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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


The doctoral thesis should contain material of sufficient originality to merit publication. The original material should be adequate to form a substantial basis of a monograph or at least two journal articles. The thesis should demonstrate the candidate's command of the relevant literature.

The thesis should be a coherent piece of work, rather than several disparate pieces of research juxtaposed together. It may include published work, provided it is part of a connected argument and it is in the same format as the rest of the thesis. The thesis may also include appendices which are relevant to the material contained in the thesis but do not form part of the connected argument (e.g. primary source materials that are not readily accessible, questionnaire responses, statistical tables, descriptions of objects or analytical bibliographies).

It is important that you indicate clearly the sources from which you have obtained your information and the extent to which you have made use of the work of others. You are required to include a declaration that it is entirely your own work and that it is not substantially the same as any work you have submitted for another qualification. You should also include a declaration of the length of your thesis, which should be no more than 80,000 words, including footnotes but excluding the bibliography. There are no set expectations for the minimum length. If you need an extension to the word limit, or wish to submit an appendix that does not count towards the word limit, you will need to apply to the Degree Committee for permission, using the form available on CamSIS.

You should write the thesis in English. Quotations from other languages should usually be given in translation with the original text, where appropriate, given in a footnote or appendix.

The thesis should be in typescript on one side only of A4 paper in portrait format. The text should be adequately spaced, with a font size no smaller than 11 point for the main text and 10 point for footnotes. You must include a title page giving your full name, your College, the full title of the thesis and the degree for which it is submitted. A one-page abstract should also be included.

Please note that the form in which your thesis is presented, and the care with which it has been prepared and illustrated, are in themselves evidence of your capabilities and will receive consideration as such. You are strongly advised to check carefully for typing errors, spelling mistakes and poor use of English. Correcting such errors may be a condition of approval for the degree.

In planning your thesis you should take account of the criteria for recommending award of the PhD set out in the Guide to Examiners:

  1. The thesis is a significant contribution to the field of study through the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, connection of previously unrelated facts or the development of new theory or revision of older views.
  2. The work is of a quality in whole or in part of a standard to merit publication (whether or not subsequently published).
  3. The thesis provides evidence of the acquisition of knowledge and a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.
  4. It is of a quality and quantity to reflect three years of full-time postgraduate study or five years of part-time study.

Collaborative research

Inclusion in the thesis of work carried out in collaboration is unusual and requires the approval of the Degree Committee and Student Registry. If you have been given leave to work in collaboration with others you should indicate clearly which parts of your thesis relate to this work and should state the names of those with whom you have collaborated and the extent to which they have assisted you.

Human participants

If you are planning to collect data from human participants, or use data collected from human participants, you will need to plan well in advance to ensure that you have obtained ethical approval before starting work on your project and have given consideration to how you are going to handle the information you collect.

Working with human participants: ethical approval and data protection