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Thesis, treatise or dissertation?

A thesis is broadly defined as the whole of the assessable work submitted for HDR examination, and may include previously published material, creative or artistic components, software, codes, models, and appendices. You must submit your thesis for examination in the form specified by the University. HDRAC provides clear guidelines on all submission requirements.

The main types of assessable work students may be expected to produce at the University of Sydney are theses, treatises and dissertations. These are all unique publications with different requirements. Check with your faculty for any specific provisions.

The length of your assessable work will vary depending on the approach and the subject matter, but usually:

  • A dissertation will be no longer than 20,000 words.
  • A treatise will be up to 25,000 words.
  • A thesis for a master’s degree by research will be up to 50,000 words.
  • A thesis for a doctoral degree will be up to 80,000 words.

Word limits do not include appendices.

Thesis with publications

A thesis may contain previously published material if it forms a consistent, coherent and unified whole. The published material must relate to research undertaken during the candidature, and be published by the student as sole or joint author during the candidature. The University of Sydney does not accept for examination a thesis by publication which is a collection of published material.

Thesis containing creative or artistic components

A thesis may contain artistic or creative works provided that the works are sufficiently documented or recorded for the purpose of assessment. If you present one or more pieces of creative art as part of your thesis, you may choose an exhibition followed by an oral examination as the mode of examination.


Check the University policy register, in particular:

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Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023

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