Guidelines for Dissertation and Thesis Preparation

These Guidelines are intended to be helpful to all candidates for degrees who are required to prepare a dissertation or thesis.

In the following document, the terms “dissertation” and “thesis” shall be understood to be synonymous.

1. Required standard

I. Master of Philosophy
The Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) is a significant degree in its own right and should not simply be viewed as a stepping-stone to the Ph.D. The University has agreed that a successful M.Phil. dissertation will display the following qualities:

  • A good general command of the field of study
  • A comprehensive and particular knowledge of some part or aspect of the field of study
  • Some degree of contribution to knowledge or understanding. This need consist only of a systematic and critical exposition of existing thought, and need not consist of original research.

II. Doctor of Philosophy
The University specifies that a successful submission for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) shall consist of an original contribution to knowledge and understanding.

III. Other degrees designated as research degrees
The standard for other degrees by research will be designated by the Senate in particular cases.

2. Layout

IV. The usual layout of theses is as follows:-

  • Title page (this should contain the dissertation title as approved by the University, your name and qualifications, a statement of the degree for which the dissertation is being presented, the name of the University, and the date of submission).
  • The Abstract (a summary – of not more than 300 words – of the content of your dissertation).
  • Contents page (a tabulated listing, giving page numbers for each section and chapter).
  • Acknowledgements (here you thank those persons and organizations who have assisted you in your work).
  • The main body of your dissertation (usually comprising an Introduction, several chapters, and a Conclusion).
  • Appendices (if any).
  • Bibliography (a complete listing of all works consulted).

It is not usual to include an Index.

V. You should note that “presentation” is taken into account by your examiners. This encompasses clear and accurate typing, unambiguous labelling of tables and illustrations, clear bibliographical references, and a logical progression in your argument.

VI. Supplementary material, such as material contained on CD-ROM, may be included with the dissertation. This must be in a permanent format.

3. Format and submission

VII. The candidate must submit two copies of the document to the University. The candidate is advised to keep a copy for personal use. The University will not return the document to the candidate. In addition, the candidate must submit the text in electronic format, either on a CD-ROM or in some other way to be agreed. The accepted formats are Microsoft Word, PDF or Rich Text Format, with preference in the same order.

VIII. The document should be typed, or preferably set on a word-processor with a spell-checker. All typing should be in black. Where a candidate requires to add symbols, India ink must be used.

IX. The document shall be submitted on white A4 size paper with double spacing between the lines and a margin of at least 50 mm on the left-hand side, using one side of the paper only. Other margins: Top 1” (25mm), right 1”, bottom 1.25” (30mm).

X. All pages must be numbered. The title page must contain the approved title, the candidate’s name, the degree for which the candidate is registered and the year in which the document is presented. A summary of the work, not exceeding 300 words in length, must be included in each copy immediately after the title page. Where possible, subsidiary papers and other material should form part of the document, but the candidate may submit any such material separately for the purpose of examination – see section 6.

XI. The document shall be professionally bound and embossed with gold lettering on the spine only. The University specifies that the colour of the cover for the bound document should be as follows:

(i) M.Phil.: Red
(ii) Ph.D.: Black
(iii) Any other degree designated as a research degree: Green

XII. The document shall be written in English, unless the University has given the candidate permission to use another language resulting from the nature of the subject. The summary must always be written in English.

XIII. On the page following the Abstract the candidate shall include a copyright statement, using the following sample form: © John Jenkins 1996  This enables the candidate to maintain their legal rights as the owner of the copyright. The University is permitted to make further copies for legitimate academic purposes.

XIV. If a candidate needs fuller guidance on the format of the dissertation than that given in University Regulations, including these ‘Guidelines for Dissertation and Thesis Preparation’, reference may be made to the British Standards Institution’s Specification B.S. 4821 (1990). Where B.S. 4821 and the University Regulations differ in matters of detail, either format may be used.

4. Literature search

XV. Before you begin your dissertation research proper, you must familiarise yourself with the state of existing knowledge in the field that you propose to investigate. Failure to do so may mean that you unknowingly duplicate the work of others and thus produce work which is inadmissable as original research.

XVI. You should search the applicable bibliographies of your subject; lists of dissertation abstracts (some available online); the major journals in your field; use the Citation Indexes on ISI Web of Knowledge to trace the citation of a text; the index records of a copyright library such as the British LibraryGoogle Scholar to name but a few. A number of useful online databases and electronic journals are normally restricted to mainstream academic institutions; it may be possible to circumvent this protectionist restriction by approaching an institution in your country and offering to pay a fee in return for access; we will happily correspond with organisations in support of your application. Alternatively, a copyright library such as the British Library will often provide this access to postgraduate students who become members (again, we are happy to support applications for membership). It is important to keep your searches up-to-date to take account of recent developments in your field.

5. The process of writing your dissertation

XVII. Inevitably, the process of writing will depend on your own working habits, and in a distance learning programme these will compete with other demands in your life. You should not be afraid to ask your contracted mentors for advice on this area. There are several recommendable books on dissertation writing, including DunleavyMurray and Swetnam.

XVIII. An outline plan of the dissertation at a relatively early stage is generally a good idea. If each section is delineated by a heading, it can then form the basis for notes under each heading that may be expanded in time. By breaking up the overall task into its constituent components, you will also have gained a good idea of how to go about tackling the various areas that need investigation. You should also have gained an idea of the logical flow of the dissertation’s argument.

XIX. Chapter One is of paramount importance. We suggest that you open with a contextualisation of the broad dissertation area, and then go on to address the problem or argument that the dissertation will deal with in brief terms. You then need to provide a basic outline of the structure of the dissertation in terms of its methodology and argument that will give an idea of how you have tackled the issues at hand.

XX. Your last chapter also needs careful attention. You should show how your original premise or argument can now be seen in the light of what has intervened between the first and last chapters, and in the course of doing so assess what you have achieved within your dissertation. It is also usual to consider in which directions future work might develop so as to expand on or address different aspects of your findings.

XXI. The form for inclusion of graphical or tabular information is an area upon which your supervisor can advise you – see also section 6. You will also find Tufte’s book useful – it can be found in most, if not all, academic libraries.

6. Bibliographic references and citation styles

The interpretation of bibliographic references and their intelligible inclusion in a dissertation is an important matter. There are over a dozen different accepted means of dealing with reference and citations, often specific to particular academic disciplines, and the University will accept any standard methodology that is clear and consistent. We summarise our own general precepts below for each principal category of reference by means of mostly fictitious examples.

XXII. Articles in Journals
The details required are:

Author(s) of article, Title of article. Title of journal (underlined, or emboldened, or in italics), Volume number, Part/issue number (if known), Page numbers, Date.

Mackenzie, M.F., The Contribution of Ludwig von Mises. Economic Journal, 66(1), 25-48, 1959.

This refers you to an article by Mackenzie, published in Volume sixty-six, Part one, of the “Economic Journal” in 1959. The article will be found on pages 25 to 48.

If you choose to abbreviate journal titles, you should use internationally recognised styles. You may find British Standard B.S. 4148: 1975, Abbreviation of title words and titles of publications, helpful.

XXIII. Books
The details required are:

Author(s) or editor(s) of book, Title of book (underlined, or in bold type or in italics), Edition (unless it is the first edition). Place of publication: Publisher, Date.

Creech, J., Guerrilla Scholarship, 4th ed. London: Stevens, 1967.
Yarritsa, H.E., and Smith, T.M.C., What is the Welfare State For?Oxford: Blackwell, 1980.
Brown, D., and Coombe, F.C., eds. Readings in Liberty, Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.

If there are more than two authors, only the first need be named:-

Powell, E., and others, eds., Memories of Bob Hope, vol. 3. New York: Wiley, 1997.

XXIV. Corporate Bodies (eg. learned societies, or government departments)
Some books do not have a specific author or editor as such, but will instead have been prepared by a corporate body (eg. a learned society, or a government department). In such cases, the body in question is listed as the author:-

Department of Trade and Industry, Life Without Care; a guide to prosperity. London: HMSO, 2003.
British Association for Individual Rights, The Pervasive Reach of Poverty. London: The Association, 1986.

Reference books, though usually possessing one or more editors, are usually best listed under their titles:-

Encyclopedia of Civics, rev. ed. 15 vols. Oxford: Pergamon, 1969.
Concise Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 14th ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

XXV. Articles in Books
The details required are:-

Author(s) of article, Title of article. In: Editor(s) of Book, Title of Book (underlined, or in bold type or in italics). Place of publication: Publisher, Date, Page numbers.

Hargreaves, F., Successful Universities Without the State. In: Bracken, J.D., and Thomas, H., eds., The Privatisation of Higher Education, vol. 3 London: Plenum, 1988. pp. 240 – 269.

XXVI. Conference Papers
Proceedings of conferences are often found published as books or as “special issues” of journals. In addition to the details listed in XXIII, XXIV and XXV you should give:-

Name of conference: Sponsoring body (if any), Place, Date.


Michaeljohn, S.S., Towards a Libertarian Approach to Policing. In: Dugdale, M., and Gordon, P.F.H., eds., Liberty and the Law: proceedings of the fourteenth annual conference of the British Society of Liberty, London, November 1978. Journal of the British Society of Liberty, 14(4), 1978. P.249.

XXVII. Theses
The details required are:-

Author of dissertation, Title of dissertation (underlined, or in bold type or in italics). Degree awarded, University, Date.

Nystrom, H., Cultures of Failure Within Public Sector Organisations. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Buckingham, 1990.

XXVIII. Technical Reports
The details required are:

Author(s) of report, Title of report (underlined, or in bold type or in italics). Sponsoring body, Date. Report number (in brackets).

Yong, S.H., Some Unexpected Properties of Copper Wire. Edison Scientific Research Laboratories, 1974. (AD 674 408).

XXIX. Internet Sources
In the case of sources on the internet, you are citing an entity which may or may not still be there if your reader wishes to follow up your reference, and thus whose permanence is not guaranteed. If you cite sources from the Internet, we strongly recommend that you also keep a copy of the relevant page in permanent format, such as on CD-ROM, in case it is needed in the examination process.

Author, title, edition, place of publication, publisher, date.

In addition, you must make a note of the Universal Resource Locator (URL) (web site) and state on what date you accessed the information. You should also add the information ‘[online]’ after the title to show that this source originates from the Internet.

European-American University, Guidelines for dissertation and thesis presentation [online], European-American University, 2019. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2019]

The same applies to any e-Journals, when you will need the following details:

Author, article title, Journal title [online] volume (issue), pages, date.. Available from: URL [Accessed date]

Sometimes you may wish to refer to an e-mail message. If you do this, you should append a printed copy of the email message to your work.

Sender (sender’s e-mail address) day, month, year. Subject of message. E-mail to recipient (recipient’s e-mail address)

XXX. Conferences
Many significant conferences publish their proceedings after the conference has taken place. They may also make a book of abstracts available at the time of the conference. There is sometimes difficulty in determining the details for citation with these documents. This is because the year of publication may not be the same as the year in which the conference was held. It may also be difficult to identify the publisher and place of publication.

The following sample reference is for a conference paper which was published in the relevant conference proceedings the following year.

Quentin, A., Subramanian, L., The Reagan Legacy In: Williams, H.D., Fricker, O., Ahmed, A. (eds) Clear Blue Water Conference: proceedings 1993. Privately published, 1993.

Other conferences may not specify their editors. At times, an organization may be responsible for the publication.

XXXI. Pamphlets & Leaflets
Pamphlets and leaflets are not always easy reference sources to use. For example, many are undated, and the author is rarely specified. In these cases, cite the work as best you can. For example, if the fictitious Ayn Rand Society had published a pamphlet which is undated and which does not cite an individual author, the ‘author’ would therefore be the Ayn Rand Society. Instead of the date, you should state ‘(n.d.)’ for ‘not dated’ or ‘no date’. Thus:

Ayn Rand Society, How Objectivism Can Change Your Life. Berkhamsted: Ayn Rand Society, (n.d.)

XXXII. Newspapers
Sample reference:

Carroll, L., On the Ropes; can Fisher survive another year? The Guardian (6732):1 Friday 15 June 2005.

XXXIII. Some other points to note
There are three main rules you should observe in referencing. Your references should be:-

  • Correct: double and triple-check every detail. If you make a photocopy, or take notes from a book or article, be sure to write down the full reference at the time. You would be well advised to maintain a personal card index or a computer file of the references you use, so that you avoid wasted hours trying to trace a reference later on in your research.
  • Complete: do not omit page numbers, volume number, the date, or anything else of relevance. Your task is to guide your reader to the source you have consulted. If in doubt, always ask yourself: “Is it possible, given the information I have provided, for someone to readily locate the source I am referring to?”
  • Consistent: You should choose a referencing style, and stick to it consistently throughout your bibliography. If you give all the necessary information, that will be sufficient.

XXXIV. Bibliographical Citations
Your dissertation should include a bibliography of all the works you have made use of, and in the text of your dissertation you should refer to the sources you use. There are two main ways to cite bibliographical references in theses. We recommend the use of the Harvard system, also known as the name and year system, but are also happy to see work using the alphabet number system explained under XXXVI below.

XXXV. The Harvard system
In this system, you should cite all references by using the author’s name (either in the text, or in brackets), together with the date of publication (in brackets). If you wish to cite several works by an author from the same year, you should distinguish them by adding “a, b, c,…..” to the date.

The Harvard system bibliography is arranged alphabetically by author, and chronologically within each separate author’s name. For ease of finding references, it is usual, but not required, to put the date of publication immediately after the author’s name.

Sample text:-

The subjects were asked to do some reading between their sessions, to enhance the orientation of seeking and changing irrational thinking. A frequently recommended text was ‘A New Guide to Rational Living’ (Ellis, 1975), written specifically for the non-professional reader. Paul Hauck has written several problem-orientated books – for instance, on depression (1973), anger (1974), and anxiety (1975). Another recommended title was ‘Humanistic Psychotherapy’ (Ellis, 1974b).

Sample bibliography:-

Ellis, A, 1974a. Growth Through Reason. N. Hollywood: Wilshire.
Ellis, A, 1974b. Humanistic Psychotherapy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Ellis, A, and Harper, R A, 1975. A New Guide to Rational Living. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
Ellis, A, 1977a. Fun as Psychotherapy. Rational Living, 12(1), 2-6.
Ellis, A, 1977b. A Garland of Rational Songs. New York: Institute for Rational Living.
Erikson, M H, and others, 1976. Hypnotic Realities. New York: Irvington.
Greenwald, H, 1973. Direct Decision Therapy. San Diego: Edits.
Hauck, P A, 1973. Overcoming Depression. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Hauck, P A, 1974. Overcoming Frustration and Anger. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Hauck, P A, 1975. Overcoming Worry and Fear. Philadelphia: Westminster.

When you quote an author’s actual words, you must always include a page reference:-

This theory, then, may be concluded to be non-deterministic. Humans have the freedom of choice, although this freedom has certain limitations. To quote Ellis (1974b, p.307): “Deterministic theories see individuals as not responsible for their behaviour, as the pawns of society, heredity, or both.”

Quotations in the text should be placed between quotation marks, and should run on from your own words, using standard spacing between the lines. If, however, you wish to insert a lengthy quotation (for example, more than five or six lines), you should ask your typist to indent the quotation, and type it single-spaced, without any quotation marks.

The Harvard system is commonly-used. It has the advantage that it gives information in the text (author and date), so that the reader may evaluate elements of the reliability and currency of your source, without having to look them up in your bibliography.

A different system, which can work well for theses, is:-

XXXVI. The alphabet number system.
Just as for the Harvard system, you need to arrange your bibliography alphabetically by the author’s name. Each item will then be tagged with a running number, which you will use to refer to it in your text.

The text:-

It is only in recent times that papers by Pollak and Wales (12), Phlips (11), and Lluch (7) have started to create a library of specifications from within which the Linear Expenditure System could be dynamized.

The bibliography:-

(7) Lluch, C, The Extended Linear Expenditure System. European Economic Review, 4(1), 21-32, 1973.
(8) Lluch, C, and Powell, A, International Comparison of Expenditure Patterns. European Economic Review, 5, 275-303, 1975.
(9) Parks, R W , Systems of Demand Equations. Econometrica, 37(4), 629-50, 1969.
(10) Parks, R W, Maximum Likelihood Estimation of the Linear Expenditure System. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 66, 900-03, 1971.
(11) Phlips, L, A Dynamic Version of the Linear Expenditure Model. Review of Economics and Statistics, 54(4), 450-58, 1972.
(12) Pollak, R A, and Wales T J, Estimation of the Linear Expenditure System. Econometrics, 37(4), 611-28, 1969.

The alphabet number system produces a clear and cogent bibliography which the reader can use without difficulty, but it does not give as much information within the text itself as does the Harvard system. In addition, you will have to complete your bibliography before you can begin writing up your dissertation, and this may be undesirable.

XXXVII. Miscellaneous points

If possible, avoid using ibid. (= in the same work) and op. cit. (= in the work already referred to) in your references. They are often confusing.

Make sure, when citing a book, that you are referring precisely to the edition which you have actually used.

Avoid putting your references in the form of footnotes throughout the text – you will have to duplicate the information in a separate bibliography in any case. Use footnotes to amplify points in your text only.

Further useful information may be found in British Standards B.S. 1629: 1976, Recommendations: Bibliographical References, and B.S. 5605: 1978, Recommendations for Citing Publications by Bibliographical References.

7. Inclusion of tables etc in binding

XXXVIII. Requirements for dissertation binding are included in section 3. You will need to allow time for a binder to complete the work.

XXXIX. Any additional materials such as folding tables, charts and CD-ROMs should be bound securely within the dissertation, by insertion of a pocket inside the front and/or back covers.

8. Publication

XL. If you wish to publish sections of your dissertation whilst registered as a research student but before your dissertation has been submitted to the University for examination, you may do so with the University’s permission. The University will normally require the recommendation of your Mentor before granting permission.

XLI. If you wish to publish your dissertation or sections thereof after it has been accepted for a degree of the University, you will find valuable advice for scientists in Day and general advice for all in Harman et al. Journals usually set out their own house styles for publication, which will need to be followed. Some learned societies publish stylesheets. You may also find British Standards B.S. 5261, Part 1: 1975, and B.S. 5261, Part 2: 1976, Copy preparation and proof correction helpful.