1. Title page


  1. Abstract (required – maximum 350 words)

The abstract is a concise and accurate summary of the research described in the document. It states the problem, the methods of investigation, and the general conclusions, and should not contain tables, graphs, complex equations, or illustrations. There is a single abstract for the entire work, and it must not exceed 350 words in length.

  1. Preface

The Preface must include a statement indicating the student’s contribution to the following: Identification and design of the research program, Performance of the various parts of the research and Analysis of the research data.

Certain additional elements may also be required, as specified below.

  • If any of the work presented in the thesis has led to any publications or submissions, all of these must be listed in the Preface. Bibliographic details should include the title of the article and the name of the publisher (if the article has been accepted or published), and the chapter(s) of the thesis in which the associated work is located.
  • If the work includes publications or material submitted for publication, the statement described above must detail the relative contributions of all collaborators and co-authors (including supervisors and members of the supervisory committee) and state the proportion of research and writing conducted by the student.
  • If ethics approval was required for the research, the Preface must name the responsible UBC Research Ethics Board, and report the project title(s) and the Certificate Number(s) of the Ethics Certificate(s) applicable to the project.

In a thesis where the research was not subject to ethics review, produced no publications, and was designed, carried out, and analyzed by the student alone, the text of the Preface may be very brief. Samples are available on this website and in the University Library’s online repository of accepted theses.

The content of the Preface must be verified by the student’s supervisor, whose endorsement must appear on the final Thesis/Dissertation Approval form.

  1. Table of contents (required)
  2. List of tables (required if document has tables)
  3. List of figures (required if document has figures)
  4. List of illustrations (required if document has illustrations)
  5. Lists of symbols, abbreviations or other (advisable if applicable)
  6. Glossary (optional)
  7. Acknowledgements (optional)

Students may include a brief statement acknowledging the contribution to their research and studies from various sources, including (but not limited to)

  • Their research supervisor and committee,
  • Funding agencies,
  • Fellow students, and
  • Family
  1. Dedication (optional)
  2. Document Body

The text of the thesis must contain the following elements, presented to conform with the standards and expectations of the relevant academic discipline.

  1. a) Introduction.

The thesis must clearly state its theme, hypotheses and/or goals (sometimes called “the research question(s)”), and provide sufficient background information to enable a non-specialist researcher to understand them. It must contain a thorough review of relevant literature, perhaps in a separate chapter.

  1. b) Literature review

Often part of the Introduction, but can be a separate section. It is an evaluation of previous research on your topic, where you show that there is a gap in the knowledge that your research will attempt to fill.


  1. c) Methods

Often the easiest part of the thesis to write. Outlines which method you chose and why (your methodology); what, when, where, how and why you did what you did to get your results.

  1. d) Results

Outlines what you found out in relation to your research questions or hypotheses, presented in figures and in written text. Results contain the facts of your research. Often you will include a brief comment on the significance of key results, with the expectation that more generalised comments about results will be made in the Discussion section. Sometimes Results and Discussion are combined: check with your supervisor and with highly rated past theses in your School.

  1. e) Discussion

The Discussion section: comments on your results; explains what your results mean; interprets your results in a wider context; indicates which results were expected or unexpected; provides explanations for unexpected results. The Discussion should also relate your specific results to previous research or theory. You should point out what the limitations were of your study, and note any questions that remain unanswered. The Discussion CAN also include Conclusions/Future Research. Check with your supervisor.

  1. f) In this section the student must demonstrate his/her mastery of the field and describe the work’s overall contribution to the broader discipline in context. A strong conclusion includes the following:
  • Conclusions regarding the goals or hypotheses presented in the Introduction,
  • Reflective analysis of the research and its conclusions in light of current knowledge in the field,
  • Comments on the significance and contribution of the research reported,
  • Comments on strengths and limitations of the research,
  • Discussion of any potential applications of the research findings, and
  • A description of possible future research directions, drawing on the work reported.

A submission’s success in addressing the expectations above is appropriately judged by an expert in the relevant discipline. Students should rely on their research supervisors and committee members for guidance. Doctoral students should also take into account the expectations articulated in the University’s “Instructions for Preparing the External Examiner’s Report”.

  1. Bibliography (mandatory)

There must be only one Bibliography or References section for the whole thesis.

  1. Appendices

Appendices must be limited to supporting material genuinely subsidiary to the main argument of the work. They must only include material that is referred to in the document. Material suitable for inclusion in appendices includes the following:

  • Additional details of methodology and/or data.
  • Diagrams of specialized equipment developed.
  • Copies of questionnaires or surveys used in the research.

Do not include copies of the Ethics Certificates in the Appendices.


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