A thesis should provide sufficient information to enable an examiner to appreciate that the investigation has been conducted with a high level of technical skill, that the candidate is familiar with and has employed (if relevant) the most suitable statistical techniques, and that the procedures are clearly of doctoral or masters standard.

  • There should be an appropriate balance between the different parts of the thesis. In particular, the original contribution to knowledge should be clearly distinguishable from the introductory material and the survey of relevant literature. The thesis should also make clear which work has been performed by the candidate and in which cases the results obtained by another have been analysed.
  • If you are not the sole author of any publications which are used in the body of your thesis, you will be required to obtain the approval of any co-authors, and outline your specific contribution to the publication on your submission of thesis form. This will be provided to examiners so that they can easily determine what work they are examining you on.
  • It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that the format of the thesis meets the requirements of the HDR Thesis RulesSupport materials on thesis preparation are available under the 'Word' section.
    A thesis which does not meet these requirements will be referred back to the candidate before being submitted for examination. If there are special reasons which justify a departure from the specified format, written approval must be gained from the Faculty.
  • The candidate should also be aware of the implications of entering into a confidentiality agreement in relation to publications which might arise from the thesis.


Academic Integrity

All research higher degree candidates have a responsibility to understand and respect the rules and practice of academic integrity. The University's policy on Academic Integrity states at Clause 2.1 that "Academic integrity means that all work which is presented is produced by the student alone, with all sources and collaboration fully acknowledged". All research higher degree candidates must ensure that their thesis is consistent with the Policy on Academic Integrity.

In addition, Flinders University provides the opportunity for all enrolled candidates to use electronic text matching software (academic integrity software) to assist with the monitoring of academic integrity. The text matching software is available to all Flinders University students via Flinders Learning Online (FLO). Refer to the Academic Integrity website for more information on text-matching.


General guidelines


The University does not specify the length of research higher degree theses; however, the thesis should not be unnecessarily long. Although the length may vary according to the topic and the discipline, a PhD thesis is expected to be no more than 100,000 words or 400 pages, including maps and diagrams, but excluding bibliography.

In any case the candidate should consult the supervisor on the appropriate length of the thesis.

Individual faculties may determine more specific guidelines for the length of research higher degree theses as outlined below.

In particular, the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law has determined that the length of a PhD thesis should be a minimum of 70,000 words and a maximum of 100,000 words and for Masters a minimum of 35,000 words and a maximum of 50,000. This excludes footnotes, bibliography, tables and appendices, but students should not make use of extensive footnotes or very large appendices in order to bypass the word limit. When students submit their thesis they will be asked to indicate how long the thesis is, and where it exceeds the normal word limit they will be asked to provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for its length.

For the Doctor of Education dissertation (45 units) the word limit will be a maximum of 50,000 words and a minimum of 45,000 words

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has determined that the maximum word length for a PhD thesis is 90,000 words and 50,000 words for a Masters thesis. These word limits apply to the main thesis text only and exclude footnotes, bibliography, tables and appendices.

The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences suggests as a guideline for candidates that the length of a PhD thesis should be a maximum of 100,000 words and 50,000 words for a Masters by Research thesis, excluding bibliography and appendices.

For the Doctor of Public Health dissertation (72 units) the word limit will be a maximum of 55,000 words. 

Due to disciplinary differences, the Faculty of Science and Engineering has determined that there is no standard length of a PhD or Masters by Research thesis.


Theses are usually written in English. However, in special circumstances the thesis may be written in a foreign language especially if the student is studying in the Department of Languages. Refer to Sections 20.7 of the HDR Examination Procedures and and HDR Thesis Rules

  Publication prior to submission

If candidates have published from their thesis prior to submission, the candidate must make clear to the examiner which parts of the thesis have been used in publications, who contributed to the publication, and the nature of the candidate's contribution.

Publications arising out of work conducted during candidature may be included in the body of the thesis provided they contribute to the overall theme of the thesis and are appropriately placed within it. Extensive published papers submitted as additional evidence may be included as an appendix.