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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 25, 2014

Canadian Excellence

Doctoral Dissertation Format



The dissertation is the culmination of a candidate's program. All PhD candidates are required to complete an original dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in their field. If dissertation research involves humans, approval must be obtained from the WLU Research Ethics Board; if it involves animals, approval must be obtained from the WLU Animal Care Committee.
In order that the dissertation may be subject to the scholarly criticism of all members of the university community, it is placed on display in the Graduate Studies Office two weeks prior to the oral defence. Also, the oral defence is open to any member of the university community.


Traditional Dissertation Format

This work is understood to be a structurally unified body of work, with each part contributing to the development of a coherent whole, with an overarching research question/concern that is developed through a succession of chapters or sections (though this does not necessarily mean parts might not be excerpted for publication). The guiding principle here is that the manuscript most closely resembles a book.

The traditional dissertation can include the following components:

  • Title Page
  • Copyright page
  • Declaration of Co-Authorship/Previous Publication
  • Abstract
  • Dedication (if applicable)
  • Acknowledgements (if applicable)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables (if applicable)
  • List of Figures (if applicable)
  • List of Appendices (if applicable)
  • List of Abbreviations, Symbols
  • Nomenclature (if applicable)
  • Body of thesis (divided into various chapters)
  • Bibliography/References (note that the Bibliography/References section can either precede or follow the Appendices)
  • Appendices (include copyright releases here where applicable)