Submission for Examination

Writing the thesis

Candidates are strongly encouraged to begin writing up as early as possible, while still engaged in planning, data gathering and/or data analysis. This reduces the often daunting task facing the candidate if writing up is left until all data collection and analysis is complete. The reference list should be prepared and up-dated throughout, not left until the final writing up of the thesis.


Theses will normally be written in English, but a candidate may submit a thesis written in te reo Māori provided prior approval has been sought and granted.

Format of thesis

The format of the thesis should be agreed to by the Faculty/School, supervisors and the candidate, during the early stages of writing.  Drafts of all chapters should be submitted to the supervisors for comment. Reasonable and prompt feedback should be provided on substantive issues. Most supervisors also give feedback on style, grammar etc. However, candidates are encouraged to seek additional feedback from other readers.
The candidate's written thesis will normally contain the following:

  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Table of diagrams/tables/illustrations (where applicable)
  • Detailed description of the candidate's research methods, findings and conclusions
  • References
  • Glossaries of important words, phrases and keys to symbols (where applicable)

Illustrative materials (such as maps, computer disks and CD'S) may be submitted with the thesis. Such materials must either be bound with the thesis or placed in a pocket inside the cover. Extra large or bulky material may be bound separately as an appendix.

Word limit

Unless approved by the Postgraduate Research Committee in an individual case, the maximum word limit is:

  • for an MPhil/DMA thesis, 50,000 words
  • for an EdD/SJD thesis 60,000 words
  • for a PhD thesis 100,000 words

Further information can be found in the Dissertation and Theses Regulations.

These word limits exclude bibliographies, footnotes and appendices.

Citing references

There are three principal methods of citing references in a text: footnotes, the author-date and the reference-number system. The Chief Supervisor should be consulted as to the style favoured in the disciplinary area. There are particular rules for each style, and it is important to be consistent in the application of the style used.

Footnotes may be used for purposes other than citing references, namely to provide cross-references, to acknowledge indebtedness and to explain or supplement material that is included in the text.

Bibliographic style is important, and considerable time will be saved if all the necessary data for each citation are collected at the time of consulting the works concerned. Various styles are acceptable; the important point again to remember is that having decided on a particular style, this should be retained throughout the bibliography. There may be a preferred method within each subject area.

The University of Waikato library contains various authorities for consultation on styles of footnoting and bibliographies.

How and when to submit a PhD, DMA, EdD, SJD or MPhil thesis

A candidate may submit a thesis at any time after the minimum time for the qualification specified in the appropriate regulation, that is three years (full-time), six years (part-time) for PhD, DMA, EdD, or SJD and one year (full-time), two years (part-time) for MPhil, even though the candidate's registration or enrolment may be for a longer period.
Candidates for higher research degrees should normally agree with their supervisor(s) as to when their thesis is ready for formal examination.

The Soft Bound Submission Form includes a declaration that the thesis has been reviewed by the Chief Supervisor and is considered ready/not ready for submission. If the Chief Supervisor considers that the thesis is not ready for submission, the reservations should be explained to the student and attached in writing to the Soft Bound Submission Form as a Statement of Reservations. The candidate will be required to certify that these reservations have been sighted by countersigning the Statement of Reservations.

The candidate is required to complete the thesis and submit it in the form prescribed by the regulations.
Three soft bound copies of the thesis are to be submitted to the School of Graduate Research and are accompanied by the completed Soft Bound Submission form. A PDF (text-based, searchable) or Word version of the thesis is also to be provided to the School of Graduate Research at this time.

Where a thesis is used as a final report to a collaborating organisation, it is not forwarded to that organisation until it has been formally accepted in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of a higher degree by the University. That is, once the examination process is complete and the candidate has submitted the hard bound thesis for completion of the degree.

Once submitted, neither the thesis nor any part of it may be returned to the candidate or given to any persons, other than the external examiners, for any purposes whatsoever before the examination process is complete.

Additional requirements for the DMA

DMA  candidates are required to submit the final full-length (90 minutes) research-based public recital for Part 1 which will be assessed by a panel appointed by the University at the recommendation of the Convenor of Music consisting of an internal moderator (who is not the candidate's supervisor) and two external examiners of international repute. Overseas examiner(s) will receive a recording of the final performance.

Submission of a PhD with Publication

Where a thesis is to be submitted as a PhD with Publication, co-authorship of papers with thesis supervisors is acceptable. The thesis should include as an appendix, a Co-Authorship Form for each research publication included in the thesis, which details the contribution of all the named co-authors, the percentage of their contribution, and the parts to which they contributed in terms of research and/or writing.
Please refer to the Requirements for PhD with Publication for more information.

Related documents

Any candidate wishing to submit their thesis, must complete a Soft Bound Submission form
Example title page for soft bound submission
Where a thesis is submitted as a PhD with Publication, a Co-authorship form (available as a Word document or a PDF) should be completed for each research publication and included as an appendix (as detailed above).
Requirements for PhD with Publication
Requirements for PhD with Creative Practice
Proof Reading of Theses Guidelines
Guide to Writing and Submitting a Dissertation or Thesis
Application for Embargo

Please note that a soft bound submission is in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree, and that when approval has been given to submit a hard bound thesis, it will be in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree.