Thesis writing

A thesis is an argument or proposition declaring a discovery or insight, based on research, which is relevant to others. It is intended to contribute to scholarly debate.

How should you approach the management and writing of your thesis?

Theses are presented according to documented guidelines. Refer to Guideline AB-58 AD7: Presentation of the Research Degree Thesis, or Exegesis (Consolidated) for detailed requirements on the presentation of print and/or electronic versions of the examination thesis. Topics covered are length, presentation, content, figures and tables, binding, and lodgement with the University. 

The Research Induction Plan and Statement of Agreement will determine:

  • your supervisors' involvement in elements of the thesis writing
  • agreement on the important matters of plagiarism, intellectual property (IP) and authorship on publications.

You will need to clarify with your supervisors expectations around:

  • drafting of the research project
  • arrangement of chapters
  • reading of the first and subsequent drafts
  • reading of the final draft
  • editing of the thesis.

Why use a thesis template?

Using a template saves time, reduces errors in layout formats and maintains consistency of style throughout a large document such as a thesis. As a result, you can focus more closely on the content of your thesis and leave the template to deal with the formatting.

What template?

Microsoft Word

Many students will use Microsoft Word to write their thesis. Word has a Styles tool you can use to create, manage, change or modify styles. The workshop Word for thesis writing (student ID and password required) provides a Word template that meets UniSA requirements and clear instructions for working with the template. A discussion area offers troubleshooting advice to answer your queries.


If you are a Mathematics and/or Statistics student, LaTeX software may be your best choice for a thesis template. You may be able to find a template that you can adapt to meet UniSA requirements (refer to the academic regulations). Talk to your supervisors about your options.

EDGEx is your one stop shop for continuous skill development resources.

Online resources are available.

If your examiners don't have to worry about errors (eg grammar and inconsistencies) they will enjoy reading your thesis much more. However, because you are very close to your work, external editorial assistance will be helpful. EDGEx is your one stop shop for continuous skill development resources and these online resources can assist. You should also check with your local area about available resources.

Guidelines for editing research theses (Institute of Professional Editors - IPEd) outline the extent and nature of editorial services that professional editors can provide when editing research degree students' theses and dissertations. Academic supervisors and research degree students also need to be clear about the editor's role as well as their own roles and responsibilities.

Find an editor

  • IPEd links to editorial organisations in each state of Australia providing contact details for professional editors and cites editing standards that identify and define the knowledge and skills expected of experienced editors in Australia. Check with your local area to see if your budget allocation allows for this service.
  • SA Society of Editors - Find an editor (do a search)
  • Editor Software provides products to help you with writing and editing, including StyleWriter - the Plain English Editor. The software is not free but there is a 30-day free trial

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