Rules and procedures for your thesis

It is important that you understand your responsibilities and the relevant procedures you need to follow during the thesis submission process.

Nomination of examiners

The University requires nomination and selection of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) thesis examiners to be based on the principle that candidates receive an impartial examination by high-quality examiners in the relevant field of research.

The examiners must not have had any involvement in the preparation of the thesis, as a member of the supervisory panel or as an academic advisor for the candidate. The University expects all supervisors, faculties and examiners to report all actual or potential conflicts of interest.

The University applies the Conflict of Interest Guidelines [PDF 168KB] of the Australian Council of Graduate Research.

You should discuss possible examiners with your Principal Supervisor and other supervisors at least three months in advance of your thesis submission date. Your supervisor will contact the possible examiners to ascertain their availability to examine your thesis.

Once confirmed, your supervisor will submit an electronic examiner nomination via the HDR Thesis Examination portal to the Thesis Examination Subcommittee for review and approval. This normally includes a list of:

  • Five examiners for a doctoral degree
  • Four for a Master of Philosophy degree

You will have to electronically confirm the selection of the nominated examiners.

For further information on the nomination of examiners, see Schedule 2 in the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

You should discuss with your Principal Supervisor the names of any persons that you do not wish to examine your thesis at least two months before your expected thesis submission date.

Your supervisor will contact possible examiners to ascertain their availability to examine your thesis. Once confirmed, your supervisor will submit an electronic examiner nomination via the HDR Thesis Examination portal to the Thesis Examination Subcommittee for review and approval.

For further information on the nomination of examiners, see the Master of Research - Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Procedures and Schedule 2 in the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

Thesis preparation

Before you submit your thesis, it is important to ensure you are following all content, presentation, formatting, and length requirements. These may vary depending on your faculty, department or examiner’s needs. While your supervisor can guide you, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure you follow University standards.

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 candidate 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 candidate 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 an HDR candidate 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.

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 specify your specific contribution to the conception, data collection, analysis and writing of each paper in a Statement of Authorship and in relevant footnotes/endnotes. You should also specify in your thesis the contribution of others to the preparation of the thesis or to individual parts of it.

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.

Candidates 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. a 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 candidates 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 HDR candidates is governed by the ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’ as set out by the Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd). You can search for an editor who offers the services you need and has expertise in the subject you are writing about on the Find an editor page.

You must consult your supervisor before engaging an editor.

Thesis submission

Before you submit your thesis, it is important to ensure you prepare any additional required documents required.

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.

Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement

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.

Ethics approval

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.

Unofficial academic transcript - PhD/MPhil candidates only

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.

Six Digit Field of Research (FOR) codes

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.

When your thesis is complete and appropriately formatted, you must submit your thesis via the HDR Thesis Examination Portal. For more information view the instructions for submitting your thesis via the HDR Thesis Examination Portal [PDF 684KB].

Note for Master of Research (MRes) candidates: If your thesis is submitted late, you will be penalised one percentage point from your final MRes thesis grade per calendar day until your thesis is submitted. Submission will be taken as the date your thesis is submitted electronically via the portal.

If your supervisor is unable or unwilling to approve your thesis submission, the matter should be referred to the Faculty’s Associate Dean of Higher Degree Research for resolution.

Once your thesis is submitted, your candidature is considered to be 'Under Examination' (UX).

For information about the examination process, see the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

If you are enrolled in a Cotutelle or Joint PhD program, refer to your agreement for additional information relating to your examiners and thesis examination. Joint PhD candidates with a lead university that is not Macquarie University must provide the following information to hdrexam@mq.edu.au to ensure your enrolment is not ceased:

  • evidence of your thesis submission
  • 100 words abstract for your Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement
  • a point of contact at the partner university

The Office of Higher Degree Research Training and Partnerships (OHDRTP) holds regular drop-in sessions for candidates who require assistance with preparing for their thesis submission. Candidates can book in for a 15-minute session with a member of the examination team to discuss any concerns with submission requirements and walk through the submission process.

Next sessions

Master of Research (MRes) drop-in sessions
  • Date: Every Tuesday and Friday
  • Time: 9.00 – 11.00am
  • Location: OHDRTP, Level 2 -16 Wally's Walk
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) drop-in sessions
  • Date: Every Monday and Thursday
  • Time: 9.00 – 11.00am
  • Location: OHDRTP, Level 2 -16 Wally's Walk

To book a session, send the HDR Examinations team (hdrexam@mq.edu.au) a calendar invite via Outlook 365. Include your full name, Student ID, degree and 'Drop-in session' in the calendar invite.

Examination and completion

After your thesis is submitted and your examiners finalised, your thesis will be sent for examination. Each examiner is sent your thesis together with examination instructions guidelines. Your examiners are required to complete their examination and provide their report within four weeks for MRes theses and five weeks for PhD and MPhil theses. Candidates and supervisors should not contact examiners during the examination process.

For detailed information about the HDR examination process, see the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

  • Award: The thesis meets all required standards in terms of the nature and quality of work undertaken, and the degree can be awarded without any further work by the candidate, other than the correction of typographical errors and small lapses of expression and presentation in the final copy.
  • Award (after Corrections): The thesis meets all required standards in terms of the nature and quality of work undertaken, and the degree can be awarded without further examination once the candidate has made a number of corrections and clarifications in the thesis. The corrections are to be completed to the satisfaction of the Thesis Examination Subcommittee and are required to be completed within one month for MRes candidates and two months for MPhil/PhD candidates.
  • Revision and re-examination: The thesis does not yet meet all required standards for the award of the degree and the candidate should complete a further period of research and writing. Normally, under this category, a candidate would re-enrol for a period of up to one-year full-time (or equivalent). The thesis will then be submitted for re-examination.
  • Not award: The thesis does not meet the required standards for the award of the degree, and does not warrant a further period of research and writing.

MRes candidates will also be awarded a percentage score for their thesis. The maximum mark a thesis can receive after re-examination is 64%.

For further information about examination criteria and outcomes, see the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

In some cases, you may be advised to revise and resubmit your thesis for re-examination. During re-examination, examiners are requested to determine whether or not the revised thesis now meets the requirements of the degree as specified.

Re-submission must occur within one year from the date of the decision for revision for HDR candidates and three months from the date of the decision for revision for MRes candidates.

For re-submission, you will need to submit your thesis in accordance with the relevant submission requirements. You must also include documentation that addresses the matters raised in your initial examination. This documentation must not be examiner-specific.

  • Initial examiners will receive an invitation to re-examine your thesis. Re-examiners are allowed access to your unrevised thesis, along with all reports from the University and initial examiners (subject to privacy requirements).
  • If your initial examiners are unavailable, there may be new examiners appointed. You should make no direct contact with your examiners – any contact you wish to make must be approved by the Research and Research Training Committee.
  • If you do not complete your re-submission in the determined time-frame, you will be deemed to have failed the requirements for the award of your degree.
  • If you fail to meet the requirements of the degree on re-examination, you cannot apply for further re-examination.

Note that revision of your thesis requires you to re-enrol and pay any required fees.

For further information about the resubmission process, see the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.

Once the thesis has been examined and passed by the Research and Research Training Committee, you have to send a digital copy of the thesis accompanied by the required Digital Thesis Submission Form to the Higher Degree Research Office for inclusion in the Macquarie University Digital Theses Program. Your faculty may also request a hardbound copy of your thesis.

Macquarie University Digital Theses Program

The Macquarie University Digital Theses Program is a collection of digital versions of Macquarie University Higher Degree Theses deposited by the Library. Records of the theses are included in MultiSearch in Macquarie University ResearchOnline. Thesis records are also available in Trove Australia, Google and Google Scholar.

All higher degree research candidates, including PhD, MPhil, MRes and Professional Doctorate candidates must submit a digital copy of their thesis.

To submit, you must:

  • complete the Digital Thesis Submission Form [RTF 6.3MB] and submit it with your thesis to the OHDRTP exam team at hdrexam@mq.edu.au.
  • submit it as a PDF, DOC or RTF, with PDF being preferred.
  • For multi-media theses, contact your Research Librarian. Do not incorporate any security or access protection measures into the file as the Library may need to make minor formatting adjustments.

The Macquarie University Digital Theses Program gives your research greater potential readership, ensures your research is protected from destruction and provides security through adherence to metadata standards and access rights.

Parts of your thesis may be subject to copyright. If you are concerned about copyright issues related to your thesis, check Macquarie's information on copyright, talk to Macquarie University's Copyright Coordinator or speak to your Research Librarian.

Hardbound guidelines

If your faculty requests a hardbound copy of your thesis, you should prepare the thesis in accordance with the following requirements:

  • The spine should state the title of the thesis (abbreviated if necessary), your family name, and the date of submission or re-submission.
  • The words should be in gold lettering of suitable size.
  • When published papers are submitted as additional evidence, they should be bound in the back of the thesis as an appendix. When they form part of the thesis body, they should be bound into the thesis itself.

If you are an international student Visa holder, your visa date will be checked by the University when your thesis examination outcome has been finalised. If your visa is found to have more than 4 weeks’ validity, the Higher Degree Research Office will report the thesis submission to the Department of Home Affairs (DIHA). You are responsible for contacting DIHA regarding your change of visa status. If you wish to stay in Australia to wait for examination results, DIHA will need to be consulted. Contact DIHA directly for advice.

For information relating to the impact of COVID-19 on our cohort, visit the COVID-19 FAQs page.

For further information about thesis preparation, submission and examination, see the HDR Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy.