The Thesis Process

Write up

Don’t force yourself to write when you really aren’t in a writing mood, it just makes you resent it even more. Stop and do something different, whether that is organise your results, make some diagrams, tidy your latex files, etc.

Ken Turner: “There's no set format for theses. They vary as much as their authors do as people. So don't feel you have to mimic x, y or z.” Just because someone else has a particular section doesn’t mean you have to. Do what is right for YOU and your thesis.

Make your thesis tell a story. Don’t write each chapter like it’s a single block, make it flow and fit the bigger picture. Even your state of the arts should flow and tell the story of your research process.

Ken Turner: “The Introduction and Conclusion chapters are perhaps the most difficult to write: start well, end well, what goes in between may not matter so much.”.

Cite your external and internals work! Seems obvious, but some people forget.

Writing advice from previous phd student:

2-3 Months Prior to Submission

At least two months before you plan to submit your thesis to the uni:

  • meet with your supervisor and discuss potential internal and external examiners. make sure to research them fully and choose wisely. This can make the difference of many months of corrections...
  • decide on your *exact* title of your thesis.
  • obtain the ‘intention to submit’ form
  • ARO 014 Higher Degrees by Research - Notification of Thesis Title
  • submit the form to student exams office (the one down at the 2z area)

At this point the uni contacts your supervisor to ask him for details of the examiners. The uni then officially asks your external (your internal is assumed to have accepted). Note: the uni can be useless - make sure that your external gets asked (your supervisor will be cc’d in any correspondence so will know).

You will also receive an email which confirms that your title has been notified. Double check that the title is correct as it can’t be changed after this. Most likely three attachments to this email will exist: confirmation of your notification of thesis title, a postgraduate experience questionnaire, and your final submission form. Make sure to keep these safe.


So, you’re finished? The following needs done:


As of now [May 2012] your thesis must be printed single-sided double spaced. Note: double spaced in latex is actually line spacing: 1.6 ( (check out the difference from my [Claire’s] thesis versus older thesis’s in the dept who were using 2.0 spacing instead of 1.6).

Details can be found:

You can print your thesis in colour on the giant printer in 4B88.


You need 3 copies of your thesis softbound. Take it down to print services ( and it takes them about half an hour and costs approximately £10 (which you have to pay, not the dept).


You will need a submission form filled in (
ARO 015a Higher Degrees by Research - Thesis Submission Form

You should also complete the Exit Questionnaire that you received in your submission of thesis title email (no idea where to find this apart from if it was attached to your email). I guess if it’s not attached then just ignore it, since no one asks for it directly.

Hand In

Take to the Student exams office (the bit down at 2Z area):

  • Two bound copies of your thesis
  • ARO 015a Thesis submission form (ignore the money part at the bottom of the form)
  • 4 separate copies of your thesis title page and abstract.
  • Exit questionnaire (the student exams office will send it internal mail to the research office for you).

At this point the two copies will get sent out to your examiners. The uni is notorious for being slow and useless at this for some reason, so it is highly recommended that you send a digital copy to both your internal and external, and keep an eye on the uni by ensuring that your internal does eventually receive his copy.


Prepare prepare prepare! Prepare a 10 minute high-level overview talk in case your examiners want this. Read your thesis numerous times beforehand. Mock-vivas can be very useful, though only with people who have been through a viva beforehand - perhaps organise one with your second supervisor.

Advice from Previous Students:


Corrections corrections corrections!


Final Submission


Once your examinar has signed off on you corrections they will submit the form to the university. The university will then process your form and send you a letter (to your home address) to tell you this has been done. You can email StudentAdministrationResearch[@] and request that they email you too. 

They will post you three things:

As soon at the university has processed your form you will be able to submit your digital copy of your thesis to the library. This can take up to 24 hours to process, but once accepted you are then free to submit your physical copies. You cannot submit your physical copies until this has happened.


The university want two physical copies of you thesis, one for the library and one for the department. Of course, you may want more for your own personal copies. Printing is the same as that for your first version, so see printing guidelines above.


The uni want one hardbound copy for the library, and one softbound copy for the dept. (However, I chose to submit two hardbounds so the dept got a nicer one but that is entirely up to you.) The graphics and print services on campus bound these two copies for me for 41 pounds total, so prices are reasonable. 

For a personal copy you are free to do as you want. I took an A5, single spaced, double sided version to Helix Binders in Grangemouth and they did a fantastic job of hardbinding with a choice of colours. Two copies cost 36 pounds.


You only need the AR0 015c (


Take with you to the Student Admin Office:

  • ARO 015c
  • Two physical bound copies of your thesis (with at least one hard bound)
  •  Seperate copy of: title page, abstract and table of contents.
  • A camera to recored the moment you FINISH! 



About a month and a half before graduation the university will each out to you with instructions on how to register for graduation.


Email StudentAdministrationResearch[@] with any questions at all and they are great at getting back to you.