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    Reference Points

    You can look at other theses that have been completed for tips and ideas. There are various ways to access theses, and more information can be found here:


    With regard to the layout and content of your thesis, you are advised to make sure you have completed the following:

    Layout of thesis:

    • you must follow the guidelines regarding the word length;
    • include a title page, acknowledgements, abstract, contents list, and if appropriate a glossary;
    • your thesis should be professionally laid out, with headings, page numbers, references/bibliography;
    • the thesis should be word processed to a high quality, with appropriate margins and spacing (theses - soft or hard bound - can be single or double sided);
    • all citations and references must consistently follow a recommended convention
    • the thesis should have been thoroughly proof-read and checked for typographical errors.

    Content of thesis:

    You should have:

    • a review of the literature which is relevant to the study and which critically appraises the work of others;
    • a theoretical framework for the thesis, which informs the design and links to the literature review;
    • a methodological framework which you have argued is appropriate for your study;
    • discussed the findings and identified the originality of the thesis;
    • conclusion/s that take account of the research questions first formulated;
    • a discussion of the limitations of the study and the findings, and exploration of issues of validity and reliability;
    • certify that this thesis is your own work, contains no plagiarism and has not been presented elsewhere for examination.

    Word limits

    Please note that the accepted word limits (not targets), inclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography are:

    MPhil   – the thesis should not normally exceed 60,000 words
    PhD     – the thesis should not normally exceed 100,000 words 

    The University may withhold from examination a thesis that exceeds these word limits.

    Further information about the regulations for MPhil/PhDs in The University of Nottingham are available from the Quality Manual

    Submission Pack

    The University hosts some useful Information for Research Students on it's web pages. In particular the 'submission pack' contains many details to help you prepare for submission, and also includes a list of bookbinders if required. If you follow the link above, there is a further link to the submission pack on the right hand side of the screen.


    In general, theses in English language and applied linguistics subjects should be formatted and documented according to the Harvard style guide, while theses in the fields of drama, literature and medieval studies should be formatted according to the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) style guide. However, if you are at all uncertain which referencing your thesis should use, please check with your supervisors.

    Poor referencing is an easy mistake to make in a large thesis and can affect the success of your viva. 

    One option to address this issue is through the use of bibliographic management software. The University has a site licence for Endnote for use by our research students. 

    For information on the software see:

    Note that Reference Management Software Training is also part of the compulsory Arts Faculty Researcher Programme


    Plagiarism is an instance of academic misconduct defined by the University whereby a student gains or attempts to gain an un-permitted academic advantage. Such acts include using another person’s work and submitting it with the intent that it should be taken as a student’s own work.  Academic offences may incur penalties up to and including expulsion from the University.

    It is essential that all students should be aware of the School’s guidelines on what constitutes acceptable and legitimate use of other people’s work, and that you should follow them in submitting your own work.  See the guide Producing Assessed Coursework.

    The thesis must be the result of the student’s own work. The requirement does not preclude a student obtaining limited assistance with proof-reading and with the routine collection and/or processing of data under guidelines and instructions clearly devised by the student. When such help is obtained it should be with the prior approval of the supervisor who must be satisfied that the spirit of the 'own work' requirement is not breached.

    The University’s policy and regulations governing academic offences may be obtained by consulting the Quality Manual.

    Preparing to submit your (soft-bound) thesis for Examination

    When you are starting to get ready to submit, please bear in mind the following few things that you need to do in the lead-up to submission.

    Three Months to go...

    Your supervisors should see a full draft of your thesis to your supervisors at least three months before your submission date, in order that they can read it in time to be able to sign the 'intent' form without delay.

    Please make sure you have submitted a  Notification of Intent to Submit Form at least THREE MONTHS before your deadline, or your intended date of submission if this is before the deadline. Your supervisors must also sign this form, and in order that they can do this, they should have seen a full draft of your thesis.

    Submission of a completed Notification of Intent to Submit form begins the process of formally appointing the Examiners for your Viva Voce examination.

    A copy of the Notification of Intent to Submit Form can also be found in the Submission Pack. It is highly recommended that you read your submission pack thoroughly before you prepare your thesis for submission.

    One week to go...

    You must present the final version of your thesis to your Supervisors no later than one week before the final submission date. This will give your Supervisors time to make any final comments before you prepare the two required soft-bound copies for submission. Please check your Supervisors’ availability during the week before your submission.

    Submission Day

    Please note that the submission date is the latest date for the formal submission of your thesis to the University. You can submit your thesis before this date, but you must not submit your thesis after this date without written permission from the University. Your submission date should not usually fall on a weekend or closed day, but if it does, please make sure that your thesis is submitted by the last working day before your deadline at the latest.

    Read the submission pack carefully to make sure you bring everything that you need with you for your initial submission.

    Two softbound copies, together with an electronic version (saved on a CD and clearly labelled with your full name and student ID number) should be presented to the University either:

    IN PERSON: Student Service Centre, Portland Building, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD


    BY POST: PGR Student Administration, Student Service Centre, Portland Building, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD.

    Appointment of Examiners

    Once you submit your Notification to Submit Form we will begin the process of formally appointing examiners. The choice of examiners will be decided by your supervisor/s in conjunction with you. Discussions will take place regarding the most appropriate examiners for your research area. Once examiners are nominated the supervisor/s will inform Student Services and quality assurance procedures regarding the suitability of the External Examiner will take place. Student Services will then formally notify the Examiners. 

    There should be no contact between candidates and examiners from the appointment of the examiners up to the date of the viva voce examination, other than to make arrangements for the viva to take place.  This is a University regulation, and further information is provided in the Quality Manual.

    Arranging the Viva

    Providing that you handed in your Notification of Intent to Submit form in plenty of time, your Examiners will probably have been appointed by the time you submit your thesis. If not, there may be a slight delay following submission of the thesis whilst the Examiners are appointed.

    Once the Examiners are appointed, your thesis will be sent to them by Student Services. It is then the responsibility of your Internal Examiner to liaise with the External Examiner and you to arrange a mutually convenient time for the Viva.

    Please allow time for Examiners to read the thesis in amongst their other commitments; it is not unusual for the viva to take place about three months after submission and students should take this into account when making arrangements to attend the viva.  Please note that the date of the viva will not be confirmed until the thesis has been submitted. 

    Your supervisors are not usually present at the viva, but you can invite them to attend if you wish. Please make this intention clear as early as you can so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    Assessment Guidelines

    The University provides information for Examiners, Supervisors and candidates about the Procedures for Assessment for Research Degrees.

    This information also includes information about the options available to the Examiners (e.g. award of MPhil/PhD, referral and failure).

    Viva Voce

    The viva voce examination will normally held in the School of English within 3 months of the submission of the thesis to Student Services.  An Internal Examiner and External Examiner are appointed by the University and the date and time of the meeting will be organised by the Internal Examiner. Please see the Quality Manual for more guidance about the Viva Voce.

    The School of English also appoints a Chair to be present at the viva and to ensure everything runs smoothly. The Chair will not usually be related to your area of study, but will usually be an academic from the School.

    Following the viva voce examination the Examiners will complete and sign the joint report form and shall come to agreement an on the recommendation on the award (or not) of the degree.  Students are normally informed of the decision of the Examiners on the day.

    Preparing for your Viva Voce

    In order to make sure that you perform your very best at your Viva Voce examination, you may wish to make use of some of the University's many resources...

    After the Viva

    Possible Outcomes

    After the viva examination has been held, a thesis may be referred for correction by the Internal and External Examiner for one of the following reasons:

    • for corrections of typographical errors (1 month)
    • for minor amendments (3 months)
    • for re-submission with viva voce (12 months)
    • for re-submission without viva voce (12 months)

    Students who are required to make typographical or minor amendments will be required to do this without assistance from their supervisory team and must show their corrected thesis to the internal examiner (in accordance with the instructions from the University confirmed in writing after the first viva examination.) This must be completed within the time limit specified.

    Students who are required to re-submit their thesis (either with or without a viva) will have 12 months to complete major corrections and must pay a re-submission fee to the University and formally re-submit their work to Student Services c/o the Student Services Centre for another formal assessment. Please note that there is no further requirement for the School to supervise students during this period of time. However research students should ensure that they keep in touch with their lead supervisor and confirm, in writing, no later than one month before their re-submission date, their intention to submit on time.

    The School monitors the progress of all referred students.

    What do I need to do now?

    You may receive a list of corrections from the examiners directly, in which case you can make a start immediately. They may even give you one of the copies of your thesis back marked up with points for you to address.

    Otherwise, wait to receive a letter from Student Services, who will tell you formally what you need to do next, and send you copies of the examiners report forms. Their letter will include deadlines for any corrections.

    Make sure you have your Internal Examiner's contact details, and that you have agreed with them how they want to see any corrections. Usually, they are happy to receive an electronic copy - but it's best to check in case they need to see your revisions in hard copy (in which case, another soft-bound copy should be fine).

    After you have submitted any corrections

    If you have been recommended minor corrections to your thesis within one month or three months, you should upload the corrected work to the University’s etheses service ( Once you have uploaded your thesis the relevant examiner will check that the corrections are satisfactory. If they are they will formally approve your work by informing Student Services. 

    Once this is done, Student Services will write to you confirming your Graduation date (if known).  If your examiner informs us that they will not be able to approve your work in time for you to become eligible for Graduation, Student Services will inform you in writing of this.

    Clarification about when a PhD is complete and awarded

    Research students should follow the instructions for examination given by Student Services at each stage of their examination, and in accordance with the University’s Quality Manual. For this reason, you should make sure that the University has the correct address for you, and check your University emails regularly right up until you graduate. Following the viva-voce, students should await formal correspondence from Student Services which will confirm the outcome and at that point will give further instruction as to how to complete the examination process, depending on the outcome of the viva.

    Submission of Electronic Thesis

    All successful candidates for research degrees are required by University regulations to upload a final version of their thesis to the University eTheses service ( This will be archived as a record of the work which has been examined and must reflect the version submitted to the examiners with any required corrections made. Refer to the Submission Pack for further details of uploading your thesis.

    If the content of the thesis contains third party copyrighted material or confidential material then a second version with the copyright or sensitive material removed should also be submitted. Similarly, if you have conducted a survey or presented a case study, the data may need to be anonymized.

     Unless you indicate a different preference on the thesis submission template, the public version of the thesis will be published online once the degree has been conferred.  By default, in order to view the full text, readers will need to identify themselves and to agree to a declaration that they will not reproduce the thesis or any substantial portion of it, without obtaining the written permission of the author. You may prefer to select the option to make your thesis fully open access as recommended by many funding bodies.  You may also wish to delay online publication of the full text by requesting an embargo period, normally for two years, to allow publication through alternative channels.  You must discuss these options with your supervisor.

     Using the title of 'Dr'

    Officially, students may use the title of ‘Dr’ once the degree of PhD has been conferred upon them at a graduation ceremony. Students do not have to be present at a ceremony in order to have a degree conferred upon them (see the University’s guidance on inter-ceremonies and graduating ‘in absentia).

    Students can also view the University’s guidelines on Research Degree Assessment.

    When will my access to things shut off?

    Your University email account will close 90 days after the date you submit your ethesis. 

    There is no set date for the closing down of your library access, but it closes soon after you submit your final ethesis so you should make sure any books are returned and all fines cleared well in advance of this date.


    Students will not be eligible to attend graduation until the final ethesis thesis has been submitted to the University. 

    Research students who wish to graduate at the July ceremonies must give formal notice of their intention to submit no later than 1 February.  Although there are no formal submission deadlines for possible graduation, students should aim to submit the thesis for examination no later than 1 April.  The equivalent dates for December graduation are 1 July (Notification) and 1 September (Submission).  The examination process is however dependent on the availability of the Examiners, and no guarantee can be given that the necessary procedures will have been completed in time for a specific ceremony. 

    Even when these dates have been correctly observed, no guarantee can be given that the necessary examination procedures will have been completed in time for a candidate to graduate at the next degree congregation.  Only those candidates who have successfully completed the examination procedures (including viva, corrections etc.) and have submitted a final ethesis to Student Administration by 1 November (or 1 June) will be eligible to graduate at the ceremony.

    Registering for Graduation

    All students in their final year of study will usually be contacted by Student Services shortly before graduation with instructions on how to register for Graduation. If you do not receive these instructions (if, perhaps you are completing sooner than expected), you can still register by visiting the University's Graduation web pages

    You should give yourself plenty of time before graduation to prepare for factors such as:

    • Registering online via your portal (there will be a deadline for this)
    • Buying any guest tickets
    • Hiring your gown

    Information regarding all of the above will be provided in the University's Graduation web pages.

    Inter-Ceremony Graduation

    The University offers a mid-sessional 'inter-ceremony' graduation procedure, held in March and October of each year, for candidates who have successfully completed the examination process by 20 February/20 September and prefer not to wait for the formal ceremonies. This option means that the degree will be conferred upon you in your absence and the certificate is sent by post.  You are not, however, entitled to attend a ceremony at a later date.

    Graduation time-scales:

    Graduation Ceremony

    Intent to Submit form must be submitted by

    Soft-bound theses must be submitted by

    Ethesis thesis must be uploaded by

    SUMMER (July)

    1st February

    1st April

    1st June

    INTER (October)

    20th September (*AND inter-ceremony registration form)

    WINTER (December)

    1st July

    1st September

    1st November

    INTER (March)

    20th February (*AND inter-ceremony registration form)

    Contacting you about Graduation

    Please note that it is important that the University has an up to date contact address for you in the period leading up to Graduation.  Student Services will ask you to register online to confirm your attendance at graduation in either October or March.  If you do not receive this invitation, or have any queries concerning graduation please contact the Graduation Team directly.

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