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Writing your thesis


We understand that writing your thesis can be a daunting process! This page will guide you through the process and help to get you started. Don't forget you can also always speak to your Librarian to discuss search strategies and resources you might use.  

For students undertaking a thesis in the Schools of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing; Water, Energy and Environment, and Defence and Security, read our guide and top tips for getting started on your Master's thesis.  There is separate advice for School of Management students

You will also find advice and support to help you develop a variety of skills on our Study Skills Hub, including guidance on academic writing and being critical.  


Formatting and templates for your thesis 

There are set guidelines for the layout and submission of your thesis, depending on whether you are a taught or research student. University advice for conducting, writing, printing and submitting your thesis is published on the Thesis submission site on the intranet. The library has also published Guidelines for the layout and submission of your thesis, this document provides guidance on the format and layout of Master's and PhD theses.  

Note: you can browse our collection of theses and dissertations, not only for finding information, but also for looking at examples of the structure, methodology and referencing styles you should use. 

To help you focus on the writing rather than the formatting of your thesis, Cranfield IT provide thesis templates for both Microsoft Word and LaTeX. Using a template will help you to achieve a consistently formatted document and will allow you to automatically generate a table of contents and lists of figures and tables, with appropriately numbered pages throughout. Training and support for the thesis template are provided by the IT Training Team.  


Writing your literature review 

Most PhD and Master's theses contain some form of literature review to provide the background for the research. Your literature review is intended to show your understanding of a subject area and identifies different research methodologies and tools. Read Writing a Literature review for practical tips that cover searching our resources, creating the basic structure and refining the final document. 

Refer to our guide on Conducting a literature review for further guidance, including carrying out a systematic literature review.  


Submitting your thesis 

When do I need to hand in my thesis? Where? What do I need to submit? How do I submit a copy to Turnitin? What happens next? When will I get my results? For answers to these questions and many, many more, visit the Thesis submission pages


And finally

Try to stay calm! We know it’s easy advice to give, but try to make time to relax, sleep and exercise. Eat well and be kind to yourself. If you find you are getting too stressed, please get in touch with Student Support and view the Wellbeing pages on the Intranet. You can either drop in during office hours, call them or email (no appointment necessary) and our Student Advisors will be happy to help you talk through your worries.