Appendices: Guidelines on Thesis Preparation

(Version July 2018)

​​A.   Introduction

  1. The guidelines described in this document have been established so that theses are presented in a form suitable for library cataloging and shelving. The document takes its place in the library as a product of original thinking and research, and it is, therefore, designed to appear in a form comparable to published works.
  2. This document covers the general rules of format and appearance. Students should consult their Thesis Supervision Committee (TSC) for specific content requirements.
  3. It is the student’s responsibility to read and follow the requirements presented here and to submit documents of an appropriate quality for publishing. The final copies will not be accepted with corrections, insufficient margins, or if they are of insufficient quality for publishing online, etc.
  4. Because of refinement in requirements, students should not use existing library or departmental copies of theses as examples of proper format. 


B.   Originality

  1. An MPhil thesis shall
    1.1Consist of the student’s own account of his/her investigations;
    1.2Be either a record of original work or of an ordered and critical exposition of existing knowledge and shall provide evidence that the field has been surveyed thoroughly;
    1.3Be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument;
    1.4Give a critical assessment of the relevant literature, describe the method of research and its findings and include a discussion on those findings; and
    1.5Include a full bibliography and references.
  2. A PhD thesis shall
    2.1Consist of the student’s own account of his/her investigations and must indicate how they appear to him to advance the study of the subject;
    2.2Form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence or originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power;
    2.3Be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument;
    2.4Give a critical assessment of the relevant literature, describe the method of research and its findings, and include a discussion on those findings, and indicate in what respects they appear to the candidate to advance the study of the subject;
    2.5Include a full bibliography and references; and
    2.6Be of a standard to merit publication in whole or in part or in a revised form (for example, as a monograph or as a number of articles in learned journals).


C.   Components

  1. A thesis should contain the following parts in the order shown:

    1.1Title page, containing:
    • the thesis title;
    • the full name of the candidate;
    • the degree for which the thesis is submitted;
    • the name of the University, i.e. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; and
    • the month and year of submission, e.g. August 2017.
    1.2Authorization page;
    1.3Signature page;
    1.5Table of contents, list of figures and tables;
    1.7The thesis body;
    1.8A thorough bibliography or reference list; and
    1.9Appendices and other addenda, if any.

    Sample thesis pages are provided here (MPhil / PhD).

  2. Abstracts
    Every copy of the thesis must have an English abstract. Abstracts must provide a concise summary of the thesis in 300 words or less.

  3. Acknowledgments
    The student is required to declare, in the acknowledgments section, the extent to which assistance has been given by his/her faculty and staff, fellow students, external bodies or others in the collection of materials and data, the design and construction of apparatus, the performance of experiments, the analysis of data, and the preparation of the thesis (including editorial help). In addition, it is appropriate to recognize the supervision and advice given by the thesis supervisor(s) and members of TSC.

  4. Final Version
    The final version of the thesis must be free from typographical, grammatical and other errors when submitted to the Academic Registry. While this is the responsibility of the student, the thesis supervisor and the department head/program director should not sign off on theses that are not, to the best of their knowledge, error free.


D.   Language, Style and Format

  1. Language
    Theses should be written in English. Students in the School of Humanities and Social Science who are pursuing research work in the areas of Chinese Studies, and who can demonstrate a need to use Chinese to write their theses should seek prior approval from the School via their thesis supervisor and the divisional head. If approval is granted, students are also required to produce a translation of the title page, authorization page, signature page, table of contents and the abstract of thesis in English.

  2. Scripts and Page Format
    2.1A thesis should be presented in a permanent and legible form either in original typescript, or a comparably permanent process.
    2.2Paper and print quality are vitally important for legibility. Normally, international size A4 (297mm x 210mm) 80 to 90 gsm woodfree white paper of good quality should be used for the thesis. Exceptionally, paper other than international A4 size may be used when the nature of the thesis requires it. Any thesis not typed or printed on the correct size of paper will not be accepted.
    2.3The final thesis copies should be printed on both sides of the paper.
    2.4A conventional font, size 12-point, 10 to 12 characters per inch must be used. One-and-a-half line spacing should be used throughout the thesis, except for abstracts, indented quotations or footnotes where single line spacing may be used.
    2.5All margins should be consistently 25mm (or at a maximum of 30mm) in width. The same margins should be used throughout a thesis. Exceptionally, margins of a different size may be used when the nature of the thesis requires it.
  3. Pagination
    3.1Pagination of the body of the text and appendices is to be in Arabic numerals centered at the bottom of the page. The pagination begins with the first page of the first chapter and continues throughout the rest of the text. Pages with tables, maps, photographs, etc. are to be numbered as well. Open a new page only after each chapter or section but not a sub-section.
    3.2Pagination of materials preceding the body of the text is to be in small Roman numerals centered at the bottom of the page.
  4. Footnotes, References and Appendices
    These should conform to a scholarly style appropriate to the discipline. Footnotes may be placed at the bottom of the page, at the end of each chapter or after the end of the thesis body. Consistency of formatting for footnotes and references is required throughout the thesis.

  5. Figures and Illustrations
    Figures, tables, graphs, etc., should be positioned according to the scientific publication conventions of the discipline. Charts, graphs, maps, and tables that are larger than a standard page should be provided as appendices.

  6. Photographs/Images
    6.1High contrast photos reproduce well. Photographs with a glossy finish and those with dark backgrounds should be avoided.
    6.2Images should be dense enough to provide 300 ppi for printing and 72 dpi for viewing.
  7. Additional Materials
    7.1Other illustrative materials which cannot be conveniently bound in the text (such as maps and slides) should be packed in such a way that they can be bound with the thesis. If the amount of such materials is substantial, it should be gathered into a supplementary volume and packed in a rigid container similar in format to the bound thesis. All loose materials should be marked with the candidate’s name and degree for which the work is submitted so that it can be readily linked with the thesis, and a list of the loose items should be provided.
    7.2Raw files, dataset, media files, and high resolution photographs/images of any format can also be included.


E.   Creating PDF files for E-thesis Submission

  1. Dissertations and theses are submitted for publishing in PDF format. Providing a properly generated PDF file ensures the manuscript can be read using different platforms (Windows, Mac, etc.), and that it displays as intended. Proper file generation also facilitates the indexing of the paper.
  2. Before sending the PDF file for printing and submission to Proquest please ensure the following using the HKUST E-thesis PDF Preflight application:
    2.1All fonts should be embeddable and embedded.
    2.2Image resolution should be dense enough to provide 300 ppi for printing and 72 dpi for viewing.
    2.3Multiple PDF files should be combined into one single file.
    2.4PDF file should NOT be encrypted, as text cannot be extracted from encrypted PDFs for full text indexing or storage. Encrypted PDF files will NOT be accepted by Proquest.

Further information is provided here.


F.   Thesis Submission

  1. For examination purpose, sufficient hard or electronic thesis copies are to be submitted to the department at least four weeks before the thesis examination.
  2. On successful completion of the thesis examination, students must submit two identical clean unbound original hard copies of the thesis to their department, which will arrange for the appropriate signatures of approval to be obtained. The department will then forward the signed copies to the Academic Registry for follow-up action. When bound, one copy will be retained by the department and one by the Library as an archival copy in the open collection for the student author and other interested visitors to access on campus.
  3. Before submission of the final version of the printed thesis copies to the department, students should submit an electronic copy of their final thesis to the Electronic Theses database of the University Library. Students are also required to provide a printout of the HKUST Electronic Thesis Submission Acknowledging email when they submit the final thesis hard copies to the department for forwarding to the Academic Registry as proof.
  4. In addition, students are required to complete two online survey forms and submit them together with the final thesis hard copies to the department.


G.   Copyright

According to the University’s Intellectual Property Policy students shall own the copyright in respect of their written coursework, theses, papers or publications themselves as a whole as literary works. More details are available here.

H.   Thesis Binding

Students may wish to keep personal copies of their thesis. They may arrange for such copies on their own and at their own expense. Service from MPTC of the University is one option. Students may explore other binderies for the binding service.
The following information is provided for the reference of students interested to keep personal copies. Students have free choice to decide whether or not to keep personal copies and which bindery service fits their personal needs. However, please be mindful that the binding of the thesis must correspond with the University regulations.

Media Technology & Publishing Center (MPTC), HKUSTTel: 2358 6824
Fine Art Binding Company
(A local bindery -- for the information of students.) 
Address: G/F, 106D Third Street, Sai Ying Poon, Hong Kong
Tel: 2540 4101 
Fax: 2546 6267