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Structure and Components

The following is a list of thesis components in the required order.  Click on the page to view formatting requirements.

The layout and contents of the title page must appear as shown on these sample title pages. The font need not be the same as in the samples.

Thesis Title

  • Give a concise, accurate description of the thesis.
  • Include key words in the title to make the thesis more easily retrievable in electronic listings.
  • Avoid using scientific formulas, Greek letters, symbols and abbreviations in thesis titles - write them out as words instead.

Student Name

  • Must be the one under which you are registered at UBC.
  • Must be the same at the top and bottom (with copyright symbol) of the title page.

Previous Academic Credentials

You may list your previous academic credentials under your name if you wish. If you list them, you must include the following:

  • the name of the credential (e.g. BSc)
  • the full name of the institution
  • the date of graduation

Degree Name

List the name of the degree (e.g. Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts).


This must be The College of Graduate Studies regardless of your home Faculty.

Program Name

The name of your graduate program must be in parentheses.

You can confirm the correct program name by checking the Student Service Centre (SSC > Course Schedule and Registration > My Program > Specialization Name). Do not put the words "Department, School, Centre, Institute, or Program" on your title page.

If your program name is included in the title of your degree, the program name in parentheses under "The College of Graduate Studies" is not required.


  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)

Campus Name

Underneath "The University of British Columbia," you must put the name of your campus, either Vancouver or Okanagan, in parentheses.


For copies for the examination committee:

  • The month and year of submission to the committee / external examiner.

    For final, post-defence submission:

  • The month and year of final submission of your defended thesis.

Copyright Symbol

The universal copyright symbol © must appear at the foot of the title page, with your name, and the year of final submission. The name must be the same at both the top and the bottom of the title page, and must be the name under which you are registered at UBC.

Creative Commons Licence

If you wish to apply a Creative Commons Licence to your thesis, you may choose a Creative Commons Licence image instead of the copyright symbol. It is your responsibility to understand what rights you are giving others when you use a Creative Commons Licence. You cannot change the CC Licence after submission.

The Committee Recommendation form lists the individuals who approve your final thesis for submission to the College of Graduate Studies.  The form:

  • Is the second page of the thesis. 
  • Lists all examining committee members.
  • Does not require signatures.
  • Must be typed.


The abstract:

  • Is a concise and accurate summary of the thesis.
  • Should state the problem, the methods of investigation, and the general conclusions.
  • Must not contain tables, graphs or illustrations.
  • Must not exceed 350 words.
  • Should contain keywords that will facilitate automated information retrieval.
  • Must be the only abstract in the thesis.


The Lay Summary:

Effective January 2018, all theses and dissertations must include a lay summary. The lay summary explains the key goals and contributions of the research/scholarly work in terms that can be understood by the general public. It does not use technical terms and discipline-specific language. It must not exceed 150 words in length.

The Preface must include only the following:

  • A statement indicating the relative contributions of all collaborators and co-authors (including supervisors and members of the supervisory committee) of publications or material submitted for publication, emphasizing details of the student's contribution and stating the proportion of research and writing conducted by the student. The statement should include details about the student's contribution to the following:

    • Identification and design of the research program.
    • Performance of the various parts of the research.
    • Analysis of the research data.
    • Preparation of manuscripts, if any.
  • A list of any publications or submissions arising from work presented in the thesis including the title of the article and name of the publisher (only if the article has been accepted or published), and the chapter(s) of the dissertation in which the work is located.
  • The name of the particular UBC Research Ethics Board, and the Certificate Number(s) of the Ethics Certificate(s) obtained, if ethics approval was required for the research.

Copyright UBC

 What to include:

  • the abstract
  • the lay summary
  • the table of contents
  • all other preliminary pages
  • the main divisions and subdivisions of the thesis
  • end notes
  • the bibliography
  • the appendices

Formatting requirements:

  • single page-wide column
  • page numbers right-aligned
  • leader lines (dots) connecting the entries with their page numbers
  • page number for each entry
  • entries in the order given on this website
  • do not put "page" in front of the page number
  • subheadings indented more than main headings, third-level headings indented more than subheadings, etc.

Help with formatting:

There are many free resources on the web to help you with creating and formatting a table of contents in Microsoft Word. Here are a few examples of resources:

Creating a table of contents in Word

How to create a table of contents by marking text in Word


If your thesis includes tables, you must include a List of Tables:

  • Tables must be listed with their numbers, titles, and page numbers.
  • Each entry must have leader lines (dots) between title and page number.
  • The list must start at the top of a new page.


If your thesis includes figures, you must include a List of Figures:

  • Figures must be listed with their numbers, titles, and page numbers.
  • Each entry must have leader lines (dots) between title and page number.
  • The list must start at the top of a new page.


If your thesis includes illustrations, symbols, or abbreviations, it is recommended that you include a list for each type:

  • Each list must start at the top of a new page.
  • Items that appear in the thesis only once must have a page number and leader lines for each entry.
  • Items that are used throughout the thesis do not need page numbers for each entry.



In this section you can:

  • Acknowledge the extent to which assistance has been given by members of staff, fellow students, data technicians, editors, and/or others.
  • Recognize the supervision and advice given by your supervisor and committee members.
  • Acknowledge colleagues with whom you have written journal articles.


The dedication is usually quite short, and is a personal rather than academic recognition.  You can use any font or language you wish for the dedication page.

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 scholar to understand them. It must contain a thorough review of relevant literature, perhaps in a separate chapter.

Note: The thesis must only contain one section titled "Introduction".

The account of the research should be presented in a manner suitable for the field and include the following:

  • A coherent structure that flows logically and smoothly from chapter to chapter.
  • A brief synopsis at the beginning of each research chapter.
  • A description of methods used, in sufficient detail to enable a reader to understand how the data were gathered and to apply similar methods in another study.
  • A complete account of the research presented in a systematic manner typical of the field of study.

Students should consult with their supervisors for further guidance about how to structure their particular thesis.

In this section, the student must demonstrate his/her mastery of the field and his/her contribution to knowledge in the broader discipline.

The section includes the following:

  • Overall analysis and integration of the research and conclusions of the thesis in light of current research in the field.
  • Conclusions regarding goals or hypotheses of the thesis that were presented in the Introduction, and the overall significance and contribution of the thesis research.
  • Comments on strengths and limitations of the thesis research.
  • Discussion of any potential applications of the research findings.
  • An analysis of possible future research directions in the field drawing on the work of the thesis.

Note: The thesis must only contain one section titled "Conclusion".

You and your supervisor should decide on the presentation of the bibliography at an early stage in the writing of the thesis, following a style guide or style of a significant refereed journal in your field.

There must be only one Bibliography/References/Works Cited section for the whole thesis.  The Bibliography:

  • Must start at the top of a page.
  • Must be listed in the table of contents.
  • Must not have a chapter number, as it is not a chapter.

Note: If you include links in your Bibliography, you must include the date on which you retrieved the material from the web.

Appendices must be limited to supporting material genuinely subsidiary to the main argument of the thesis. They must only include material that is referred to in the thesis.

The following are appropriate for inclusion in the appendices:

  • Additional details of methodology and/or data.
  • Diagrams of specialized equipment developed.
  • Copies of questionnaires or surveys used in the research.
  • Scholarly artifacts (e.g., film and other audio, visual, and graphic representations, and application-oriented documents such as policy briefs, curricula, business plans, computer and web applications, etc.) not included in the body of the thesis.

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

Each appendix must start on a new page. The titles of the appendices must be included in the table of contents.

Important: You must black out any signatures that may appear in the appendices (and in the rest of the thesis).

Copyright UBC

Last reviewed shim1/11/2018 10:26:00 AM