The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses

The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses

The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses

The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses


When writing a dissertation or thesis, it is essential to produce a work that is well-structured and well-presented. Giving clear examples throughout, this book offers all the practical advice that students will need, when writing a dissertation or thesis.

  • Part 1: Content - from the layout order of contents to the compilation of the bibliography and appendices
  • Part 2: Presentation and Style - the details of how work should be presented and covering aspects such as writing styles, page numbers, margins and abbreviations.

The first edition of this book contributed to improving countless dissertations and this new edition will continue to do the same - using the practical advice and guidance it offers could mean the difference between success and failure.


This new edition of The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses is firmly based on its predecessor published by Brian Allison in 1997. In updating and revising this edition, I have tried to retain as much as possible of the wisdom and expertise which the late Professor Allison brought to his original work.

However, in the years since the last edition was published, a number of things have changed, not least the fact that most dissertations and theses nowadays are word processed rather than typed, and there have been significant changes in the expected style and layout of dissertations and theses, reflected by the local practices and regulations of individual universities and colleges.

In the present edition, I have added some brief new sections about the processes involved in putting together a dissertation and thesis, and preparing for what usually follows-a viva or oral exam.

Professor Allison took great care to explain many details about putting together dissertations, in particular about how to cite other people's work in your own writing, and how to compile a bibliography carefully and precisely. Rather than simply repeat the examples he chose to use (many of which are by now quite dated), I have chosen to invent new fictitious references and quotations to illustrate how to go about the task.

At the time of writing, many things are continuing to change. For example, it used to be the case that headings, titles and some other elements of a dissertation were expected to be presented in uppercase lettering when typed, but with the use of word processing allowing a variety of print sizes, and bold as well as normal print, the local practice in many institutions has continued to evolve towards a more readable style for such things, using lower case rather than capital letters (indeed the use of upper case is nowadays often frowned on for

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