About writing your thesis

Writing a thesis is an undertaking that is quite unlike most of the other writing tasks you have done and the academic articles you have read at university. Aside from its size, it will probably differ structurally from a standard paper, and certainly the relationship between the reader and writer of a thesis will not resemble the peer-to-peer relationship of a published text. Nevertheless, there are also similarities, not the least being the fact that the writer will be evaluated by the reader. This makes it imperative that the quality of your language allows the reader to appreciate the quality of your argument.


Make sure you have agreed with your supervisor on a structure. Disciplines differ, for example, as to where the literature review should appear, or whether the discussion should include the conclusion.

Key language features

Actively notice key language features of respected journal articles in your field: This is difficult as often you read under time pressure with your focus on the content. However, taking the time to notice language features will pay dividends as you write your own work. Suggested features to look out for are stylistics (e.g. personal pronoun use, the frequency of contractions); grammar (e.g. verb tense use); coherence (how the writer maintains the logic of her writing); vocabulary use, and organization. Adopting the language of your field will signal that you belong to your particular disciplinary community.


Be sure to pay attention to feedback, particularly to language items that you consistently misuse. If you can, make a checklist of your most common errors that you can use when you are editing future writing. Peer correction also works well as a fresh pair of eyes will pick up errors that you might have missed.

Skills development

Invest in your research and language development. These skills often differ between secondary school and university and between undergraduate and postgraduate study, and making the transition between levels can be difficult. Luckily, help is at hand via the Library, the Language Centre, and Peer Point, staffed by people who are experienced in assisting students to make the transition successfully.