Thesis outline template

Title page
Declaration of originality
Completion statement by supervisor

Abstract (Need to check with the University’s exact requirements. These are indicative only.)
List of figures, tables etc.
Acknowledgements (This should be written well before submission so that the student has a chance to review it several times. It would be very bad form to miss somebody important out!)


The preface provides an opportunity to write a personal story to the examiners. Here the student can outline any particular issues that occurred prior to or during candidature which may have influenced the direction and/or completion of the research in any significant way. The student can also provide them with ‘instructions’, such as how they should regard the thesis.

Ideally the thesis proper should be professionally written in formal tone, rather than being a personal story. If the student needs to ‘unload’ or shed personal baggage, it should be done in the Preface. If necessary, the preface should be written early so that the student can get on with writing the thesis. Remember to always go back to review the Preface.

Abbreviations/Glossary (if applicable)

Chapter 1: Introduction

The introduction overviews the whole thesis. Everything is in the introduction (in brief) – the rest of the thesis is just the evidence to support the argument. The introduction sets the scene (the research context and problem context) and establishes why it is an issue worthy of research. The research question and any aims/objectives should be clearly stated. The scope and context of the research should be clearly identified (especially if the student is constraining themselves to one particular interpretation when there could be more than one theoretical perspective applied).

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The literature review is where the student positions him or herself within the discipline to which he or she is making a contribution. The student should also address each of the discourses mentioned in the Research Overview.

Chapter 3: Methodology

Chapter 4: Results

Chapter 5: Discussion

Chapter 6: Conclusion

HINT: The list of hypotheses and recommendations from the Overview should be a big help in writing the Conclusion.


Denholm, C. and Evans, T. 2006. Doctorates Downunder: Keys to successful doctoral study in Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne: ACER Press.
Evans, D. and Gruba, P. 2002. How to write a better thesis (2nd edn), Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

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