,000 words for a Doctor of Philosophy exegesis.

General guidelines

Outside the University’s rules on presentation, you’re given considerable flexibility in producing your thesis.

You may choose a formatting style or develop your own style, provided it’s used consistently. You’re not bound by the formatting requirements for undergraduate assignments and can make full use of software to produce a thesis with a high standard of visual presentation.

You should discuss with your supervisor the best way to present your work, including:

  • the formatting style;
  • the referencing style;
  • the presentation of data (figures, tables); and
  • the most appropriate order of presentation for the material and the structure of chapters.

A thesis may be submitted in the form of a series of published papers, as set out in the Postgraduate Research Training policy.

Other formatting requirements

Where you’ve been granted access to confidential information by a government agency or a company or person for the purpose of writing a thesis, the thesis must incorporate a statement signed by you setting out the terms or conditions on which access was granted and any stipulations regarding subsequent disclosure of the information provided.


You should consult with your supervisor regarding the choice of the most appropriate referencing style for your discipline. The same style should be used consistently throughout the thesis. You’re strongly encouraged to use bibliographical software, such as EndNote, to manage your referencing.

For more information visit the Library's Referencing web page.

Use of the ECU logo

If you are intending to use the ECU logo on your thesis you must abide by the University corporate style guidelines.

The correct version is the square promotional logo. Where possible, the promotional logo should be positioned in the top right or bottom right hand corner.

For electronic copies of the ECU logo, please contact the Corporate Marketing Office on (61 8) 6304 2703 or email

A condition of supply is that, prior to printing, a proof must be submitted to the Corporate Marketing Office for final approval. This is standard policy and can be done by emailing the cover document to or by faxing it to (61 8) 6304 2092.

Layout and format

Formatting requirements of a thesis for examination are detailed in Research Training Procedure 4: Requirements of a thesis for examination.

Additional support

As well as your supervisors, your school research and writing consultants will be able to give you advice about thesis formatting. SOAR Ambassadors are a good source of support for software use and managing your thesis document.

You should also look out for research training workshops on Endnote, academic writing and the Completion masterclass.

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