On Tuesday 5 December, the Doctoral College hosted a workshop offering students an opportunity to find out more about the recently introduced option to write and submit an alternative format thesis. The course was presented by Caroline McMurray, Quality Enhancement Officer at the Doctoral College and Kara Jones, Head of Library Research Services and covered a lot of ground about how this new option could affect students studying towards their doctorates.

The new format

Instead of writing in a traditional chapter-style format, students will now have the option to include one or more academic publications, as part of their written thesis. These publications may be either draft, submitted or published papers.

Who is it open to?

The new format is open to all new and existing students studying towards a PhD, EdD, DBA, MPhil or DHealth doctorate. It’s worth noting that if you are an existing student and are considering writing your thesis in the new style, late decisions will not be granted an extended period of time to do so. So it’s worth getting up to speed with the changes and deciding if, and how, you would like to move forward. Students are not required to be the first/last or sole author of the paper. So long as you have contributed a substantial amount of your own original work to the paper, and can evidence its connection to your thesis, you are permitted to include it.

How will this benefit students?

The benefits to students of submitting their thesis in the new format include:

  • gaining valuable experience in writing papers for publications

  • reducing the need to rewrite any previously published material into the traditional thesis format

  • increasing the likelihood that material from the thesis will be published

  • providing drive and motivation from early publication successes

  • enhancing their research profile which in turn helps to strengthen academic career prospects

  • encouraging a focus on publications whilst also working on the thesis

  • providing an early referee critique on the thesis


It’s important to remember that any publications included within the thesis, follow the main argument and are not a series of disconnected papers. Students are required to provide a commentary text, linking the paper to the previous and following chapters with context and background data.

If you missed the workshop, you can access the full course material, including a podcast, via this Moodle course.