Final versions of all UBC Okanagan theses must be approved by the College of Graduate Studies and must conform to the specifications given here in order to:

  • Comply with the technical requirements of the UBC Library and Library and Archives Canada.
  • Ensure that UBC theses and dissertations are consistent, professional, and of the highest quality.

The resources below are designed to help students meet these specifications. Students are encouraged to review the resources early in the writing of their thesis, and use them to check their thesis before submitting it to the College of Graduate Studies.

On this page:


A thesis at the doctoral level is called a dissertation, but dissertations and theses are usually referred to collectively as theses. There are some differences between a master’s and a doctoral thesis:

  • A master’s thesis must demonstrate that the student knows the background and principal works of the research area, and can produce significant scholarly work. It should contain some original contribution whenever possible.
  • A doctoral dissertation must contain a substantial contribution of new knowledge to the field of study. It presents the results and an analysis of original research, and should be significant enough to be published.

In most fields, a doctoral dissertation will range from 60,000 to 80,000 words in length, exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, and appendices. As a courtesy to examiners, if the dissertation will be over 100,000 words long the student or supervisor must notify the College of Graduate Studies when the Notice of Doctoral Dissertation Oral Examination is submitted.

These resources are designed to help students check the presentation and formatting of their thesis. Students should review the resources early in the writing of their thesis, and use them to check their thesis before submitting it to the College of Graduate Studies.

Structure & Components

The following components are listed in order as they should be presented within your thesis.

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-defense 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 License

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

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.
  • If copyrighted materials are included in the thesis, they need to be documented here. Please check the requirements in the “Copyright” section below.

If your thesis does not contain any of the above, you do not need to include a preface in your thesis.

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 under Structure & Components
  • do not put “page” in front of the page number
  • subheadings indented more than main headings, third-level headings indented more than subheadings, etc.

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.

If your thesis includes terms that are not immediately obvious to the average reader, it is recommended that you include a glossary to list all terms used in your thesis.

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”. (Please see an exemption for published material in the “Including Published Material in a Thesis or Dissertation section below). 

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 their 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”. (Please see an exemption for published material in the “Including Published Material in a Thesis or Dissertation section below). 

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. (Please see an exemption for published material in the “Including Published Material in a Thesis or Dissertation section below). 

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).

Some theses and dissertations may consist in part or primarily of multimedia components.

Supplementary material must be relevant to the thesis work and usually consists of electronic material or multimedia that cannot easily be included in the PDF of your thesis.

If you are submitting a thesis or dissertation that contains multimedia and/or supplementary material (i.e. you are submitting more files than a single pdf), you must create a “List of Submitted Files” in addition to the required thesis components listed above (as applicable).  The “List of Submitted Files” should follow the List of Tables and List of Figures.  Ensure that the “List of Submitted Files” is included in the Table of Contents.”

Style & Formatting

Choose a style guide approved by your supervisor or graduate program, or follow the print style of a significant refereed journal publication in your field of study. By choosing a style guide, you ensure consistent style and formatting of your thesis.

The style guide determines the format for the following:

  1. Headings and subheadings.
  2. The referencing system throughout the thesis/project.
  3. The list of references at the end of your work (bibliography, works cited, etc.).
  4. The formatting and labeling of all tables.
  5. The format for the captions for all figures.

If there is a conflict between the instructions in these guidelines and the style guide chosen, these guidelines must be followed.

You and your supervisor are responsible for ensuring that your thesis meets the formatting requirements.

Font choice:

  • Must be appropriate for an academic paper.
  • Must use the same font throughout the thesis.


  • 10 to 12 point font in Times New Roman or Arial for main text.
  • At least 6 point font in tables and figures.


  • Must be black throughout, except for web links.


Please use italics sparingly, and bear in mind that they are not very effective for distinguishing headings.

Numbering chapters, headings and subheadings is not mandatory, but the heading levels must be clearly distinguished and consistent. If you do number the headings, the numbering must be sequential and accurate. Please use bolding or a larger font to ensure they are easy to find. Italics are not as effective, as they do not reproduce as clearly on a screen.

Capitalization of same-level headings must be consistent. You can use title case or sentence case, but must use the same case for all headings of the same level. This also applies to captions of tables, figures, etc.

It is not necessary to have running headers or footers in your thesis, other than for page numbers. If you wish, you can use one with page titles (for the preliminary pages), chapter titles (and chapter numbers, if applicable), but you must be consistent throughout the thesis. Information other than this is not acceptable in a header or footer. The running header must be placed top centre or top right-justified.

The whole thesis, including the table of contents, must be in a single, page-wide column. Do not use two or more columns in your thesis.

The text of the thesis must be in paragraph form.

  • The first line of each paragraph must be indented, or
  • There must be a larger space between paragraphs than there is between lines.

Each chapter must start at the top of a new page.

Please ensure your margins are consistent throughout the document.

The left margin should be a recommended 1.25 inches (32 mm) for binding; 1 inch minimum.

The right, top, and bottom margins should be a recommended 1 inch; 0.75 inches (19 mm) minimum.

Please ensure spacing is consistent throughout the document.

  • Lines of text must be 1.5 or double spaced.
  • Quotations of more than one line can be single-spaced.
  • Acknowledgements, footnotes, table, figure and illustration captions and the bibliography can be single-spaced, provided that individual entries are separated by a full space.
Preliminary Pages:
  • Must be numbered in lower case Roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.).
  • The title page is “i” but this number must not appear on the page.
  • Numbering begins at “ii” on the Committee Recommendation Form.
Body of thesis:
  • Must be numbered in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • The first page of the text is “1”.
  • Subsequent pages are numbered continuously throughout, including pages with tables and figures, bibliographies, appendices, and index.
Whole thesis:
  • Every page except the title page must have a number on it.
  • There must be no blank pages in the thesis.
  • Page number sequence and completeness will be checked at final submission.

Page numbers:

  • Must be placed at least .5 inches (12 mm) from the edge of the page.
  • May be either in the lower centre or on the top or lower right of the page, when the page is viewed in portrait view. Lower right is preferred.

Landscape pages must be orientated in your PDF so that they are readable without rotation. You do not need to change the location or orientation of the page number, but may if you wish.

Facing pages are not acceptable. If the caption for a figure, table, etc., cannot appear on the same page as its accompanying illustration, place the illustration on a separate page after the caption.

Tables, figures and illustrations must be identified with the word “Table”, “Figure”, or other appropriate descriptor, and include a title and/or caption.

You must use a consistent format for titles and captions of tables, figures and illustrations throughout the thesis.

  • Lettering in tables and figures should be at least 2 mm high to ensure that the information is easy to read.
  • Tables and figures must have titles or captions, and must be numbered.
  • Headings must be repeated on the second and subsequent pages of tables that split over two pages or more.
  • Tables should be split at an appropriate place, e.g. just before a new subheading.
  • The format for titles and captions of tables, figures and illustrations must be consistent throughout the thesis.

Tables, figures, illustrations and other such items must be numbered consecutively in order of appearance within the thesis.

There are two methods for numbering Tables, Figures and other items:

  • Sequentially throughout the thesis, e.g. 1, 2, 3…
  • Chapter number first, then numbered sequentially within each chapter, e.g.:

Tables in Chapter 1: Table 1.1, 1.2, 1.3…

Figures in Chapter 3: Figure 3.1, 3.2, 3.3…

Whichever method you choose, the numbering style must be the same for both Tables and Figures; for example: Table 1.1 and Figure 1.3, or Table 1 and Figure 3, not Table 1 and Figure 1.3.


There are three acceptable locations for tables and figures:

  • Within the chapter immediately following first reference to them.
  • Grouped at the end of the relevant chapter.
  • Grouped at the end of the thesis before the bibliography.

Whichever method you choose, you must be consistent.

If the caption for a figure, table, etc., will not fit on the same page as its accompanying illustration, place the illustration on a separate page.

Use of Colour

You can use colour in tables, figures, and illustrations.

Reproducing and Reducing

Copying and/or reducing the size of figures (e.g. charts, drawings, graphs, photographs, maps, etc.) may make certain images illegible. After reduction, all lettering must be large enough to fulfill the font size requirements, and must be clear and readable.

You and your supervisor should decide on the form and location of footnotes at an early stage in the writing of the thesis, following a style guide or style of a significant refereed journal in your field. Please ensure you use a consistent approach to the form and location of notes and footnotes.

Notes and footnotes must be numbered consecutively throughout the thesis.

Three possible locations:

  • at the bottom of pages
  • at the end of chapters
  • at the end of the main body of the text immediately preceding the bibliography

Whenever possible, students should submit preferred file formats.

Students may use .zip files to upload other file formats; however, please note that .zip files create accessibility barriers for people using screen readers.  It is highly recommended that .zip files are only used when necessary.

While cIRcle can technically accept most file formats, preferred formats are those that have the most capacity to support access and preservation.  Submitting anything other than preferred file formats may result in a failure of long-term preservation and access to your thesis/dissertation.


Please see the Library’s Copyright Educational Resources Theses and Dissertations Guide. For help with understanding copyright for your thesis, contact


If submitted manuscripts or published articles are to be included as research chapters in your thesis/dissertation, details about the material (e.g., publication status, journal information) must be included in the Preface.

Regardless of the publication status (i.e., submitted, under review, accepted, published), the material can be presented in its current format* in the thesis/dissertation. However, for each published article, it is the responsibility of the student to check the journal’s policy for including the material in a thesis/dissertation. Some journals require no action on your part, whereas others require a written request for permission to include the material. Failure to obtain the necessary permission(s) could result in legal action against the student.

Although it is not necessary to revise submitted manuscripts or published articles for the thesis/dissertation, it is still a requirement that the thesis/dissertation has general Introduction and Conclusion sections that address the entire document. While it is expected there will be some overlap between these sections and the Introduction and Discussion of each research chapter, the text must be original and must convey clearly how the separate research chapters represent a cohesive body of work. While not a formal requirement, bridging text between research chapters is an effective way to maintain the narrative thread.

*It is at the discretion of the student’s supervisory committee whether the abstract should be included and whether the thesis/dissertation has a single bibliography/reference list following the general Conclusion or a separate bibliography/reference list at the end of each chapter.

The student should adjust the font style and size to ensure that only one style and size is used throughout the main text of the thesis/dissertation.

Electronic theses are subject to the same copyright protection as paper documents. You hold copyright to your theses regardless of the method of submission.

You own the copyright to your thesis as a whole and are free to publish your thesis if you wish. If your thesis includes any work (e.g. figures, tables, etc.) which is copyrighted to another party, you may need their permission to publish.


Any research or study conducted at UBC facilities (including UBC’s affiliated hospitals) or undertaken by persons connected to the University that involves human subjects, animals, bio-hazardous materials, or potential environmental impact must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate UBC research ethics board. This must be done before you start your research.

Please visit the Office of Research Services for more information regarding how to apply for approval.

The numbers of the UBC Certificates of Ethical Approval for all research reported in your thesis must be listed in the Preface. Please include the number of the original certificate pertaining to the research in your thesis, and the numbers of the certificates for any significant changes or additions that were approved.

NOTE: Please do not include copies of certificates in your thesis.

The final copy of your thesis must be free of all personal information as defined in the Privacy Act.

Signatures are considered to be personal information, and must be removed from the final copy of the thesis.

Plagiarism is intellectual theft. It occurs when an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as their own. This applies to draft work and oral presentations as well as to final submissions. Failing to properly cite the work of another also constitutes plagiarism, even if it is accidental.

Plagiarism by graduate students will be reported to the College of Graduate Studies. For complete details on the process and disciplinary procedures, download the document Dealing with Plagiarism by Graduate Students.

You are responsible for understanding what constitutes plagiarism, and for ensuring that you do not commit any act of plagiarism under any circumstances.

Additional resources to help you understand plagiarism:

Other Helpful Tools & Information

Scholarly research and communication is enhanced when research inputs in addition to the final polished culmination (thesis, dissertation, or other manuscript or scholarly product) are made available and connected to the final scholarly product. 

Learn more

The College of Graduate Studies has worked with Dr. Yves Lucet to develop a LaTeX format that meets the requirements of the College of Graduate Studies.

Note: the College of Graduate Studies offers this template as information only, and using the template does not guarantee a successful final submission. We are not able to offer technical assistance.

LyX is an open-source, full-featured document processor that has all the advantages of LaTeX (structured approach, seamless citations, cross-referencing, indexing, etc) and is built closely on top of LaTeX but offers an easy to use, graphical interface. You don’t need to know as much LaTeX code in order to use the LyX template.

Note: the College of Graduate Studies offers this template as information only, and using the template does not guarantee a successful final submission. We are not able to offer technical assistance.

Turnitin is a suite of tools for improving student writing that includes ways of checking the originality of the writing to prevent plagiarism and providing detailed instructor and peer feedback for each student.

Theses must be written in English; however, Interdisciplinary Studies (IGS) students who are registered in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies may be approved to write the thesis in French.

The following regulations apply to theses written in French:

  • The oral examination will be conducted in French.
  • The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies must ensure the requisite supervisory committee members, with the necessary language background and familiarity with the field of French literature, are available to supervise the thesis. It is the responsibility of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies to ensure there are sufficient faculty members, with no conflict of interest, to participate on supervisory committees and as University Examiner and Neutral Chair.
  • The small number of faculty at UBCO who have language fluency in French may mean University Examiners could come from UBCV.
  • The thesis will be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies with a Title Page, Abstract, Preface, and Table of Contents translated into English.

UBC owns the rights to inventions, software and other products of research developed by students as part of their graduate work. UBC policy requires that, if a student “proposes to patent or license an invention or discovery and University facilities or funds administered by the University were used in making the invention or discovery”, the “disclosure must be made to the University and the rights assigned to the University in return for a share of any profits arising from the invention or discovery.” Disclosure forms and more information about the University Patent and Licensing Plan can be obtained from the Industry Liaison Office.

Public disclosure in any form of patentable material before a formal patent application has been filed in at least one country, might compromise potential patent protection in other countries. Deposition of a thesis in the UBC Library constitutes such disclosure.

If it appears that the subject matter of the research presented in your thesis is likely to lead to patentable or licensable material, you should discuss this with the University Industry Liaison Office as early as possible, and well before the intended date of submitting the thesis. In the case of doctoral dissertations, this must be done before the dissertation can be submitted to the External Examiner.