Thesis guidelines

Read our guidelines on the presentation of your thesis

There are general requirements that apply to all theses, although their precise interpretation varies between disciplines, and the way you structure the intellectual content of your thesis is a matter for discussion between you and your supervisors. Your thesis must:

  • form an integrated and coherent whole
  • make a significant and original contribution to knowledge or understanding
  • be based on research conducted under supervision while registered as a doctoral candidate at Victoria University of Wellington


In many disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, you will be required to have a 'thesis': a particular position which you defend through sustained argument. Your thesis must be more than a straight-forward report.

In other disciplines, the coherence of your thesis will stem from an integrated research design or your attempts to test a theory or hypothesis.

In some cases, your thesis may be made up of a series of more or less independent research papers. Your thesis must, however, explain the relationship of these papers to one another. If you intend to include publications in your thesis familiarise yourself with the requirements outlined on the inclusion of publications page below.


According to discipline, your original contribution to knowledge may include critical, experimental, theoretical or creative components.


Nearly all candidates find that the actual writing of a thesis takes much longer than expected. The preparation of a first draft may seem the most difficult part of the work, but its transformation into the final version for submission can also be a slow process.

To make things easier for yourself, write your ideas up as you go and let your supervisor read them. The more material you have in draft form, the easier the final write-up task will be. You will also develop a style that is appropriate for a doctorate.

Remember that your supervisors are there to advise you on the writing of your thesis.

Writing support is also available through WFGR workshops and events and one-to-one consultations, seminars and workshops with Student Learning.

Presentation of your thesis

Read about the guidelines for proofreading of theses and the formatting requirements

Authorship and acknowledgement

Read about our expectations of managing authorship of publications, including theses.

Inclusion of publications

Read our information on including publications in your thesis.

Thesis length

Research theses have a word limit that you must comply with.