Thesis Contents

The contents of a thesis must normally include the following in the order specified. Disciplinary norms and customs may also be taken into account when determining the contents and order of a thesis:

The title page should include:

  • Surname and full given name(s) and degrees and/or professional qualifications already held by the candidate;
  • Full title of the thesis;
  • Degree for which the thesis is submitted;
  • College(s) or equivalent in which the candidate submitted the work;
  • Name of the University; and
  • Date of submission of the thesis – month and year.

The Acknowledgements are typically no longer than one page and are usually left to the candidate’s discretion as to whom to include, although it is wise to have the text checked by another person. Acknowledgements will often include thanks for the formal and informal contribution of others in the conduct of the research and production of the thesis, such as advisors, research assistants, peers and mentors. (Details on the nature of such support must be included in the Statement of the Contribution of Others as explained below.) Acknowledgement of personal support provided by family and friends is often also included. Support from a funding body as well as any other support the candidate has received, e.g. a professional association or charity, may also be mentioned.

Contemporary research, including the work of HDR candidates, is increasingly collaborative or team-based. Thus contributions to the research project by others are inevitable in almost every case. Research may be jointly published, may be carried out in collaborative teams, and may be done and/or written with the technical, theoretical, statistical, editorial, or physical assistance of others.

In all cases, it is imperative that the candidate acknowledges the work of others appropriately. A statement precisely outlining the contributions of others to the intellectual, physical, and written work must be set out at the beginning of the thesis. When the thesis contains work that is also part of jointly-published papers, the contribution of the candidate and of others must be clearly stated at the beginning of the chapter and the publication details clearly cited as described below.

The statement of the contribution of others at the beginning of the thesis should include (as appropriate):

  • Tuition Fee Support including acknowledgement of fee sponsorships, waivers, and fee offset scholarship from the Australian Government.
  • Stipend support
  • Supervision
  • Other collaborations
  • Statistical support
  • Editorial assistance
  • Research assistance
  • Any other assistance
  • Project costs
  • Use of infrastructure external to JCU
  • Use of infrastructure external to organisational unit within JCU

An example Statement of Contributions of Others is available below. Candidates are strongly advised to document the contribution of others in qualitative, rather than quantitative, terms as the latter may be misinterpreted.


Nature of Assistance


(specify only those contributions that are applicable to your thesis; the list below is not exhaustive)

Names, Titles (if relevant) and Affiliations of Co-Contributors

Intellectual support

Proposal writing

Data Analysis

Statistical support

Cartography and GIS

Editorial  assistance


Financial support

Fee offset/waiver

Research costs


Write-up Grant


Data collection

Research assistance

Interview design and transcription

Boat drivers

The thesis should be prefaced by an abstract of 500 to 1,000 words, which:

  • States the principal objectives and scope of the study;
  • Describes the methodology employed;
  • Summarises the results; and
  • States the principal conclusions.

The Table of Contents and Lists of Tables, Figures and Plates should reflect the page numbers of section titles, tables, figures and plates, respectively.

One of the following two statements regarding the use of Generative AI in the thesis and the research contained within, must be set out at the beginning of the thesis:

During the preparation of this thesis, I acknowledge the use of [insert AI system(s) and link] to [specify use of generative artificial intelligence]. The prompts used include [list of prompts]. The output from these prompts was used to [explain use].


Generative AI technology was not used in the preparation of any part of this thesis.

The references should conform to a recognised referencing system appropriate to the discipline.

JCU  Library LibGuides - Referencing

Supporting material that is not central to the thesis should be presented as appendices. These might include a summary of primary data, code for computer programs developed as part of the research, etc.

Page numbering for is typically in the form of Roman numerals (i.e. i, ii, iii, iv, etc.), with Arabic numerals (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) commencing at the start of the Body of the Thesis. It is usual not to include page numbering on the title page of the thesis. The thesis document should be formatted using the odd and even pages layout option, such that page numbers sit at the outer margin on all pages when the thesis is printed double-sided and bound.

Completed theses from the same discipline or that used the same overall structure may be helpful in providing examples of the order and formatting of a thesis.


The first chapter of the thesis should be a concise description of the purpose of the thesis, the scholarly context of the research and an explanation of the structure of the thesis i.e. the rationale for and scope of the research.


The body of the thesis will normally be presented as a series of chapters that represent natural divisions or logical progressions of the research. In many circumstances it may be appropriate, in fact highly desirable, to prepare these chapters in a format that will facilitate publication as a series of journal articles or as a book. If the data chapters of the thesis are presented as a series of papers (published or unpublished), the thesis is likely to be more readable if the papers are presented in a coherent format rather than reprints bound together. The intellectual thread that connects the chapters should be signposted in the introduction and summarised by way of synthesis in the general discussion.

Methods Section(s)

In some disciplines, the thesis should include a methods section, which fully supports the discussion of the individual chapters. The detailed format of this section will vary, according to whether it is intended to be published, or has been published, as will its organisation, e.g. as a single consolidated chapter or as separate sections associated with individual chapters.

General Discussion/Conclusions

The thesis should conclude with a general discussion which:

  • Provides an integrated statement on the outcomes of the research described in the thesis, how these match the objectives of the research outlined in the introduction and discussion and how these advance or change thinking in the discipline; and
  • Where appropriate, signals directions for future research.