Thesis
Overview
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 or professional qualification presenting the author's research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 and findings. In some countries/universities, the word "thesis" or a cognate is used as part of a bachelor's
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 or master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 course, while "dissertation" is normally applied to a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

, while in others, the reverse is true.

The term dissertation can at times be used to describe a treatise
Treatise
A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject.-Noteworthy treatises:...

 without relation to obtaining an academic degree.
Encyclopedia
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 or professional qualification presenting the author's research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 and findings. In some countries/universities, the word "thesis" or a cognate is used as part of a bachelor's
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 or master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 course, while "dissertation" is normally applied to a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

, while in others, the reverse is true.

The term dissertation can at times be used to describe a treatise
Treatise
A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject.-Noteworthy treatises:...

 without relation to obtaining an academic degree. The term thesis is also used to refer to the central claim of an essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 or similar work.

Etymology

The word "thesis" comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 , meaning "position", and refers to an intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

 proposition
Proposition
In logic and philosophy, the term proposition refers to either the "content" or "meaning" of a meaningful declarative sentence or the pattern of symbols, marks, or sounds that make up a meaningful declarative sentence...

. "Dissertation" comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dissertātiō, meaning "discourse".

Structure

A typical thesis (or dissertation) has a title page
Title page
The title page of a book, thesis or other written work is the page at or near the front which displays its title and author, usually together with information relating to the publication of the book...

, an Abstract
Abstract (summary)
An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. When used, an abstract always appears at the beginning of a...

, a table of contents
Table of contents
A table of contents, usually headed simply "Contents" and abbreviated informally as TOC, is a list of the parts of a book or document organized in the order in which the parts appear...

, a body, comprising the various chapters (introduction, literature review, findings, etc.), and a bibliography
Bibliography
Bibliography , as a practice, is the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is also known as bibliology...

 or (more usually) a references section. They vary in their structure in line with the many different areas of study (arts, humanities, social sciences, technology, sciences, etc.) and the great differences between them.

Dissertations normally report on a research project or an extended analysis of a topic. The structure of the thesis or dissertation explains the purpose, the methods used and the findings of the project by including a series of chapters: a) an introduction, which introduces the research topic, with an explanation of why the subject was chosen for study; b) a literature review, reviewing relevant literature and showing how this has informed the research issue; c) a methodology chapter, explaining how the research has been designed and why the research methods being used have been chosen; d) a findings chapter, outlining the findings of the research itself; e) an analysis and discussion chapter, analysing the findings and discussing them in the context of the literature review (this chapter is often divided into two—analysis and discussion); f) a conclusion.

Style

Degree-awarding institutions often define their own house style that candidates have to follow when preparing a thesis document. In addition to institution-specific house styles, there exist a number of field-specific, national, and international standards and recommendations for the presentation of theses, for instance ISO 7144. Other applicable international standards include ISO 2145
ISO 2145
International standard ISO 2145 defines a typographic convention for the "numbering of divisions and subdivisions in written documents". It applies to any kind of document, including manuscripts, books, journal articles, and standards.-Description:...

 on section numbers, ISO 690
ISO 690
ISO 690 is an ISO standard for bibliographic referencing in documents of all sorts. It includes electronic documents, and specifies the elements to be included in references to published documents, and the order in which the elements of the reference should be stated...

 on bibliographic references, and ISO 31
ISO 31
International Standard ISO 31 was the most widely respected style guide for the use of physical quantities and units of measurement, and formulas involving them, in scientific and educational documents worldwide...

 on quantities or units.

Some older house styles specify that front matter (title page, abstract, table of content, etc.) uses a separate page-number sequence from the main text, using Roman numerals
Roman numerals
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...

. The relevant international standard and many newer style guides recognize that this book design
Book design
Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole....

 practice can cause confusion where electronic document viewers number all pages of a document continuously from the first page, independent of any printed page numbers. They therefore avoid the traditional separate number sequence for front matter and require a single sequence of Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals or Hindu numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals or Indo-Arabic numerals are the ten digits . They are descended from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians, in which a sequence of digits such as "975" is read as a numeral...

 starting with 1 for the first printed page (the verso of the title page).

Presentation requirements, including pagination, layout, type and color of paper, use of acid-free paper
Acid-free paper
Acid-free paper is paper that has a neutral or basic pH . It can be made from any cellulose fiber as long as the active acid pulp is eliminated during processing. It is also lignin and sulfur free...

 (where a copy of the dissertation will become a permanent part of the library collection), paper size
Paper size
Many paper size standards conventions have existed at different times and in different countries. Today there is one widespread international ISO standard and a localised standard used in North America . The paper sizes affect writing paper, stationery, cards, and some printed documents...

, order of components, and citation style, will be checked page by page by the accepting officer before the thesis is accepted and a receipt is issued. Theses that are incomplete or incorrectly formatted may not be accepted.

However, strict standards are not always required. Most Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 universities, for example, have only general requirements on the character size and the page formatting, and leave much freedom on the actual typographic details.

Literature review

A literature review examines the existing literature to discover the strengths and weakness in the literature. As well as demonstrating knowledge of existing research, a literature review should also identify gaps in the literature that the thesis as a whole is intended to fill. It provides the backdrop to, and reasons for, conducting the research.

Thesis committee

A thesis or dissertation committee is a committee that supervises a student's dissertation. This committee, consisting of a primary supervisor or advisor
Doctoral advisor
A doctoral advisor is an advanced member of a university faculty whose role is to guide a graduate student who is a candidate for a doctorate degree, helping them select coursework, as well as shaping, refining and directing the students' choice of sub-discipline...

 and two or more committee members, supervises the progress of the dissertation and may also act as the examining committee, or jury, at the oral examination of the thesis (see below).

The committee is chosen by the student in conjunction with his or her primary adviser, usually after completion of the comprehensive examination
Comprehensive examination
A comprehensive examination , often abbreviated as "comps," is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study...

s or prospectus meeting, and may consist of members of the comps committee. The committee members are doctors in their field (whether a PhD or other designation) and have the task of reading the dissertation, making suggestions for changes and improvements, and sitting in on the defense. Sometimes, at least one member of the committee must be a professor in a department that is different from that of the student.

Argentina

In the Latin American docta
Science and technology in Argentina
The most important aspects of science and technology in Argentina are concerned with medicine, nuclear physics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, space and rocket technology and several fields related to the country's main economic activities....

, the academic dissertation can be referred to different stages inside the academic program that the student is seeking to achieve into a recognized Argentine University, in all the cases the students must develop original contribution in the chosen fields by means of several paper work and essays that comprehend the body of the thesis. Correspondingly to the academic degree, the last phase of an academic thesis is called in Spanish a defensa de grado, defensa magistral or defensa doctoral in cases in which the university candidate is finalizing his or her licentiate
Licentiate
Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

, master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

, or PhD program
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

. According to a committee resolution, the dissertation can be approved or rejected by an academic committee consisting of the thesis director, the thesis coordinator, and at least one evaluator from another recognized university in which the student is pursuing his or her academic program. All the dissertation referees must already have achieved at least the academic degree that the candidate is trying to reach.

Canada

At English-speaking Canadian universities, writings presented in fulfillment of undergraduate coursework requirements are normally called papers, term papers or essays. A long paper presented for completion of a 4-year bachelor degree is sometimes called a major paper. Research-based papers presented as the final empirical study of a bachelor with honours degree are normally called bachelor thesis or honours thesis. Major papers presented as the final project for a master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 are normally called thesis; and major papers presenting the student's research towards a doctoral degree
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 are called theses or dissertations.

At some Canadian universities where French is a primary language of study, students may have a choice between presenting a "mémoire"', which is a shorter synthetic work (roughly 75 pages) and a thèse which is one hundred pages or more. A synthetic monograph associated with doctoral work is referred to as a "thèse". See also compilation thesis. Either work can be awarded a "mention d'honneur" (excellence) as a result of the decision by the examination committee, although these are rare.

A typical undergraduate thesis might be forty pages. Master's theses are approximately one hundred pages. PhD theses are usually over two hundred pages. This may vary greatly by discipline, however.

Theses Canada acquires and preserves a comprehensive collection of Canadian theses at Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada is a national memory institution dedicated to providing the best possible account of Canadian life through acquiring, preserving and making Canada's documentary heritage accessible for use in the 21st century and beyond...

' (LAC) through partnership with Canadian universities who participate in the program.

France

In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the academic dissertation or thesis is called a thèse while the word dissertation is reserved for shorter (1,000–2,000 words), more generic academic treatises. To complete a master's degree in research, a student is required to write a mémoire
Mémoire
In French culture, the word mémoire, as in un mémoire is used for a piece of writing allowing the author to show his or her opinion on a given subject, logically approaching a series of facts in order to arrive at a recommendation or conclusion...

.

Germany

In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, an academic thesis is called an Abschlussarbeit (for non-doctorate and non-Habilitation degrees) or the basic name of the degree complemented by -arbeit (e.g., Diplomarbeit, Masterarbeit, Doktorarbeit, but Habilitationsschrift not Habilitationsarbeit). Length is often given in page count and depends upon departments, faculties, and fields of study. A bachelor's thesis is often 40–60 pages long, other theses are usually even longer. The required submission for the doctorate is called a Dissertation or Doktorarbeit. The submission for the Habilitation
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

 is called Habilitationsschrift. PhD by publication is becoming increasingly common in many fields of study.

India

In India, as in Great Britain, the thesis defence is called a (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "by live voice") examination (viva in short). Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. One examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 department (but not one of the candidate's supervisors) and the other is an external examiner
External examiner
The external examiner plays an important role in all degree level examinations in higher education in the United Kingdom. The external examiner system was introduced into the UK during the 19th century, and it is therefore also found in countries whose higher education systems were developed on...

 from a different university.
In India, PG Qualifications such as M.Sc. Physics accompanies submission of dissertation in Part I and submission of a Project(a working model of an innovation) in Part II. Engineering qualifications such as BTech or B.E. or M.Tech also involves submission of dissertation. In all the cases, the dissertation can be extended for summer internship at certain research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 organizations or also as PhD synopsis.

Italy

In Italy there are normally three types of theses, in order of complexity: one for the Laurea Triennale (equivalent to the Bachelor's Degree), another one for the Laurea Specialistica (Master's Degree) and then a thesis to complete the Dottorato di Ricerca (PhD). Theses requirements vary greatly between degrees and disciplines, ranging from as low as 3-4 ECTS credits to more than 30. Thesis work is mandatory for the completion of a degree.

Pakistan

In Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, at undergraduate level the thesis is usually called final year project, as it is completed in the senior year of the degree, the name project usually implies that the work carried out is less extensive than a thesis and bears lesser credit hours too. The undergraduate level project is presented through an elaborate written report and a presentation to the advisor, a board of faculty members and students. At graduate level however, i.e. in MS, some universities allow students to accomplish a project of 6 credits or a thesis of 9 credits, at least one publication is normally considered enough for the awarding of the degree with project and is considered mandatory for the awarding of a degree with thesis. A written report and a public thesis defense is mandatory, in the presence of a board of senior researchers, consisting of members from an outside organization or a university. A PhD candidate is supposed to accomplish extensive research work to fulfill the dissertation requirements with international publications being a mandatory requirement. The defense of the research work is done publicly.

Portugal and Brazil

In Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, a dissertation (dissertação) is required for completion of a master's degree. The defense is done in a public presentation in which teachers, students, and the general public can participate. For the PhD a thesis (tese) is presented for defense in a public exam. The exam typically extends over 3 hours. The examination board typically involves 5 to 6 Professors or other experts with a PhD degree (generally at least half of them must be external to the university where the candidate defends the thesis, but may depend on the University). Each university / faculty defines the length of these documents, but typical numbers of pages are around 60–80 for MSc and 200–250 for PhD.

Russia and Ukraine

In Russia and Ukraine, an academic dissertation or thesis is called what can be literally translated as a "master's degree work" (thesis), whereas the word dissertation is reserved for doctoral theses (Candidate of Sciences). To complete a master's degree, a student is required to write a thesis of about 110–130 pages and to then defend the work publicly.

Slovenia

At universities in Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, an academic thesis called diploma thesis is a prerequisite for completing undergraduate studies. The thesis used to be 40–60 pages long, but has been reduced to 20–30 pages in new Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

 programmes. To complete Masters studies, a candidate must write magistrsko delo (Masters thesis) that is longer and more detailed than the undergraduate thesis. The required submission for the doctorate is called doktorska disertacija (doctoral dissertation). Perspective students can skip the preparation and presentation of a Masters' thesis and continue straightforward towards doctorate.

United Kingdom

Outside the academic community, the terms thesis and dissertation are interchangeable. At universities in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the term thesis is usually associated with PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

/EngD (doctoral
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

) and research master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

s, while dissertation is the more common term for a substantial project submitted as part of a taught master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 or an undergraduate degree
Undergraduate degree
An undergraduate degree is a colloquial term for an academic degree taken by a person who has completed undergraduate courses. It is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university...

 (e.g. BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

, BSc
BSC
BSC is a three-letter abbreviation that may refer to:Science and technology* Bachelor of Science , an undergraduate degree* Base Station Controller, part of a mobile phone network; see: Base Station subsystem...

, BMus, BEd
Bed
A bed is a large piece of furniture used as a place to sleep, relax, or engage in sexual relations.Most modern beds consist of a mattress on a bed frame, with the mattress resting either on a solid base, often wooden slats, or a sprung base...

, BEng
Beng
Beng may refer to:*Beng Spies, a voice actor*Kwek Leng Beng , Singaporean billionaire*Lim Eng Beng , former Philippine Basketball Association player*Ong Beng Hee , professional squash player...

 etc.).

Individual departments and faculties set thesis word lengths. Theses in the humanities and social sciences are typically 80,000–100,000 words, with theses in the sciences being roughly half that length. The length of an undergraduate or master's dissertation varies considerably, but is almost always between 8,000 and 25,000 words.

However, inside the academic community, the terms thesis and dissertation have very specific meanings. A thesis is an argument that is created and then tested through research. A dissertation, however, is the document that records this research and is submitted as evidence by an applicant for an academic qualification.

United States

In some U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 doctoral programs, the term "dissertation" can refer to the major part of the student's total time spent (along with two or three years of classes), and may take years of full-time work to complete. At most universities, dissertation is the term for the required submission for the doctorate, and thesis refers only to the master's degree requirement.

Thesis is also used to describe a cumulative project for a bachelor's degree, and is more common at selective colleges and universities, or for those seeking admittance to graduate school or to obtain an honors
Latin honors
Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of academic distinction with which an academic degree was earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, Canada, and in many countries of continental Europe, though some institutions also use the English translation of these...

 academic designation. These are called "senior projects" or "senior theses;" they are generally done in the senior year near graduation after having completed other courses, the independent study period, and the internship and/or student teaching period (the completion of most of the requirements before the writing of the paper ensures adequate knowledge and aptitude for the challenge). Unlike a dissertation or master's thesis, they are not as long, they do not require a novel contribution to knowledge, or even a very narrow focus on a set subtopic. Like them, they can be lengthy and require months of work, they require supervision by at least one professor adviser, they must be focused on a certain area of knowledge, and they must use an appreciable amount of scholarly citations. They may or may not be defended before a committee, but usually are not; there is generally no preceding examination before the writing of the paper save for at a very few colleges. Because of the nature of the graduate thesis or dissertation having to be more narrow and more novel, the result of original research, these usually have a smaller proportion of the work that is cited from other sources, though the fact that they are lengthier may mean they still have more total citations.

Specific undergraduate courses, especially writing-intensive courses and/or courses taken by upperclassmen, may also require one or more extensive written assignments referred to variously as theses, essays, or papers. Increasingly, high schools are requiring students to complete a senior project or senior thesis on a chosen topic during the final year as a prerequisite for graduation.

Generally speaking, a dissertation is judged as to whether or not it makes an original and unique contribution to scholarship. Lesser projects (a master's thesis, for example) are judged by whether or not they demonstrate mastery of available scholarship in the presentation of an idea.

Thesis examinations

One of the requirements for certain advanced degrees is often an oral examination. This examination normally occurs after the dissertation is finished but before it is submitted to the university, and may comprise a presentation by the student and questions posed by an examining committee or jury. In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, an initial oral examination in the field of specialization may take place just before the student settles down to work on the dissertation. An additional oral exam may take place after the dissertation is completed and is known as a thesis or dissertation "defense," which at some universities may be a mere formality and at others may result in the student's being required to make significant revisions. In the UK and certain other English-speaking countries, an oral examination is called a viva voce.

Examination results

The result of the examination may be given immediately following deliberation by the examiners (in which case the candidate may immediately be considered to have received his or her degree), or at a later date, in which case the examiners may prepare a defence report that is forwarded to a Board or Committee of Postgraduate Studies, which then officially recommends the candidate for the degree.

Potential decisions (or "verdicts") include:
  • Accepted / pass with no corrections.
The thesis is accepted as presented. A grade may be awarded, though in many countries PhDs are not graded at all, and in others only one of the theoretically possible grades (the highest) is ever used in practice.

  • The thesis must be revised.
Revisions (for example, correction of numerous grammatical or spelling errors; clarification of concepts or methodology; addition of sections) are required. One or more members of the jury and/or the thesis supervisor will make the decision on the acceptability of revisions and provide written confirmation that they have been satisfactorily completed. If, as is often the case, the needed revisions are relatively modest, the examiners may all sign the thesis with the verbal understanding that the candidate will review the revised thesis with his or her supervisor before submitting the completed version.

  • Extensive revision required.
The thesis must be revised extensively and undergo the evaluation and defense process again from the beginning with the same examiners. Problems may include theoretical or methodological issues. A candidate who is not recommended for the degree after the second defense must normally withdraw from the program.

  • Unacceptable.
The thesis is unacceptable and the candidate must withdraw from the program.

This verdict is given only when the thesis requires major revisions and when the examination makes it clear that the candidate is incapable of making such revisions.


At most North American institutions the latter two verdicts are extremely rare, for two reasons. First, to obtain the status of doctoral candidates, graduate students typically write a qualifying examination or comprehensive examination, which often includes an oral defense. Students who pass the qualifying examination are deemed capable of completing scholarly work independently and are allowed to proceed with working on a dissertation. Second, since the thesis supervisor (and the other members of the advisory committee) will normally have reviewed the thesis extensively before recommending the student proceed to the defense, such an outcome would be regarded as a major failure not only on the part of the candidate but also by the candidate's supervisor (who should have recognized the substandard quality of the dissertation long before the defense was allowed to take place). It is also fairly rare for a thesis to be accepted without any revisions; the most common outcome of a defense is for the examiners to specify minor revisions (which the candidate typically completes in a few days or weeks).

On the other hand, at universities on the British pattern it is not uncommon for theses to be failed at the viva stage, in which case either a major rewrite is required, followed by a new viva, or the thesis may be awarded the lesser degree of M.Phil (Master of Philosophy
Master of Philosophy
The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research degree.An M.Phil. is a lesser degree than a Doctor of Philosophy , but in many cases it is considered to be a more senior degree than a taught Master's degree, as it is often a thesis-only degree. In some instances, an M.Phil...

) instead, preventing the candidate from resubmitting the thesis.

Australia

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, doctoral theses are usually examined by three examiners although some, like the Australian Catholic University, have shifted to using only two examiners; without a live defense except in extremely rare exceptions. In the case of a Master's Degree by research the thesis is usually examined by only two examiners. Typically one of these examiners will be from within the candidate's own department; the other(s) will usually be from other universities and often from overseas. Following submission of the thesis, copies are sent by mail to examiners and then reports sent back to the institution.

Similar to a Master's Degree by research thesis, a thesis for the research component of a Master's Degree by coursework is also usually examined by two examiners, one from the candidate's department and one from another university. Theses for Honours degrees in three-year Bachelor courses are also examined by two examiners, though both are usually from the candidate's own deparment. Honours and Master's by coursework thesis also require an oral defence before they are accepted.

Germany

In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, a thesis is often examined with an oral defense (Verteidigung), also called Disputation.
This applies to many diploma degrees and to almost all Magister
Magister (degree)
Magister is an academic degree used in various systems of higher education.-Argentina:...

, master's and doctoral degrees, but usually not to bachelor's degrees. The minimum word count varies but is usually between 15,000 to 17,500 words. Masters Degrees sometimes dictate that 30,000 words must be written.

Portugal

In Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, a thesis is examined with an oral defense, which includes an initial presentation by the candidate followed by an extensive questioning/answering period. Typical duration for the total exam is 1 hour 30 minutes for the MSc and 3 hours for the PhD.

North America

In North America, the thesis defense or oral defense is the final examination for doctoral
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 candidates, and sometimes for master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 candidates.

The examining committee normally consists of the thesis committee, usually a given number of professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

s mainly from the student's university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 plus his or her primary supervisor, an external examiner
External examiner
The external examiner plays an important role in all degree level examinations in higher education in the United Kingdom. The external examiner system was introduced into the UK during the 19th century, and it is therefore also found in countries whose higher education systems were developed on...

 (someone not otherwise connected to the university), and a chair person. Each committee member will have been given a completed copy of the dissertation prior to the defense, and will come prepared to ask questions about the thesis itself and the subject matter. In many schools, master's thesis defenses are restricted to the examinee and the examiners, but doctoral defenses are open to the public.

The typical format will see the candidate giving a short (20–40 minute) presentation of his or her research, followed by one to two hours of questions.

At some U.S. institutions, a longer public lecture (known as a "thesis talk" or "thesis seminar") by the candidate will accompany the defense itself, in which case only the candidate, the examiners, and other members of the faculty may attend the actual defense.

United Kingdom, Ireland and Hong Kong

In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 and the United Kingdom, the thesis defense is called a (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "by live voice") examination (viva for short). Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. Usually, one examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 department (but not one of the candidate's supervisors) and the other is an external examiner
External examiner
The external examiner plays an important role in all degree level examinations in higher education in the United Kingdom. The external examiner system was introduced into the UK during the 19th century, and it is therefore also found in countries whose higher education systems were developed on...

 from a different university.

In the United Kingdom, there are only two or at most three examiners, and the examination is in many universities strictly in private—however, in the University of Oxford, at least, in theory any member of the University may attend a DPhil viva (the University's regulations require that details of the examination and its time and place be published formally in advance) provided he or she attends in full academic dress. Also, in the UK, the candidate's primary supervisor is not permitted to ask questions during the viva, and their presence is not necessary.

Submission of the thesis

A submission of the thesis is the last formal requirement for most students after the defense. By the final deadline
Time limit
A time limit or deadline is a narrow field of time, or particular point in time, by which an objective or task must be accomplished.In project management, deadlines are most often associated with milestone goals....

, the student must submit a complete copy of the thesis to the appropriate body within the accepting institution, along with the appropriate forms, bearing the signatures of the primary supervisor, the examiners, and, in some cases, the head of the student's department. Other required forms may include library authorizations (giving the university library permission to make the thesis available as part of its collection) and copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 permissions (in the event that the student has incorporated copyrighted materials in the thesis). Many large scientific publishing houses (e.g. Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis Group is an international company originating in the United Kingdom which publishes books and academic journals. It is a division of Informa plc, a United Kingdom-based publisher and conference company.- Overview :...

, Elsevier
Elsevier
Elsevier is a publishing company which publishes medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group. Based in Amsterdam, the company has operations in the United Kingdom, USA and elsewhere....

) use copyright agreements that allow the authors to incorporate their published articles into dissertations without separate authorization.

Failure to submit the thesis by the deadline may result in graduation (and granting of the degree) being delayed. At most U.S. institutions, there will also be various fees (for binding, microfilming, copyright registration, and the like), which must be paid before the degree will be granted.

Once all the paperwork is in order, copies of the thesis may be made available in one or more university libraries. Specialist abstracting services exist to publicize the content of these beyond the institutions in which they are produced.

See also

  • Comprehensive examination
    Comprehensive examination
    A comprehensive examination , often abbreviated as "comps," is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study...

  • Dissertations Abstracts
    Dissertations Abstracts
    Dissertation Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts International or the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database is a bibliography of American dissertations published by University Microfilms International / ProQuest, Ann Arbor, since 1938...

  • Grey literature
  • Postgraduate education
    Postgraduate education
    Postgraduate education involves learning and studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of higher education...

  • Compilation thesis

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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