Scope, structure and formatting

Although a thesis or dissertation will be checked at the time of submission, it is your responsibility to ensure that the copies meet the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the University of Victoria repository (UVicSpace) and your academic department.

Thesis and dissertation structure

For an overview of the purpose and scope of your thesis or dissertation, see the university calendar entries for master's theses and doctoral dissertations.

You should also check the sample thesis timeline. It outlines the activities required to complete a thesis and the proposed sequence of activities, and the guide to completing a thesis or project proposal. These useful tools will help you plan and organize your thoughts and ideas, as well as understanding the purpose of a proposal.

Formatting requirements

The Faculty of Graduate Studies formatting requirements for theses and dissertations are outlined below.  You are responsible for ensuring that the final document conforms to these formatting standards and you should consult your supervisor regarding additional departmental requirements. Both an MSWord template and a LaTex template are made available.  Use of these templates is voluntary and does not ensure approval of the format of your thesis/dissertation by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  We are not able to offer technical assistance with the templates.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies does not have formatting requirements for Master's projects (non-thesis programs), so departmental formatting standards apply.

The parts of the thesis/dissertation occur in the order given below, although not every thesis/dissertation will include all the items mentioned. Except for the title page, all preliminary pages should be numbered with lower case Roman numerals.

Title page

Each copy of the thesis/dissertation must have a title page. The form of the title page must follow that of the sample pages for theses or dissertations. It must have the:

  • title in mixed upper and lower case letters,
    • Your thesis title should appear as mixed case, using the appropriate capitalization for proper names and the first word of the title.

      A record of your thesis or dissertation will be included in the UVic Library catalogue. The UVic Library catalogue is now Unicode compliant and will display properly formulae, symbols, Greek letters or other non-alphabetical characters. In cases where Unicode will not display symbols and non-alphabetic characters used correctly, write the title out using words and include on the bottom of the abstract page.

      For example:

      Surface and colloid chemical studies of γ ferric oxide dispersions
      Surface and colloid chemical studies of gamma ferric oxide dispersions

      Chromosomal localization of the α- and β-globulin of the chicken, Gallus domesticus
      Chromosomal localization of the alpha- and beta-globulin of the chicken, Gallus domesticus

  • year of submission,
  • degree expected,
  • candidate's name in full (no initials),
    • The form of your name on the title page must be consistent with that on file with the Graduate Admissions and Records Office

  • the statement referring to the degree and content as shown on the sample pages (eg. A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Linguistics).  This statement should match the degree and department of the candidate.
  • previous degrees (subjects or designations such as "honours" or "major" are not permitted), and
  • the copyright notice (©) consisting of three elements:
    • the letter C enclosed in a circle [i.e. ©]
    • the name of the copyright owner (in this case it is the author)
    • the year
  • The name of the University, i.e. University of Victoria

This is followed by the statement: "All rights reserved. This thesis may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by photocopy or other means, without the permission of the author."

Preliminary pages (following the title page)

Supervisory committee

The second page of the document should be a list of your supervisory committee, giving title, full name (first and last), and the department (in paretheses) indicated in the University of Victoria Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar.
Example: Dr. Robert N. Tracey (Department of English)


The names of the student’s supervisory committee must be typed at the top of the abstract. The abstract is a summary of the thesis/dissertation; it states the problem, the method of investigation employed, and the general conclusions. It should not exceed 500 words. For publication in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, the abstract will be edited to 350 words for PhDs and 150 words for master’s theses.

Table of contents

Each thesis/dissertation must have a table of contents setting out all the principal topics or sub-divisions (including the bibliography, any appendices, and the index, if provided), and all preliminary pages. The table of contents is itself part of the contents and should be listed.

List of tables

The next separate section, typed on a page or pages by itself, is the list of tables, if any appear in the text. For each table, the number of the table and its exact caption or title, the number of the text page on which it appears, are to be given. Each individual table should be identified with the word "table" and its corresponding number.

List of figures or illustrations

If any illustrations or graphs are used, they are listed separately and numbered. If there are several illustrations of one kind (e.g., maps or charts) it is proper to have a distinct series for each group or type—separately listed and numbered. Each individual figure or illustration should be identified with the word "figure" or "illustration" and its corresponding number.

Acknowledgements (optional)

This section, which may be omitted, should be a brief acknowledgment of assistance given to the candidate in the preparation of the thesis/dissertation. It is numbered amongst the preliminary pages and included in the table of contents.

Dedication and/or frontispiece (option)

If it is included, it follows the acknowledgment, is numbered amongst the preliminary pages, and is listed in the table of contents.

Main text


This section should present the purpose, methods, and scope of the investigation undertaken. It is numbered in Arabic numerals and included in the table of contents.

Including previously published materials

The thesis/dissertation may include materials already published by the candidate, whether alone or in conjunction with others.  Previously published materials must be integrated into the thesis/dissertation while at the same time distinguishing the student's own work from the work of other researchers.  Supervisors should be consulted about the placement of manuscripts in the thesis/dissertation and the how to address the significance of each manuscript in the preparation of the body of work.  At the final oral examination, the candidate is responsible for the entire content of the thesis/dissertation, including those portions of co-authored papers comprising part of the thesis/dissertation.


Footnotes may be numbered throughout the thesis/dissertation, or throughout each chapter. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page.

Endnotes may be placed at the end of each chapter, or at the end of the entire main body. However, a consistent style for footnotes/endnotes must be followed throughout. The candidate’s academic unit is expected to require the student to adhere to the style manual suited to the discipline.

Reference materials

Bibliography (or literature cited)

The bibliography is a very important part of the thesis/dissertation and care should be given to its preparation. The candidate should follow the style manual required by their academic unit. If no guide is presented, a minimum standard is typed single-spaced, with one and a half spaces between the entries. Journal titles should be spelled out in full.


If any appendices are required, they follow the bibliography and are paged consecutively.


If an index is provided, it follows any appendices and is paged consecutively.

Style guidelines

Some academic units recommend the use of a style guide appropriate for the discipline. Where a style guide has not been recommended, check with your supervisors.

Education American Psychological Association Style Guide
English Modern Language Association Style Manual
Germanic Studies Modern Language Association Style Manual
History Turabian Guide
Child and Youth Care American Psychological Association Style Guide
Dispute Resolution American Psychologyical Association Style Guide
Psychology American Psychological Association Style Guide

Additional resources

Resources to assist you in meeting scope, structure and formatting requirements:

Professional development
Three Minute Thesis (3MT)
Graduate Students' Society

Program information