Responsibility for the format of the thesis rests with the candidate after consultation with their supervisors. Some elements provide more detailed guidelines for particular fields of study. Candidates must seek the approval of the Dean, Griffith Graduate Research School if they believe that thesis preparation demands a major departure from these guidelines. The request must be supported by the candidate's supervisors and endorsed by the Dean (Research).

A high standard of presentation is required. Candidates are encouraged to use a leading word-processing or desktop publishing computer package to ensure that presentation of text and any illustrative matter is both clear and attractive to the reader. A major consideration in the presentation of the thesis is the ease with which an examiner can undertake the task of examination. To this end, the following factors should be taken into account when preparing the thesis.

Length of thesis

A thesis is intended, among other things, to demonstrate a candidate's capacity to report on the research in a clear and succinct manner. It is recognised that the length of a thesis may vary according to the topic and the discipline (e.g., a PhD thesis is normally between 70,000 - 80,000 words). There is some variation in international standards regarding the length of a doctoral thesis and candidates are advised to consult their supervisors regarding appropriate word limits in their disciplines. A very short thesis may suggest a lack of scope in a project while a very long thesis may suggest a failure in judgment through inclusion of material that could be left out.

Griffith University sets upper limits on the length of a higher degree research thesis, not including bibliography, appendices or footnotes:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (including named PhDs ) - 100,000 words
  • Master of Philosophy - 50,000 words
  • Doctor of Education - 80,000 words
  • Doctor of Musical Arts - 80,000 words
  • Doctor of Visual Arts - 20,000 words
  • Master of Arts Research - 30,000 words
  • Master of Design Research - 40,000 words
  • Master of Education and Professional Studies Research - 30,000 words
  • Master of Medical Research - 40,000 words
  • Master of Music Research - 15,000 to 40,000 words
  • Master of Science - 60,000 words
  • Master of Visual Arts - 10,000 words

These upper limits may be exceeded only in exceptional cases where approval has been given by the Dean, Griffith Graduate Research School on application from the candidate and with the support of the principal supervisor and Dean (Research).

Text layout

  • the lines of text should be in 1.5 or double spacing
  • each page should have a left and right hand margin of at least 3 cm , and a top and bottom margin of at least 2 cm
  • the pages should be numbered sequentially
  • depending on the referencing system used, references/footnotes may appear in the body of the text, at the bottom of each page, at the end of each chapter, or at the end of the thesis
  • the text must be legible as the intelligibility of the thesis depends in part on its presentation.

Text sequence

The front page of the thesis must contain the following information:

  • the full title
  • the full name and academic qualifications of the candidate
  • the element and group in which the candidature was pursued, and the name of the University
  • the degree for which the thesis is submitted including the words, "Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy/Master of Philosophy/named professional doctorate"
  • the date (month and year) of submission of the thesis.

The contents of the thesis must take the following order:

  • a short synopsis or abstract of approximately 700 words
  • a signed statement of originality (Word 17k) including the words:
    "This work has not previously been submitted for a degree or diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made in the thesis itself."
  • a table of contents, a list of all diagrams and illustrations and a list of supplementary material, if any
  • a statement acknowledging the extent and nature of any assistance received in the pursuit of the research and preparation of the thesis. This should include a list of any work published in the course of the research that is included in whole or in major part in the thesis itself, editorial assistance, etc.
  • acknowledgement of published papers included in the thesis (only for submitting candidates who choose to include full copies of published papers in chapters of their thesis, rather than write the full thesis in standard thesis style with reference to published papers or inserting the papers as appendices). For assistance in establishing which statement is required, please see the published papers requirements diagram (PDF 72k).

    Please choose one of the below statement types:

  • the main text
  • statement of contribution to co-authored published papers included in the thesis (only for candidates submitting full copies of co-authored papers in chapters of their thesis). This statement is to be included at the beginning of each relevant chapter – if the chapter includes more than one published paper, the statement and set of signatures should be included for each paper. For assistance in establishing whether a statement is required, please see the published papers requirements diagram (PDF 73k).
  • appendices (including a confidential appendix where appropriate)
  • the bibliography
  • other material separate from the body of the thesis and submitted as part, or in support of the thesis such as films, CD-ROMs , video-tapes, models, music scores, tape recordings etc.

Where applicable, a statement confirming that ethical clearance was granted and that the research was conducted in accordance with the approved protocol, must appear at an appropriate place in the text or appendices.

Supplementary material, diagrams and tables

  • small diagrams, photographic images and tables should be incorporated into the text
  • full page diagrams should be inserted on a page immediately facing the text describing it
  • diagrams exceeding A4 size should be placed after the main body of the thesis and in such a manner that they may be opened out and read when the thesis is closed. This entails a left hand margin of at least 2 cm
  • other material such as rolls of film should be placed in a storage container which will ensure its protection and which can be stacked in the Library together with the thesis. Digital deposit of the thesis may not be possible (and exemption from such deposit allowed) where significant supplementary materials are unable to be digitised.

Referencing and bibliographic details

Careful attention to the referencing and bibliographic requirements of advanced research is an expectation of research training. Training in the use of bibliographic software packages such as EndNote is available through Griffith University Learning Services and is advisable at an early stage of candidature.

A fundamental requirement of research practice is the acknowledgement of the work of others. Failure to acknowledge the work of others may constitute plagiarism and is regarded by Griffith University as academic misconduct (PDF 174k), for which penalties including exclusion from a program may be imposed. The strict requirements of an academic thesis for referencing and bibliographic records need to be understood in this context.

Candidates must acknowledge other researchers upon whose work or publications they have drawn. Adequate documentation of sources is expected and relied upon by the thesis examiners who may wish to consult sources quoted in a thesis. Failure to adequately document sources could lead to allegations of plagiarism.

Only recognised referencing styles should be employed, and candidates should consult with their supervisors on the most appropriate form of referencing for the field in which they are working. It is essential that the style of referencing adopted be followed consistently.

All books and articles mentioned in the body of the thesis must appear in the bibliography or reference list as appropriate. In some fields, the bibliography or reference list contains a record of works consulted, even if not actually cited in the text. The form in which a bibliography or reference list is presented may vary depending on the field of research. Supervisors can advise on what is appropriate for the field of research, and candidates should become familiar with the standard in their field by consulting previous Thesis.


It is expected that the thesis will be written in English. A candidate may make a case to the Dean, Griffith Graduate Research School that a thesis would be more appropriately written in a language other than English. In considering a request, the Dean, GGRS will take into account the candidate's research topic, the capacity of the host element to provide continuity of linguistic expertise in the supervisory team, the extent to which the thesis is intimately associated with the study of that language, the availability of expert examiners able to read the thesis in the nominated language, and whether its presentation in English would vitiate the thesis. A candidate's lack of proficiency with the English language is not an appropriate reason for seeking to write the thesis in a language other than English.

A thesis that is written in a language other than English must have an Abstract in English as well as in the language in which it is written. Approval to write a thesis in a language other than English does not absolve the candidate from meeting Griffith University's English language proficiency requirements at admission to candidature.

This provision does not preclude the reproduction of texts in the original language where there are no adequate English translations available, or where the use of the original text is important to the understanding of the thesis as a whole.

In general, gender inclusive language should be used.