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Thesis (Research) Proposal

MPhil, PhD and ThD

A formal Thesis Proposal should be submitted to the Research Committee within one semester of admission for a full-time candidate and within two semesters of admission for a part-time candidate.


A formal Thesis Proposal will be submitted to the Research Committee no later than one semester after completion of the course units for a full-time candidate and no later than two semesters after completion of the course units for a part-time candidate.

In all cases, the formal Thesis Proposal may not be substantially changed after acceptance without application to the committee.

Presenting the Thesis for examination

Approximately three months before the expected date of submission the candidate should notify the Research Director using the Intention to Submit form, unless this information has already been provided in the most recent semester report. If using the Intention to Submit form the candidate should ensure that the supervisor has provided comment.


TWO copies for MPhil thesis must be submitted for examination.

DMin, PhD and ThD

THREE copies for either a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis must be submitted for examination.

Temporary binding and medium bond paper should be used for all copies. One copy in electronic form should be submitted to the Research Director, which will be placed in the SCD Institutional Repository. The supervisor is required to sign a Certification of Thesis to be submitted with the thesis.

Guidelines for the preparation of the Thesis

All copies of the thesis should be in good quality typescript on one side of the paper only. In the main body of the thesis double-spacing of typescript is preferred, but one-and-a-half-spacing is acceptable. Single-spacing may be used only for appendices and footnotes or endnotes. The paper should be good quality, medium weight white stock, sufficiently opaque for normal reading.

Gender-inclusive language should be used except in quotations, paraphrases, or re-creations of the language used in a different culture. God may be referred to in the gender language appropriate to normal practice within a particular theological tradition.

The size of the paper should be A4 (297mm x 210mm) except for illustrative material such as drawings, maps and printouts, on which no restriction is placed.

The margins on each sheet should be not less than 40mm on the left-hand side, 20mm on the right-hand side, 30mm at the top, and 20mm at the bottom.

The recommended structural sequence of a thesis is as follows:

– Title Page
– Declaration of Originality
– Acknowledgements (if any)
– Preface (if any)
– Table of Contents
– List of illustrations and tables (if any)
– Abstract
– Introduction (if separate from Chapter 1)
– Chapters in sequence
– Conclusion
– Appendix or appendices (if any)
– Bibliography

The title page should contain the thesis title, author’s name, degree and year of submission.

The Declaration of Originality should take the following form:

This thesis is based upon original work by the author and a study of the relevant published works as indicated and acknowledged in the text. No part of the thesis has been plagiarised.


(Author’s signature)


The table of contents should be reasonably detailed in a thesis, since an index is not usually included.

Beginning with the first page of the first chapter (which may be headed either ‘Introduction’ or ‘Chapter 1’) pages should be numbered consecutively using Arabic numerals. Preceding pages, except the title page, should normally be given lower case Roman numerals, beginning with the page immediately after the title page.

Each copy of the thesis should have an abstract of 500-700 words bound in. The abstract should indicate the problem investigated, the procedure followed, the general results obtained and the major conclusions reached. It should not contain any illustrative material or tables. Note that it should not be replicated in the introductory paragraphs.

Appendices contain any supplementary material that the author considers necessary to the interpretation of the text itself. Appendices elaborate information or argument expressed within the body of the thesis; they do not introduce substantial new information or new argument. Materials that are generally more appropriately included in an appendix would include long tables, data that supports arguments contained in the thesis, detailed reports, detailed technical arguments and computer printouts.

Materials such as illustrations, charts or tables must not be submitted on the back of typed sheets. Except with the approval of the supervisor, these should be bound facing the text to which they refer, or if necessary, as right-hand pages, immediately after the first reference to them. The caption should be placed at the bottom of the page.

Materials such as diagrams, maps, and tables that exceed A4 size should be either:

(i)   folded so as to read as a right-hand page when opened; or
(ii)  clearly referred to in the text, numbered and folded for insertion in a pocket in the back inside cover of the thesis binding.

Footnotes at the bottom of each page are preferred but endnotes are permitted. It is normal to begin footnotes or endnotes at 1 for each chapter. Harvard-style notes included in the main body of the thesis are not generally appropriate for advancing theological argument but may be permitted if clearly appropriate to a particular thesis.

Bibliography and Referencing

No single method of referencing is prescribed, but candidates should use one or other of the generally recognized systems of referencing and do so consistently.

Recommended Style Manuals:

  • That of the Journal of Theological Studies.
  • Patrick H. Alexander and others, The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999, and Student Supplement rev. 2009.
  • Lawrence D. McIntosh, compiler, A Style Manual for the Presentation of Papers and Theses in Religion and Theology, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies in Association with ANZTLA and ANZATS, 1994.

Criteria for Assessment

The thesis will be assessed, amongst other things, according to the following criteria:

  • The clarity with which the research question/problem is stated and the scope of the study defined.
  • The appropriateness of the theoretical or conceptual framework to the investigation.
  • The appropriateness of the methodology to the research question/ problem.
  • The precision and consistency with which key terminology is used.
  • The depth of critical assessment of the relevant literature.
  • The capacity to demonstrate a link between the literature review and the research question/problem.
  • The degree of skill in constructing arguments and sustaining a position throughout the thesis.
  • The level of competency in considering possible objections to the position advanced in the thesis.
  • The degree of proficiency in using rigorous argument.
  • The careful and accurate presentation of the scholarly apparatus.
  • The originality (for doctorates) and the level of contribution made to the understanding of the subject.
  • A clear statement of the conclusions reached.
  • Justification of the conclusions reached in terms of the arguments presented.
  • An ability to relate the conclusions of the study to the wider field.
  • The suitability of a substantial amount of the material for publication.

Presentation and binding of Thesis following examination

When the thesis has been examined and accepted, two copies bound in the manner described below should be sent to the Research Director, along with one copy in electronic form.

Each copy of the final version of the thesis should be bound in boards, covered with buckram or similar, and embossed on the spine as follows:

  1. At the bottom and across, the words:
    ‘Sydney College of Divinity’
  2. 90mm from the bottom and across, the degree and year of submission, for example:
  3. Evenly spaced between the statement in (b) and the top of the spine, the initials and surname of the author. No other lettering or decoration should appear on the spine.
  4. Where the spine of the thesis is too thin to support lettering across, the wording should be printed along the spine reading from top to bottom.
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