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Thesis types

There are currently a number of ways that a doctoral degree can be accomplished. More disciplines now offer PhD degrees, while some offer the possibility of professional doctorates, and there is growing legitimacy for alternative pathways to a doctorate through journal publications, a book, a performance or an exhibition. Consequently, the traditional thesis with a traditional structure, while still the most popular form of thesis, is no longer the only means for doctoral attainment.

The demand for creativity and uniqueness within the PhD has resulted in some highly regarded theses that, in certain disciplines, do not follow a traditional thesis structure.

Irrespective of the discipline, type of thesis or alternate pathway you select for your research degree, the same conceptual academic requirements and demand for rigour will apply.

Thesis by publication

Doctoral and MPhil candidates, including staff candidates, are permitted to submit a thesis by publication. The thesis by publication is not a different degree; rather, it is a thesis format that includes papers that have been prepared for publication. The papers can be inserted in their published format. Whether the papers have to have been actually published or only submitted for publication varies across faculties. The material presented for examination needs to equate to that which would otherwise be presented in the traditional thesis format.

The thesis must reflect a sustained and cohesive theme, and framing papers are usually required. There are discipline-specific requirements and you should check these and the conditions of candidature with your faculty.

Some faculties vary their requirements in terms of the number of papers required, status of papers and other criteria. The Examinations section of MRGS handles queries about the thesis by publication - see Examination of theses by publications Opens in a new window.

Creative arts PhDs

At Monash this type of PhD is offered in two areas: visual arts and music composition.

PhD in speciality of visual arts

Candidates develop a studio research project, resulting in a body of work examined by exhibition. The examinable material includes written and visual documentation. The works in the exhibition must not only be new, but should result in a doctoral level contribution which has substantial cultural significance. The documentation is the retained archival record of the research. It outlines the development of the research and its conclusion, and provides a critical context within which the work may be viewed and examined.

PhD in speciality of music composition

In this program the work submitted for examination consists of a composition portfolio, a critical commentary of between 20,000 to 25,000 words, and concert program notes of the candidate's musical work. At least 50% of the music submitted for examination must have been performed in public concerts.

In this type of thesis, the subject of the research is the production of the creative work. As in a conventional thesis, this production needs to be critically analysed and situated in within the practice and theory of the field.

Read the Doctoral Handbook entry on thesis types Opens in a new window.

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