Format for Theses in the Faculty of Law

1. ‘Thesis’ here includes not only the writing submitted for the DPhil, MLitt, MPhil, or MSt, but also the essay which is submitted by a Probationer Research Student for a Qualifying Test, Confirmation of Status, and dissertations offered in the examination for the BCL or MJur. It does not include essays set by way of examination for the BCL or MJur.

2. Every thesis must include an abstract not exceeding 300 words. The abstract must contain no footnotes. The abstract must appear immediately after the title page. Its format is governed by regulations 7 to 10 below.

3. Every thesis must contain a table of contents. The table of contents must state the titles of the chapters and their principal sub-divisions. The table of contents must be indexed to the pages where the chapters and first-level sub-headings begin. If required, a table of abbreviations should follow the table of contents.

4. Every thesis which mentions cases and statutes must contain separate tables of cases and statutes. Unless there are very few cases and/or statutes, divide the tables into separate sections for separate jurisdictions. Arrange EC cases in chronological and numerical order. Any other tables should follow, e.g. tables of other primary legal sources (official papers treaties, UN documents, etc.), and of tables and/or diagrams provided in the text. The tables must be indexed, so that each entry shows on what pages the case or statute in question is mentioned.

5. A bibliography listing secondary sources (articles, books, monographs etc.) in alphabetical order must appear at the end of the thesis. It should include all such sources cited in the thesis. It need not be indexed.

6. The order of the thesis should be: title page, abstract, table of contents, table of abbreviations, table of cases, table of statutes, tables of other primary legal sources, table of diagrams and tables, main body of thesis, any appendices, and bibliography. An index is not required. If there is one, it must come after the bibliography.

7. All footnotes and appendices are included in the word count. The abstract, the table of contents, the table of cases, the table of statutes, the bibliography, any headers or footers, and any index are not included in the word count.

8. The thesis must be written in English.

9. The thesis must use A4 paper.

10. The thesis must be word-processed using size 12 font on one side of the paper only, with a margin of 32 to 38 mm on the left hand side. Variations of font size may be used for headings, sub-headings, and footnotes.

11. The lines in the main text must be double spaced (8mm).

12. The first line of every paragraph must be indented unless the paragraph immediately follows a heading or sub-heading, or an indented footnote.

13. Quotations must use single inverted commas, saving double inverted commas for use for quotes within quotes. Quotations longer than three lines must be presented as a double-indented, single-spaced paragraph with no further indentation of the first line. Such double-indented quotations must not use quotation marks.

14. Endnotes must not be used. Footnotes must be internally single spaced with double spacing between the notes.

15. The thesis must comply with OSCOLA (the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities), or another useful standard for citation. You should consult your supervisor if you wish to depart from OSCOLA.

16. The thesis must be bound in a soft or hard cover. NB for BCL and MJur dissertations, any form of binding – e.g. spiral binding – is sufficient.

17. Where the thesis is offered as part of an examination which is assessed anonymously, it must not at any point divulge the identity of the candidate or the candidate’s college.

Submission of the Thesis

The deadline for submitting your two bound copies  is the last day of the vacation which follows the term in which the thesis is due to be submitted. However you should aim to submit the forms to the Faculty at least 3-6 weeks before. The only proper recipient is the Research Degree Office, at the Examination Schools (not the Manor Road or St. Cross Buildings). The thesis must state the number of words to the nearest hundred, and the number so stated must be within the prescribed word limit. There must be an abstract of the thesis, of about 300 words. At the end of the process, successful DPhil theses must be submitted to the Bodleian Library and a digital copy should be deposited in the ORA. Students for the MPhil and MSt are not required to submit Bodleian copies, but if they wish to do so, they should contact the Research Degree Office for further information about how to do so.

ProgrammeMinimumMaximum
word limits for theses
DPhil75,000100,000
MLitt40,00050,000
MPhil and MSt25,00030,000