Prepare your thesis and submission paperwork

Before you submit your thesis, it is important to ensure you are following all content, presentation, formatting, and length requirements.

Thesis preparation

The University recognises that theses or parts of theses may be presented in a variety of formats and media. In such cases, theses must incorporate a written component situated in an academic discourse appropriate to the discipline area.

Note: The use of Generative AI to wholly generate a research output for examination is prohibited. Text-based Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT fall within the broad definition of contract cheating services according to the TEQSA Act 2011 (Cth), s5. Refer to the 'Using Generative Artificial Intelligence in Research' Guidance Note for further information.

Your thesis must showcase the results of your original research during your candidature, with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) theses requiring a distinct contribution to knowledge.

Unless agreed under a formal Joint or Cotutelle enrolment contract, a student may not submit as the main content of the thesis any work or material which has been previously submitted for any degree successfully completed at Macquarie University or elsewhere. However, they may incorporate that work or material in the thesis if the student specifies the work or material which has been so incorporated. At least half of the work done towards the thesis must be undertaken while formally enrolled as a graduate research student at Macquarie University.

While the presentation of research may vary, it generally includes a written component. Non-written thesis formats and media must be approved by your Faculty Executive Dean.

Your thesis must be written in English and be of satisfactory literary presentation. Theses written in full or in part in another language require approval by the Thesis Examination Subcommittee, which must be sought as soon as possible by your supervisor. If you are on a joint enrolment contract, you will not require separate approval for submission in a language other than English.

Note: The use of Generative AI to wholly generate a research output for examination is prohibited. Text-based Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT fall within the broad definition of contract cheating services according to the TEQSA Act 2011 (Cth), s5. Refer to the 'Using Generative Artificial Intelligence in Research' Guidance Note for further information.

A thesis by publication may include relevant papers, such as conference presentations, which have been published, accepted, submitted or prepared for publication for which at least half of the research has been undertaken during your enrolment. The papers must form a coherent and integrated body of work, which focusses on a single thesis project or set of related questions or propositions. The papers are one part of the thesis, rather than a separate component or appendix.

As a general rule, you will need to have enough papers to support the important findings from the research, presented in a logical and coherent way. Most theses by publication have between 2 and 8 papers in combinations of sole and co-authored papers.

You must complete (and submit with your thesis for examination) an Authorship Contribution Statement to document the contribution of all authors to each of the proposed or published research papers. This requirement is in accordance with the Macquarie University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the Authorship Standard. If there are multiple authors (5+) on the Authorship Statement, the contribution of each author must be noted but the form can be signed only by the student and supervisor (and corresponding author, if not supervisor). You may also choose to include the details of the contribution of all authors in the footnotes/endnotes or cover page for each experimental chapter.

In addition, section 1.6.55 of the Research Training Program (RTP) Guidelines sets out the requirement that the Commonwealth's contribution is acknowledged in research publications by RTP students where related to a research project.

The acknowledgement must include mention of the student's support through an 'Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship'.

An example acknowledgement statement would be:"This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship."

For further information on thesis by publication, see Schedule 1 in the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy and the Examiner Guidelines [PDF 202KB].

If you are including a creative component, you must specify its size in relation to the critical component. Creative components must be submitted in a form which enables further examination/re-examination and allows for Library deposit.

Students may also choose to merge their creative and critical components, as in ficto-critical writing or essay films. In this case, you still have to include an explicit critical analysis in written form. Its length is based on Faculty expectations but is often 25,000 words for an MPhil thesis and 50,000 words for a PhD thesis.

For further information on theses with creative components, see Schedule 5 in the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy and the Examiner Guidelines [PDF 202KB].

The research project undertaken in the MRes is intended as a gateway to your PhD or MPhil project. However, the MRes thesis does not form part of your MPhil or PhD directly but works to help you better understand your research area and demonstrate your research ability.

If your topic for your PhD or MPhil thesis is related to your MRes, you must include a clear statement outlining what work was done for the MRes. If you must include any text or data from your MRes thesis in your PhD or MPhil thesis, you must identify this as such, as it is non-examinable. Failure to do so is a breach of Academic Integrity.

Presentation and formatting

The written component of your thesis should be presented:

  • in A4 pdf format
  • double or 1.5 spacing
  • margins no less than 3cm on the left border, 1.5cm on the right border and 1.5cm on the top and bottom
  • pages numbered consecutively

If one of your examiners requests a hard copy of your thesis for examination, you will have to submit a copy with a temporary binding of a stitched and glued soft cover or in hardback form (spiral binding or a loose-leaf binder of the spring-type or screw-type is not acceptable). During binding, the edges should be trimmed.

A thesis should incorporate the following pages in order:

  1. A title page with:
    • the thesis title
    • your names and degrees
    • your university department
    • date of submission/re-submission.
    • If applicable, the name of the organisation, institute or laboratory where the research was conducted
  2. a table of contents
  3. a summary of approximately 200-300 words for MRes/MPhil and 300-500 for PhD
  4. signed statement [DOCX 16KB] indicating that:
  • the work has not been submitted for a higher degree before
  • you have referenced all sources and the extent to which you used them
  • your Ethics Committee approval and protocol number (if applicable).

Cotutelle students should submit a statement [PDF 115KB] indicating that the thesis is being submitted in accordance with their Cotutelle agreement. If you have completed a thesis by publication, you must also specify your specific contribution to the conception, data collection, analysis and writing of each paper. The contribution of others to the preparation of the thesis or to individual parts of the thesis should also be specified in the thesis.

  1. Impact of COVID-19 changes on the thesis (if applicable). If you have had to make changes to your research due to the impact of COVID-19, you may want to include a statement [DOCX 28KB] about the impact of COVID-19 in your thesis. Note that this form should be used only to explain changes to the expected experiments or thesis direction. As the standard for thesis award remains the same, this form should not be used to justify the submission of poor quality work.
  2. Acknowledgements (if applicable).
  3. The written component of the thesis.

These may vary depending on your department.

These are general suggestions for normal practice:

  • Diagrams and figures should be inserted in the appropriate place in the text.
  • All figures should include a legend either at the bottom or next to the figures.
  • Small tables should be inserted in the text. Lengthy or bulky tables should appear as an appendix.

Degree type

Thesis length

Doctor of Philosophy

75,000 - 100,000 words

Master of Philosophy

50,000 words

Masters of Research

20,000 words

Note: the maximum thesis length does not include footnotes or references.

The editing process for research students is governed by the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’ as set out by the Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd). As per the Guidelines, professional editing services can assist research students with copyediting (including language and illustrations) and proofreading to ensure that all thesis components are complete, consistent and correctly placed.

Whether you engage a professional editor or ask someone you know who is a good writer to check your manuscript, they will need to abide by these Guidelines and should be acknowledged in your thesis.

For more information about getting your thesis edited, check out our ‘How do I get my thesis professionally edited’ guide.

Required documents

In addition to your thesis, you may also be required to submit other documents with your submission. You should prepare these documents before you commence the submission process.

The Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) is provided by Australian higher education institutions to graduating students on completion of the requirements for a particular higher education award. It provides a description of the nature, level, context and status of studies that were pursued by the individual named. Its purpose is to:

  • assist in both national and international recognition of Australian qualifications
  • promote international mobility and professional recognition of graduates.

For the Statement to be issued, you have to provide a thesis abstract of strictly no more than 100 words.

You must upload the abstract as part of your thesis submission in the HDR Thesis Examination Portal.

If you were required to obtain Ethics approval for your research, you will need to provide a copy of the Macquarie University Ethics Committee letter with your thesis.

You must upload the approval letter with your thesis submission in the HDR Thesis Examination Portal. You should also have this information on hand to complete the required fields in the portal.

If you had to complete coursework units (HDRT units) during your candidature, you will need to upload an unofficial copy of your academic transcript with your thesis submission. You can download a copy of your transcript from eStudent.

You will have to provide at least one Field of Research (FOR) code on your thesis submission form. You can review the FOR codes on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. If you are unsure which code to list, contact your supervisor for advice prior to commencing your thesis submission.